Ashlyn Spring 2022 Ready-to-Wear Collection

It’s a common misconception that designers are responsible for every stitch on a garment: the fabric, the pattern, the silhouette, the finishes—every decision is up to them. In reality, it’s almost always a team effort, with pattern makers, textile developers, sewers, and technical designers all contributing to the final product (and that’s an incomplete list). Insiders know these behind-the-scenes people are often the difference between an item of clothing you’ll cherish for decades and one you’ll send back for a refund. The faultless tailoring of a blazer, the perfect neckline of a bodysuit, the just-right drape of a skirt—those are feats of technical finesse, not radical visions.

Still, in the age of Instagram, much of fashion has come to prize bold statements and flash over quality and fit. “Where are the clothes?” a discerning PR friend asked me, lamenting the endless scroll of stuff at a luxury e-tailer. She doesn’t want soulless “essentials,” but she also doesn’t want $800 neon leggings, a $350 dress with a poorly-sewn hem, or a logo’d jacket. Where are the beautifully-made, emotional, yet wearable clothes—the pieces that define your wardrobe, but still genuinely spark joy?

Here’s my new answer: They’re in Ashlynn Park’s spring 2022 collection. A former pattern maker and designer for Yohji Yamamoto, Raf Simons at Calvin Klein, and Khaite, Park contains the rare combination of fastidious clothes-making skills and a singular, otherworldly aesthetic. She spent two years developing the samples for her debut collection back in February, unsatisfied until she achieved the perfect fits. Just as impressively, she made every piece herself, from the sketch to the pattern to the runway sample. That level of intimacy no doubt contributed to the collection’s many equilibriums: of simplicity and romance, West and East (Park is from Japan), precision and ease.

Spring 2022 expands on Park’s early signatures of cut-outs, curving seams, and bustles. This season’s bustles—or “dumplings,” as she called them—are filled with fabric scraps from the cutting room floor. They’re also removable and can be layered under any dress or skirt, Ashlyn or otherwise. That spirit of DIY freedom is happily at odds with Park’s perfectionist rigor: She wants people to experiment with her clothes and feel completely unrestrained. She means that literally and figuratively: Many of her “hybrid pieces” can be taken apart and remixed, while the puffed-up sleeves in look 14 are covertly detached from the blouse to allow greater ease of movement and avoid unsightly bunching. The same sleeves appear on a banker-striped shirt, the sort of classic-but-not item you’d reach for weekly.

That office button-downs and red carpet gowns can mingle in the same collection is another testament to Park’s skill and confidence. She pays equal attention to both, but sees her gowns—this time with petal cut-outs at the front, not the back—as the ideal medium to highlight her process. Image 19 in this Sarah Blais-lensed lookbook isn’t really a “look” at all, but a half-body muslin like the ones she developed as a pattern maker. “Sometimes, I’d only get one or two weeks to develop a pattern,” she explained. “I wanted to show that the perfect piece takes care and time.”

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