Dauphinette’s SS23 collection Fragile, designer Olivia Cheng finds safety in art, interpreting nontraditional materials typically found in the forest or the kitchen into sculptural, armor-like clothing. A skirt constructed from four hundred real eggshells portrays fragility, and is repeated throughout the collection via handbags carved out of emu eggs.
A mini dress features over two hundred vintage souvenir spoons quilted into clear vinyl, while a maxi version showcases vintage chinoiserie porcelain plates that, when worn, almost—but never quite— touch the floor. A menswear-inspired suit shimmers through over 12,000 vintage mother of pearl buttons, hand-sewn over the course of two months. For the wearer, this suit is like a protective shell. To elevate Dauphinette’s signature botanicals, Cheng dips real leaves and roses in 24-k gold. Two roses are woven into the straps of a dress knitted from fine banana silk yarn.
Photos: Yanran Xiong
In exploring and patchworking these delicate mediums, Cheng demonstrates Dauphinette’s thoughtful evolution from upcycling optimist into a fully-fledged fashion brand archiving natural histories, while also exploring her own fragility as a young designer growing up through the lens of fashion and entrepreneurship. As Dauphinette grows, Cheng continues to hand-make many of the “showpieces” in the collection herself, emphasizing her organically-grown artistic practice over hyper-commercialization.
Designer: Olivia Cheng
Styling: Olivia Cheng & Dauphinette Team
Make up: ILIA
Production: The Morrison Group
Hair: Hide Suzuki
Casting: Olivia Cheng & Dauphinette Team
PR: Lindsey Media
Dauphinette was founded in 2018 by Olivia Cheng, debuting with one-of-a-kind, Made-in-New York outerwear from recycled and byproduct fur and leather, vintage, and artisanal components. Cheng has since grown the brand to include handbags and accessories, plus a tightly conceptualized selection of ready-to-wear. The result is a dreamy collection of complex, optimistic, storied pieces– a feeling Cheng hopes to inspire in our wearers. Today, the brand is best known for its use of preserved botanicals and repurposed textiles, and can be discovered blooming everywhere from its West Village flagship to the Met Museum’s latest Costume Institute exhibition.