Catching Up With Fashion Designer Jonathan Cohen
Written by: Ashley Lee
San Diego native Jonathan Cohen was on pins and needles until he was accepted to New York’s Parsons School of Design, where he worked alongside Oscar de la Renta, Doo-Ri Chung, Ashleigh Verrier and Patricia Field. Yet Cohen’s debut collection caught the attention of Women’s Wear Daily and Harper’s Bazaar for his bold use of color and texture, inspired by his Hispanic background and childhood in La Jolla. His 2011 collection follows his design philosophy while celebrating the brand’s newly developed collaboration with L’Oreal.
944: When did you know you wanted to be a designer?
JONATHAN COHEN: When I saw Madonna wearing the cone bra, I was hooked. Growing up, I was always interested in fashion and art. I used to take my mom’s Vogue magazines and draw portraits of the models. In middle school and high school, I got into Japanese animation. I was sketching out characters and noticed I focused a lot on their costumes and what the characters were wearing. I always knew this is what I wanted to do, and never questioned it.
944: Who is the woman that you are designing for?
JC: I have always seen my woman as ageless and international. She is definitely a woman who is bold and elegant, but has a sense of humor. She isn’t so easy to read — there are many sides to her.
944: How does this translate to your upcoming collection?
JC: One specific woman has never influenced me; various women have always inspired me. Even when I cast for a show, I look for all different types of girls. Our fall/winter 2011 collection caters to every woman more than ever. I have identified in my style the needs of separates, and how [they allow women] to carry their own particular style, identifying how they live their lives.
944: Who are your dream celebrity clientele that you would love to design for?
JC: Off the top of my head, I have always loved Tilda Swinton, Melanie Laurent, Gwyneth Paltrow — her role in Great Expectations influenced me a lot — and Diane Kruger. I did a dress last season with dyed fuchsia horsehair that I would love to see Nicki Minaj in.
944: Any big names in fashion you’d like to see in your creations?
JC: There are also some fashion celebrities, such as Anna Della Russo and Shala Monroque, whom I would love to dress. They both bring so much personality to clothes and have such a carefree attitude toward fashion, which I love.
944: What is your favorite part of the design process?
JC: I love draping and pattern-making; it has always been my favorite part about design. I also love the beginning of researching and developing a new collection — it can actually be grueling and you can go in so many directions, and then all of a sudden, it clicks. I do over 300 sketches for each collection, and the first set is always almost painful. Then it reaches a point where it becomes easy and natural, and that’s when you know you are on to something.
944: What is your least favorite part of the fashion industry?
JC: I really can’t complain. I knew what I got myself into when I started, and I am grateful to do what I love for a living. jonathancohencollection.com