Lafayette 148 Pre-Fall 2023 Collection

At Lafayette 148, creative director Emily Smith continues to mine the history of the brand’s namesake address building. They had discovered that before it was a garment factory, it had been a printing press, and their whole collection was subsequently inspired by paper. Well it turns out that before that, in the 1920s, the building housed a post office for all of Lower Manhattan. “So I thought ‘let’s dive into that,’ and my team came back with all these great little ideas,” Smith revealed during an appointment at the label’s showroom. For pre-fall, she and her team dove into the (almost-forgotten) art of sending handwritten notes, and the wonderful world of stationery.

Smith approaches her inspiration in a multi-sensory way. So while a print inspired by vintage postcards might seem a little obvious, her execution was anything but. On a finely pleated knit skirt the print was applied in bands of different widths, creating a deconstructed collaged effect. It was paired with a matching cashmere sweater where the print had been blown up, and the sweater itself had been “sort of overwashed” so it had a worn-in, fuzzy texture. Its not-quite-matchy-matchy-ness had a wonderfully odd and youthful spirit about it. Elsewhere, the same print was turned into a handsome monochrome brown-on-tan print on cotton, and into a tonal champagne jacquard print on silk, and blue-on-blue denim, all evoking different emotions.

Trench coats and cotton shirting came with “tear-away” button details inspired by the way stamps “snap apart” when you’re going through a stamp sheet. The squiggly lines of canceled stamps appeared as subtle shirred stripes on a sleeveless orange dress and on another in dark navy with long sleeves. They’re “our summer sort of getaway dresses when you’re writing your postcards,” Smith joked. Details from a vintage postal uniform showed up on the collars of shirting and little jackets; one in denim seemed like a smart modernized version of a chore jacket, with two pockets at the hips, one secured by a button on the left side of the chest and on the other side, just the outline of where the pocket would be.

Leather and suede are always strong at Lafayette 148. A shirt and trouser combo done in light-as-air beige suede, and a pair of chunky fisherman sandals lined in teddy shearling were standouts. A boxy cropped mahogany jacket made from paper-thin leather with two flap pockets had nice proportions, but it was the buttons—slightly oversized, silver, and covered in the same leather—that made it (ahem) worth writing home about.

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