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There's much to love about Ilana Kohn's womenswear line: eco-friendly fabrics, easy-as-can-be silhouettes, and an ultra-local approach (her textiles, as well as her clothing, are designed and made in NYC). But if we had to pinpoint a single quality that first drew us to her designs, there's no question that it was those vivid prints–expressive patterns that stand out, regardless of context, as if in a perpetual spotlight.

Kohn's graphic prowess is not incidental. The fashion designer is a former illustrator who once counted The New Yorker, The New York Times and Kiehl's among her clients. She launched her clothing line at the end of 2011, but this season is the first time she has released a complete collection. Loosely structured and effortless, the spring-summer styles are ideal canvases for Kohn's painterly motifs.

"It's certainly a similar feeling to see my illustrations in print and to see lovely ladies wearing my clothes–a very nice one!" says Kohn, who recently began selling her overstock fabric to address a parallel demand for her textiles.

We asked the star "fabricator" to talk us through some of her favorite work, past and present. Here, she shares the stories and inspirations behind her always compelling visuals.

ilana kohn illustrations

I can't even remember who this piece was for, but I recall having gotten the assignment in the midst of a drunken dinner party. I figured I might as well take the opportunity to gather some humiliating reference pics of all my drunk friends.... It worked out nicely! :)

This was a piece that I did for a show. I consider it one of the least cringe-worthy personal pieces I've done. It's probably one of the few pieces I haven't tossed out over the years.

This was a pretty small, insignificant piece I did for Time Out New York. I've always really liked it, though. Had a fun time with that composition!


Ilana Kohn Prints

I was looking at a lot of mid-century modern patterns when I designed it, and it's definitely one of my favorite prints to date.

Another one of my favorite prints to date! I bemoan the fact that I can't really reuse prints from season to season (not that I don't have a million new prints I'm equally excited about!) because I'd love to see this print in another colorway or on some new silhouettes.

I wanted a print that employed large color fields. Something that would kind of pull the rest of the collection together. That's where Jigsaw came in. 

Lookbook photography by Dustin Fenstermacher; all images courtesy of Ilana Kohn.

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