You can always expect florals in a Zimmermann collection, typically rendered in the prettiest, dreamiest, frothiest of ways. Pastel gowns strewn with blooms, chiffon ruffles cut into 3-D petals—these are Nicky Zimmermann’s calling card. But spring 2022 found her craving something a bit less fragile. As we emerge from a pandemic and face other nightmares—climate change chief among them—most women aren’t in the mood to look or feel delicate. Zimmermann and her team found a new way to do flowers: photographing bouquets in a studio, then digitizing and altering them to be bolder, sharper, and more abstract. A cut-out gown was printed with drippy, watercolor roses, then styled with combat boots; another was splashed with clusters of flowers in hyper-saturated shades of yellow and blue, topped off by a black choker. Other looks omitted florals entirely with new, punk-ish details, like a jagged blush tulle dress studded with gold and pearl “piercings.”
Zimmermann was thinking mostly about ballerinas. Sure, their leotards and warm-up clothes were translated directly in a few looks, like a stretchy layered bodysuit and a lace dress that hugged the hips before exploding into a tutu-esque bubble skirt, but it was the balancing act of being a dancer that informed more of the designer’s vision: negotiating athletic power and grace, strength and fluidity. That might sum up how many women want to feel post-pandemic: newly empathetic, yet unwilling to compromise or take anything for granted. The sharpened-up aesthetic could attract a new group of young customers, too—people who couldn’t relate to a romantic frock in the past, but see themselves in the stronger prints, sporty perforations, and gold-studded tulle.