Jonathan Simkhai Takes Us Behind the Scenes of His Spring Collection

We visited his new studio just days before his Milk Studios presentation.
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Alyssa Vingan Klein
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We visited his new studio just days before his Milk Studios presentation.
Photo: Nina Frazier Hansen/Fashionista

Photo: Nina Frazier Hansen/Fashionista

When we stopped by Jonathan Simkhai's design studio the week before his spring '15 presentation, I halfway expected to see a frenzy of sewers, stylists, fit models and interns running samples to and fro and rushing to meet a quickly approaching deadline. But what we walked into was very much the opposite. The designer and his team were working quietly, and everyone in the space seemed oddly relaxed. Zen, even.

"Every season I get into this 'craze' but it takes away from the beauty of industry," Simkhai told us of his pre-Fashion Week mindset. "As I'm getting more comfortable with understanding my business and what people are coming to me for, it's about focusing on those pieces that you know people are going to want and having your show. Being able to stay in business and being able to excite people — the JS girl. It can't be crazy, or else it's unsustainable. I try to stay calm and balanced, otherwise it becomes a nightmare."

The recent CFDA Incubator graduate started his namesake business five years ago, and he's making an effort to grow up with his previously mentioned "JS girl" with every new collection. For spring, Simkhai is showing plenty of his signature performance-inspired knits, shirting and separates, putting an emphasis on custom fabrics and a new focus on incorporating more "special" pieces for events. 

"I'm getting more sophisticated, and I want to dress people throughout the years," he explained. "Something that I strive to do every season is try to get more women, regardless of age, to come into the brand and embrace it. I want to dress them and make them feel cool."

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In a clean color palette of white, peachy pink and blue, Simkhai's use of texture really stands out, making even his most basic separated seem faster-paced. Simkhai's most ladylike pieces — sculptural party dresses both with and without cutouts as well as skirts of all lengths — feel sporty and have an edge to them. 

The starting point for the collection was broken glass, and not only because of the jagged patterns it creates and the way light plays off if it. It's a reflection on the lively JS girl, who will break a glass every now and then — something the designer loves about her. "Everyone's always a little afraid to pick up broken glass, and my girl is intrigued by danger," Simkhai said. "She's sharp, she's edgy."

Click through for a preview of Simkhai's spring collection, which debuts at Milk Studios on Saturday evening.