If I were to describe how our Linen Gauze makes me feel in just a phrase, it would be that it encourages me to move. It has a bounce, a slink to it - its lightness gives me a bit of confidence, the way that it clings subtlety to the body brings out a bit of sensuality and the springiness of the material makes motion so much fun. It bends and bounces with you, and the texture of the material has such interest and life.
This Warm Weather Collection launch is exclusively focused on Linen Gauze. This is the same gauze we carried in the first generation of our WWC, just in new colors! Smoke and Charcoal have been phased out while Black, Ivory, and Pepper are making their debut! Amber, the burnt orange color you've seen in some behind-the-scenes imagery, will be launching in late summer as soon as the fabric arrives.
I'm really excited for these new colors - I have been craving this material in warmer neutrals than the grays we carried last year, and I really love the crisp white Ivory for spring and summer. Pepper is a dynamic neutral that really does look like cracked black pepper. Also, black gauze is just the most elegant - if you want to feel like you belong on a remote European coastline with your feet in the sand, crystal blue water in front of you, and a giant sun hat shading your face but really you're just going to work on a Tuesday, then this is the fabric for you (I have never actually been to said coastline - but I can imagine).
The rest of our Warm Weather Collection, which will include Midweight Linen and Silk Crepe pieces, will launch in June so be on the lookout for announcements.
I also want to talk about some of the new styles you'll see in this launch. First, the Petra Crop (one of our oldest styles, it started out as the Lee Crop) has blossomed into a really exciting series. We heard your requests for a longer top option, and I've finally landed on one that I like the proportions of (I am very particular about silhouette and don't like cutting the body in half at the middle, but the sleeveless nature and a-line shape of this works for me). So in addition to our classic Petra Crop, we've got a Petra Tank that hits right around the hip and also a calf length dress, the Petra Midi! The Midi is such a classic, elegant piece - it's like the Elise Dress we've done a few different versions of. Very lengthening, swooshy, simple without being plain.
Now, here's where it gets really exciting. Y'all know we've had a few different tank styles over the years, and one that is dearly missed is our Marlena series. It was a reversible style that came in three lengths (tank, dress, and midi) with a scoop neckline on one side and v-neck on the other, and you could wear either one in the front or back. It was the epitome of versatility, and still has die-hard fans. But, the hangup is that it worked best on thinner, small-chested women. The ability to have a neckline reverse successfully without gaping at the armholes hinged on being a certain size and of a certain body type. You need bust darts to keep things fitting well as chests increase in size, and bust darts inherently make a garment non-reversible. I'm the first to admit that not all styles will work on everyone, and there are certainly garments we sell that may work better for some bodies than others, but there is often leeway and personal preference at play. With the Marlena, it was kind of a hard stop - busts over a certain size just couldn't make the Marlena work, and I knew we were compromising fit by continuing to sell it as we expanded our size range.
Since the discontinuation of the Marlena series, I've been wrestling and struggling with how to bring back the essence of that style in a way that could work for more women. At a recent design feedback meeting with some teammates, one of them suggested the very simple concept of not forcing two necklines into one garment, and instead focus on prioritizing fit and offer both options in separate garments. And that's where we landed! The Petra is moving forward as our official scoop-neck tank style (available in a short cropped length that you know and love, the new tank length, and midi dress length). We're also introducing Polly, Petra's sister style, which has a beautiful v-neckline. Both have bust darts that allow the fit to transcend sizes much more successfully. The Polly is also available in all three lengths, so now you have a myriad of choices to get just the right style for you. I still lament the loss of the neat, functional feature that a reversible neckline provided, but am really satisfied to have a series that I know will fit well, and serve more of you, while still giving you neckline options.
The other style that I want to talk about is the re-imagining of our Artist Smock! This piece was an ES staple, an oversized, fluid, draped top that looked stunning on pretty much everyone. It was cut from two simple panels of fabric - one front and one back, meaning the body and sleeves were all one pattern piece. It was a one-size style for a while; but as we expanded our size range and offered more sizes, the pattern piece for our larger sizes became too wide to fit on our fabric. With our first addition of the OS Plus size, we had our silk supplier develop us a custom width that was 10" wider, and able to accommodate the larger pattern width. However, when we added the OSP2 and OSP3 sizes, we were out of options. The mills that make our fabric can't produce bolts wider than 55", and our cutting tables are 60" wide so we couldn't accommodate wider fabric even if it was available. We pulled the style from the collection, with the intention to revisit it later with new seam lines. We knew that to offer it in all of our sizes, we'd need to change the pattern so that it was no longer one simple, large piece of fabric.
After ruminating on it and testing a few different versions of the design, it's finally time for a comeback. We took the original silhouette of the Artist Smock and applied raglan sleeve seam lines, and also added a center front and back seam. The grain-line and drape of the garment with these new seam lines has a slightly different flavor; but the avant garde billow and movement of the original Artist is still very much present. The sleeves are a little longer, which corrects a feature that I didn't love about the original Artist, and are very cuff-able. Slightly more a-line in shape, this is the sort of style that you can truly throw on with anything. It looks fantastic half-tucked, and if you pair the Ivory smock with vintage khakis and interesting eye-glasses, you'll never need another outfit.
We are also bringing back the dress version - it’s a little longer and more a-line than the original, but still very layerable over pants, or easy-breezy worn alone. Another major bonus of the style change is that the pattern pieces can now nest much more efficiently together on the fabric, which significantly reduces wasted material. So, it's a win-win all around, folks!
Overall, I am so thrilled with this grouping of gauze styles. In addition to the new kids on the block, of course we’ve got your classics - Harpers, Georgias, and Bels are all back in our new gauze colors. They're ready to take you through thick, humid days, and balmy moonlit evenings. Lightweight, full of motion, enigmatic in texture, these are the pieces that truly are made for warm weather. Enjoy!