In the weeks leading up to New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2023, TZR will be showcasing a few new names on the show line-up. From emerging young designers to cult-favorite brands, these are the labels to have on your radar. Watch this space for more.
Since launching LoveShackFancy in 2013, the brand’s Founder and Creative Director, Rebecca Hessel Cohen, has opened 14 stores across the country and counting — an expansion that’s driven such a thrill amongst customers that they travel to attend boutique openings, head-to-toe in the label’s signature ruffled, pink, and floral attire. The brand has also found a longstanding home in several department stores and e-retailers (think Net-A-Porter, Shopbop, and Matchesfashion). And, its business didn’t just survive in the pandemic; it thrived with a growth in net sales of roughly 125% from 2020 to 2021, likely thanks to its focus on mega-popular cottagecore styles that kept people feeling cute and comfortable in the confines of their homes. So, perhaps it’s only natural that Cohen’s next step is to take New York Fashion Week by storm. And this season, she’s sure to: Her brand’s big debut is set to happen during the Spring/Summer 2023 line-ups on September 12.
While half of her stores may be scattered across the most affluent cities of the South and the West, Cohen is a New Yorker — and, possibly now more than ever, she wants you to know it. From the way she explains the imminent Spring/Summer 2023 collection, it’s almost as if LoveShackFancy is arriving in the city all over again after its years spent making a name across America. Sequentially, it makes sense: Any good hero’s journey culminates with a return home. In this case, it’s to the Upper East Side, where Cohen grew up.
“[The LoveShackFancy girl] is not the garden peasant girl vibes that she was before. We’re now saying she’s re-emerged into the city life,” she says. What that may look like is a fairly quick evolution from cottagecore- and Edwardian-style frocks (the only possible word for them) to tighter, bodycon dresses. “I guess a lot of the styles aren’t as overly ruffled. Let’s say, they’re more pared back in some of the silhouettes,” Cohen tells TZR. She also hints at the presence of Y2K style elements, bias-cut dresses, a branded twist on power suiting, and “lots of fun, different embellishments [and] fabrications, like rainbow sleeves, pearls and denim, taffeta and tulle.” A sartorial experiment it seems (from both her description and the sketches below), though still well within the confines of her glamorized, ultra-feminine aesthetic.
While it remains to be seen what kind of event the presentation will be, Cohen has proven that she knows how to throw a party, not only with her lavish store openings but with her private events, too. In late August, she hosted a dinner party for friends and family at her home in Southampton. It was fairly intimate, according to Cohen, and involved tables bedecked with LoveShackFancy linens for less than 50 guests. She later posted a montage to her account and the brand’s official page — a window into the LoveShackFancy mode de vie, at its core. In the aftermath, she boasted to her team about the compliments she received from those who saw the video, with some comparing the decor to something they’d wish to have at their wedding. Cohen keenly saw the personal gathering as an opportunity to create social media content for her brand (similar to her 40th birthday party, which took place at The Plaza Hotel in February and later dubbed in the press as LoveShackFancy’s unofficial New York Fashion Week event).
To some, this merging work and life can seem like something of a sacrifice. At a minimum, it’s a commitment — one that has clearly paid off, given the LoveShackFancy’s mounting relevance. Even on the resale market, search demand for the brand has gone up 77% from 2021 to 2022 at The RealReal, and the number of items purchased more than doubled in 2021 compared to 2020, according to Noelle Sciacca, Senior Fashion Lead, Women’s, Fine Jewelry and Home at TheRealReal. Cohen credits LoveShackFancy’s prosperity to its focus on a niche aesthetic — “sorority girl style” with a fantastical element. Cohen’s clever use of social media, coupled with the resurgence of dopamine dressing and the post-COVID wedding boom, she adds, gave LoveShackFancy plenty of opportunity to keep momentum as a romantic favorite until now. That said, a true visionary has a sense for when an angle has run its course.
“Sexy” might not have been the first word one would use to describe LoveShackFancy until this point, but that could stand to change with this next collection. In further explaining her latest work, Cohen says the concept involved an exploration of the brand’s ethos through a more mature and “flirty” lens — akin to a coming-of-age experience as told through fashion — but adds that the “air of innocence” for which LoveShackFancy is known won’t disappear completely. Since the label appeals to a crowd that’s aged, in Cohen’s words, “four to one hundred,” she and her two design directors were careful to think of myriad types of customers when creating these clothes.
And fans of the brand needn’t worry about too much of a departure from the rococo pieces they love: LoveShackFancy’s signature color, pink, will appear in 22 “dreamy” shades, Cohen says, and she still takes inspiration from her extensive collection of vintage textiles and clothing for the line’s fabrics. Versatility is also paramount, she adds, as the LoveShackFancy girl is “global and always on the go!”
In terms of logistics, the showing will take place in the garden of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. “[It’s] going to be presentation meets block party, garden party, and fun vibes,” she says. With such a focus on world-building, it is natural for one to expect to be fully immersed in this event, too. “Everything that we do lends itself to a little bit of a theatrical performance.”
One person Cohen hopes will attend? Betsey Johnson, a designer with a shared penchant for sassy silhouettes with frothy embellishments. (Their career trajectories are remarkably similar, too: They both cut their teeth in fashion and styling while working at magazines, Johnson at Mademoiselle and Cohen at Cosmopolitan.) “When I was younger, I’d spend so many of my afternoons at [the Betsey Johnson boutique] trying on dress after dress,” Cohen says. “Last year, she went to our Charleston store and FaceTimed me. It truly was such a full-circle moment. It would absolutely make my year to have her join us for the show.”
A New York Fashion Week debut is one of the many boxes LoveShackFancy is slated to check soon, and in general, the founder keeps an open mind when it comes to brand expansion. Later this month, LoveShackFancy will open a showroom in New York City, and in 2023, it will add a beauty line to its umbrella, in addition to a fragrance inspired by Cohen’s older daughter. More store openings, including one in London that will be the first international location, are also underway. “I really think of our girl in the world and what she wants to be doing and where and what feels exciting and inspiring,” Cohen says. “We still haven't done LoveShackFancy hotels, restaurants, [or] cafés. So, you never know.”