Bernadette Schaeffler is a name that few outside the world of fashion know. But those in the know revere her as a masterful designer, someone who understands how to bring out the best in any fabric, any cut, and bring it back into circulation. Her style is both classic, with elegant silhouettes and subtle details, but also progressive and innovative. Her designs are informed by decades of experience as well as modern sensibilities. She focuses on natural fibers and tailoring details, with an emphasis on what will stand the test of time. In other words: everything you could ever want in a designer.
What Is It About Bernadette Schaeffler?
Schaeffler grew up in Switzerland, the daughter of a textile engineer, and discovered her passion for design at an early age. She studied textile engineering in Zurich and took a job with a mill in New York City, working there for ten years. Her reputation in the industry grew, and she was eventually asked to design the fabrics for Bill Blass, the American brand that had been around since the 1930s. She stayed with the company for three decades, during which time she also became known for her work with Ralph Lauren. Her designs for the brands she worked with were often wildly creative, and she developed a reputation as a master of color and fabrics. Her work with Blass ended in 2001, and she has continued her independent career ever since.
The Bernadette Schaeffler Collection for Spring/Summer 2018
The collection is all about metamorphosis, and the highlight is Schaeffler’s signature suits. The suits are always the stars of Schaeffler collections, and she manipulates materials and silhouettes to create new versions every season. This time, she’s focused on blouson tops and A-line skirts, letting the fabric and cut do all the work. The collection is full of fabrics that bring out the best in each other. There are linen and cotton blends, nubby wool, and rough silk blends that emphasize texture and tactility. The silhouettes are classic but with a Schaeffler twist. The blouson tops are feminine, the A-line skirts are dramatic, and the suits are bold and dominant.
How Does She Do It?
Schaeffler works with a variety of fabrics, and she experiments a lot with different blends. She pairs linen, one of the most casual fabrics, with silks, the most formal textile, and creates something that is somewhere in the middle. She uses the fabrics to their strengths and in their most flattering way.
DETAILED: Fall/Winter 2017-2018 Collars and Shirts
The collars of Schaeffler’s shirts are always impressive. They are stiff enough to go with a suit but soft enough to layer under a sweater or coat. She knows how to bring out the best in a variety of fabrics, from smooth shirting to nubby sweaters. The silhouettes of her shirts are always elegant and feminine, but she also plays with bolder, more architectural shapes. There is a lot of volume in this collection, but it is controlled and balanced. The detailing is exquisite, with tiny folds and pleats, and the fabrics are as textured as they are beautiful.
DETAILED: Fall/Winter 2017-2018 Dress and Skirt Shapes
The most interesting shapes in this collection are the dresses. Schaeffler creates both dramatic maxi dresses and more modest knee-length styles. The maxi dresses are the stars of the show, with long, high-low hemlines and high, structural collars. The knee-length dresses are more modest, but they have interesting details, like folded-over hemlines, and are cut in flattering, feminine shapes. The skirts are the most classic pieces in the collection, with A-lines and pencil hemlines. The skirts are elegant and streamlined, with straight or gently pleated hems, and they’re paired with blousy tops for a feminine, but more modern, silhouette.
DETAILED: Fall/Winter 2017-2018 Outerwear
The outerwear in this collection is what you expect from Schaeffler: bold, beautiful, and full of texture. She takes some of her silkiest fabrics and puts them on the outside of her coats, making them both luxurious and tough. The shapes are dramatic and architectural, with large pockets and high collars, and the fabrics are both rough and smooth. There are also some more standard pieces, like button-up coats and double-breasted styles, that are cut with Schaeffler’s special attention to detail. There are solid pieces, but Schaeffler also knows how to play with pattern, creating more dynamic looks.
The attention to detail and the focus on fabrics are what make Schaeffler’s designs so special. She knows how to use fabrics to their best potential and build them into beautiful, luxurious garments. She is a master of color and pattern, and she knows how to let fabrics speak for themselves. This collection is no exception. It is loaded with interesting textures and beautiful colors, and it is full of the confidence that comes with decades of experience.