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Maiyet transforms ethical luxury into New York cool during NYFW




Luxury label Maiyet, which partners with artisans from far-flung corners of the world, made its fashion week debut with a sensuous collection in desert hues designed for the sophisticated New York woman.

Founded in 2010 by South African lawyer and post-apartheid reconciliation figure Paul van Zyl, and Kristy Caylor, a Californian passionate about humanitarian causes, Maiyet pioneers a new approach to fashion and luxury. The brand has forged partnerships with artisans from countries as diverse as India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Mongolia and Peru, and has been showing its collections on the runways of Paris since 2011.

To widen its scope and deepen its identity, the label in April appointed its first dedicated creative director, Declan Kearney, an Irishman who previously served as design director at Alexander Wang and Jason Wu. On Monday, in Manhattan's Meatpacking District, he unveiled a spring/summer 2016 collection of restrained elegance, layered knits, silks and suede, with soft falling fabrics and entirely feminine.

"I would acknowledge the fact that we're a New York brand," Kearney, who has lived in the city since the late 1990s, told AFP backstage at the show. Maiyet recently opened its first store in New York's fabled Soho neighborhood.

"I'm very inspired by New York women," said Kearney. "Living in New York, you see girls of all nationalities. It is such a diverse place to live, and it's really great to celebrate that."

Maiyet does not necessarily have to be for the hippie chick or the eco-warrior -- the DNA of its timeless craftsmanship from multiple traditions easily reaches into the wardrobe of the style-conscious New Yorker. There were ivory silk knits from Bolivia, silk tunic dresses, jacquard knits from Mongolia and sheath dresses cut with asymmetrical slits.

"We reach out to the world for inspiration but we bring it back to New York when we curate it and make sense of it," Kearney explained. "We put it together in a way that speaks to a modern woman." Kearney said he sees the clothes as "very American."

"We have little touches of, maybe a few more Parisian elements in our embroidered shapes, but it feels like a New York girl," he said. The palette was emblematic of the Mongolian desert or the Antelope Canyon in Arizona -- the oranges of a sunset, neutral hues, black, charcoal or metallics -- sophisticated but sparkling.

"We have amazing partners in Bolivia, Mongolia and India, and Kenya. We work with a lot of really great artisans," Kearney said. "I think I see New York with a foreigner's eyes," he said. "I live in Queens, it's a very diverse center of the world -- it's very representative of the world at large." (Prune Perromat, AFP)

Image credit: AFP/Trevor Collens

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