Designer Maria Cornejo Schools Us in Sustainable Style
Plus, shares her stylish eco-essentials.
Something remarkable happens when you put on a Zero + Maria Cornejo piece: You stand up taller and sharper, but you also feel amazingly unfettered. Stylish and unstoppable? Check. The proof is in the women who wear her: Michelle Obama, Mindy Kaling, Solange Knowles, and Cindy Sherman are all fans of Cornejo's flowing yet architectural clothes. The Chilean-born designer has been draping and cutting her influential silhouettes in New York City since 1998, responsibly designing much of her line with eco-friendly fabrics whenever possible. She's drawn to items with personal significance: a handbag her late mother-in-law gave her, jewelry made by a friend, textiles collected while traveling. "People need things for the heart right now," says Cornejo, who pours hers into everything she does. "Yes, we're creating a product, but it is meant for someone. It needs to have a life of its own."
Here, the designer takes us through the everyday essentials making her heart happy.
"I try to be creative with less, and push the needle to be more sustainable."
The Brooklyn Bridge
"To unwind, I walk across it to and from the studio. It clears my head."
Priti Polish, in "Tawny Day Lily," $15, pritinyc.com.
"I wear this eco-friendly formula on my fingernails. The color looks very natural, so I don't have to worry if it chips a bit."
Zero + Maria Cornejo "Lena" Top and "Takeo" Pants, $550 each, nordstrom.com.
"Since I work with color and pattern every day, I keep my own outfit neutral. It helps me focus."
Red Flower Aromatherapeutic Body Oil, $34 for 4 oz., redflower.com.
"After scrubbing with a brush in the shower, I moisturize with Italian blood-orange oil in the morning and French lavender at night."
Jill Platner "Antiope" Earrings, in 19k gold, $2,640 (also available in silver, $255), jillplatner.com.
"Jill has become a friend, and I feel a little love every time I wear her work."
Chloé Mini "Marcie" Bag, in Cashmere Grey, $890, saks.com.
"This was a gift from my late mother-in-law. It's a discreet, tiny purse that fits a lot inside."
Wanderer, by Cat Power, $12, amazon.com.
"I've known her for years and feel very attached to her. This album is my new favorite."
Knoll "Tara" Fabric, in Scarlet, $102 a yd., knoll.com.
"I collaborated with Knoll on this textile line; it was inspired by abstract photos I took on my phone. I used it to make throw pillows for my house."
O&M "Frizzy Logic" Shine Serum, $30 for 50 ml, originalmineral.com.
"I have really thick hair; this smooths it perfectly."
Escentric Molecules "Beautiful Mind, Vol. 1," $165 for 100 ml, luckyscent.com.
"Beauty and joy in a bottle."
Yola Mezcal 1971, $60 for 750 ml, yolamezcal.com.
"It's great mixed in a cocktail or on its own."
Gardenia plants, from $13 for a 2.5-inch pot, logees.com.
"They're so special, with an incredible fragrance. I never cut the blooms."
Bobbi Brown Luxe Matte Lip Color, in Burnt Cherry, $37, bobbibrowncosmetics.com.
"I don't wear a lot of makeup, but this lipstick gives me a little color."
Hans Wegner "CH-27" Lounge Chair, 1stdibs.com.
"My home is my oasis. It's lived in and comfortable-filled with midcentury-modern pieces, like this chair, and lots of plants."