St. John Knits Pre-Fall 2024

Rhinestone cowboys and rebel bikers, Elvis in his “Viva Las Vegas” phase and Katharine Hepburn in her 1940s silver screen glory.…They were all on the pre-fall collection mood board for newish St. John vice president of design Enrico Chiarparin, who has been reorienting the Southern California luxury brand toward the American west in recent collections.

Cowboy snap-front shirts, scarf ties on sleeveless dresses, trapunto stitch, crystal stud, sequin embroidery, eyelash fringe and biker zipper details were all subtly woven through Chiarparin’s modern updates on St. John classics, designed for boardrooms and Hollywood press tours alike. Silhouettes were cut closer to the body with lots of leggy lengths throughout.

“Overall, we are trying to make it seasonless, so we worked on the weight, finishing and structure to make that possible,” said Chiarparin, responding to what he’s been hearing retailers want for the fluctuating temperatures.

To that end, a cream slipdress in lightweight stretch boucle and lace was a revelation (and one that brings a sexy new cool to the brand’s all-important mother-of-the-bride category), while a black pique knit biker jacket with suspended crystal details over leggings or a miniskirt put a younger spin on its core knit dressing.

The designer nodded to the utility trend with a beautiful fatigue-green crepe pants suit, with a long, lean patch pocket blazer and flared pants, styled as a total look with a matching western shirt (and begging for a killer pair of cowboy boots), and dipped into rock ‘n’ roll with a fun gold studded leather pencil skirt paired with a slouchy cream tweed sweatshirt.

In the Hollywood glam mood, a platinum-colored liquid satin bias-cut shirtdress with yoke detail, and a black silk georgette jet bead embroidered gown were Hepburn chic, while more relaxed evening pajamas in overprinted silver sequin jersey or hammered gold liquid satin, and matching daytime sets in geo patterns or California poppy florals brought a new ease to the collection.

And blue is the new black, at least at St. John, where powder blue tweed in girlish Barbie-like silhouettes abounded, along with slate blue stretch satin suits with studding and a standout royal blue crepe boho dress with studded yoke detail.

“It’s about how to move forward without being shocking,” Chiarparin explained of his task at the Lanvin Group-owned, circa 1962 brand, which will open two new stores in the coming months. It’s working.

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