If you ask María Cornejo about her new collection, she is likely to use words such as “or-
ganic,” “inspired by nature,” and “simple” to describe it, but one could also say that her
work is sophisticated, geometric, and utterly urban. is apparent contradiction embodies
the essence of her work: a ﬁ eld of forces fueled by the tension between opposites—dark
and bright, masculine and feminine, organic and urban. A play of light and shade between
which this designer moves with great mastery.
Born in Chile, María moved to England with her family as a young girl. She attended the
Ravensbourne School of Art in London, graduating in 1984. Her precocious career took
oﬀ at once. Before graduating, she was already designing for Fiorucci and the British ﬁ rm
Label. en she was active in London, Paris, Milan and Tokyo, cofounding the innovative
label Richmond Cornejo. Later, she created María Cornejo and worked as the creative
advisor for large stores such as Joseph, Tehen and Jigsaw.
In 1996, María and her family moved to New York, where, driven by the deep desire to
recover 100 percent control of her work, she transformed an empty space in Nolita. Her
artistic evolution has been a process, a work running parallel to her evolution as a person
that seems to be pervaded with the emotion she feels from the encounter with nature in the
work of her photographer husband Mark Borthwick.
is artistic sagacity led her to be a ﬁ nalist in 2005 and the winner in 2006 of the Cooper-
Hewitt National Design Award, much deserved recognition for an artist who shuns the
obvious and reveals what is subtle as a sign of identity.
Photography courtesy of Zero + María Cornejo
Photography by Monica Feudi
Based on simple forms, María
Cornejo’s Fall/Winter 2007–2008
collection has a notable organic
component as well as sensual cuts
reminiscent of elements from the
animal and plant worlds such as
chrysalises, leaves and mushrooms.
Photography by Monica Feudi
- What inspires you?
I usually get inspiration from very abstract things and when I am not really looking for it—when it is least expected
—like when I touch fabrics and an image instantly pops into my head.
- What is your dream as a designer?
To keep learning, to continue to be inspired and stimulated and never be bored.
- What has been the most important achievement of your career?
I was extremely honored when I was awarded the Cooper-Hewitt Design Award in 2006. To be recognized for innova-
tion by my peers in other ﬁ elds such as design, architecture, product development and landscape was incredible.
- How important are trends?
I’m not interested in trends. I believe you have to decide what suits you, regardless of fashion and trends (B-Guided and
- Fashion has always reﬂ ected a certain era. What does fashion reﬂ ect in the twenty-ﬁ rst century?
Sportswear and casual wear have marked the fashion of the twenty-ﬁ rst century.
- What book would you recommend to every fashion designer?
I used to love ﬂ ipping through this book of indigenous costumes back when I was a design student.
33 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10012
Photographies and sketches courtesy of Zero María Cornejo