Jonathan Cohen is a womenswear designer based in New York City. His vivacious and colorful collections draw from his immensely rich Mexican culture. His parents were in the arts, and becoming a fashion designer was always a dream for Cohen. He honed his skills with Doo.Ri Chung, Ashleigh Verrier and Oscar de la Renta, before launching his namesake collection in 2011. For the time being, he is confident producing high quality collections rooted in luxurious fabrics and excellent fit, as opposed to transitioning to a more consumer friendly format the way other design houses have recently done. He trusts and works closely with his retail partners, and they seem to agree as his stockist grows each season. Not only do his designs speak for his talent, but he is also one of the kindest and most gracious designers working in the industry.
What do you love about working in fashion?
There are so many reasons, but one of my favorite parts is the process of building and making the collection. It becomes my safe space. I love the factories and artisans we work with. My favorite part is trying new techniques, treatments and construction methods with them. That process of creating is so special. I love working and meeting with other people who are so passionate about what they do. It is what drives me.
Did you know you would always be a designer?
I knew since I was little that I wanted to be a designer. I can’t imagine doing anything else. It was all I thought about growing up, so I am so lucky to be able to do it.
Where does your adoration for color and prints come from?
Both my parents are from Mexico City, which is filled with color and art. Mexico is so rich with culture and there is just so much for your eyes to see. My grandfather collected art in Mexico, so both of my parents had a passion for different types of sculptures and painters. They exposed me to various artists growing up, and it has naturally had an impact on how I view color and prints.
Do you design your own prints?
Yes, I design every print. It’s important that my hand is involved in every piece we create.
You made your NYFW debut almost a year ago, how did adding this element to your brand impact your business?
Our pieces are very detail oriented. Doing a presentation really allowed us to pull people into what is the JONATHAN COHEN world.
What are your thoughts about brands moving to a more consumer-friendly retail format?
I think its great if that is what works for your brand. I think you need to do what is best for you and your company.
Would this be possible for your collection?
At this point, it is not really something we have considered. We have maintained a strong relationship with our specialty stores, keeping the product at an exclusive level. Each piece has such an artisanal quality that it takes time to produce it, so for us its more about not over saturating our product and really working with stores that understand the craft and story behind the brand.
You have dressed some of the most risk-taking celebrities (Lupita, Uzo) – what does it mean to you when you see these women in your clothes?
It is always exciting to see your clothing on woman you admire. What was so exciting about Lupita Nyongo, Uzo, and Brie Larson, was dressing them at the beginning of their careers. It is so exciting to watch their careers rise and in a very small way, be a part of that journey.
Who else would you love the opportunity to dress or collaborate with?
There are so many, it’s hard to just think of one. I love Diane Kruger, Alicia Vikander, and Rihanna. Women who you can just understand clothing and love to experiment with it. I would love to do costumes for a movie one day. That has been a dream of mine. Maybe do some pieces for Misty Copeland’s performances. I find her story so inspiring and that is really who the JONATHAN COHEN woman is. She is a fighter, and someone who has extreme passion.
You’re from the West coast – what do you miss about California?
My family and of course the beach.
What’s coming up for your brand?
Working on the next collection for Spring 17! We picked up a lot of great new accounts this season, so I am very excited about doing our store visits. I love being able to spend time at the stores and meet our customers. It is so important.