Photography/GIFs: Kathryn Chadason
Let me start by saying: I consider myself a ride-or-die punk. So when I hear mainstream fashion outlets like Vogue call a brand punk—well, I can’t help but be skeptical. But here’s the thing: Libertine is the real deal. From designer Jonhson Hartig’s references, to his mismatched prints and killer nails season after season, the L.A.-based brand oozes that hard-to-define and even harder-to-capture thing that is radical. And it doesn’t feel obvious, either. For a lot of people, punk means Doc Martens, ripped jeans and band tees. For Libertine, it means sequins, suits, banana prints and flowy chiffon dresses. Through his off-kilter attitude and meticulous attention to detail, Hartig creates effortless pieces that disrupt the industry by loudly conquering it. And what could be a bigger fuck you than that?
With his latest collection, the designer built upon the overstated energy of last season, and did something entirely different. Though a lot of people might not think “minimal” when they see Libertine, Hartig’s S/S ’18 range was decidedly simple. I mean, sure, it was covered in layers of sequins and contrasting colors—but the classic tailored suits and classic femininity made the collection a much more mature version of Libertine. And while a lot of designers either overdo the drama and end up with completely unrealistic collections, or fall flat and send garments too ready-to-wear down the runway, Hartig balances his outrageousness with a cool wearability that makes Libertine both Vogue-approved and exciting.
View behind-the-scenes photos from the Libertine S/S ’18 presentation, and read our interview with Hartig, below.
Tell me about the collection. What inspired it?
Villefranche-sur-Mer in the south of France, Josephine Baker’s bananas, modern art, punk rock—the same references we always use, pretty much.
How does this collection compare to previous seasons?
We always want to advance personally, and as a brand. There’s never been more Libertine mania than there is now—our business has doubled in the last two years, so it’s a real fantastic time for Libertine.
Describe Libertine in three words.
Dynamic, smart and divine.
Who do you see as the Libertine man and woman this season?
An organza. But they’re always the same—cultured, worldly, artistic, influencers and dynamic intellectuals.
Do you think fashion should be political?
Fashion is political—everything is political, at this point. There’s not a soul on the planet that isn’t political or at least has some feelings about what’s happening in the world.
What do you see as your role as a fashion designer, especially during hyper-political times?
My role? Sometimes to stay quiet, and sometimes to be really fucking loud.