Alchemist Fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear Collection
Roma Cohen’s Fall collection for Alchemist was a paean to the American spirit in a way that only he could imagine; it was brash, uncompromising, and burning with detail and ambulation. And while it’s hard to avoid certain clichés with a star-spangled theme, this designer and retailer knows well enough the balance of getting it right—or at least going overboard in all the right ways. You can tell that he’s having fun with it, as his label, still in its infancy, expands.
Dubbed Graceland, Fall used Elvis-related motifs as an aesthetic base (Cohen worked with The Elvis Presley Charitable Foundation for imagery and rights) and then sent out cruisers nationwide, stopping in Alchemist’s hometown of Miami as well as Santa Fe, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, among others. “We just fell in love with this sort of Americana . . . road-tripping, Route 66, looking westward but keeping some Florida in it,” said Cohen.
Perhaps a good way to break down this collection down is through its geographies. For Miami, Cohen had a washed-denim jacket with ultrasoft Orylag fur across the shoulders, overdyed with the words “Magic City,” Miami’s nickname, covered in snow. (Interpret that as you will, keeping in mind a certain nighttime fuel for which Miami has long been notorious.)
Out of Graceland itself, Alchemist’s Tennessean lean featured studded applications of the name Morning White Dove—said to have been Elvis’s great-great-great-grandmother, who was Cherokee. Images of the King’s house were knit onto sweaters for both sexes, or imposed in glitter. And as Cohen continued around the country, there were examples of commissioned graphics, like the phrase “livin’ in America” by the airbrush legend Phade, and works by Ishi Glinsky, a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation, a Native American tribe in Arizona. (Cohen noted a sensitivity to cultural appropriation, and as such, worked closely with Glinsky on the collaboration.)
The tour ended in Vegas, with costume-glam, residence-worthy showpieces, like sequined, flared-sleeve tops for women and a studded leather jacket with fringe—an Alchemist signature—and a new logo of a red-white-and-blue shape of the continental U.S. merged with a skull. A capsule collection with Guess is also part of the roster, as are fresh hybridized sneakers and boots. This might all sound like a lot to unpack, but Cohen’s explorative instincts—and expert merchandising skills—made the trip worth it.