Here in New York, there’s a quiet movement of designers who are rethinking and elevating the humble concept of American sportswear. Nellie Partow might be the most under-the-radar name on the list (Khaite and Tommy Ton’s line, Deveaux, also come to mind), but the success of Partow’s label suggests that won’t be the case for long. It’s stocked in the best stores and websites, from Le Bon Marchè to Moda Operandi, and in recent seasons, she’s tapped some of the most iconic models to star in her lookbooks: Amy Wesson, Tasha Tilberg, and for Resort, Karen Elson. All three are notably in the 40-year-old age range and look particularly confident in Partow’s clothes. These are simple, ultra-luxurious items for grown-ups—though Taylor Hill, who was a baby when these women started their careers, also looked great in her Partow suit at last week’s CFDA Awards.
It’s impossible not to zero in on the first three looks of Resort, where Elson’s trademark orangey-red hair is reflected in the sunset stripes of a silk blouse, trousers, and midi dress. Those colors are bolder than anything Partow has done in the past, and will speak to the woman who appreciates simplicity but wants to dress with a bit more exuberance in 2020. (Partow’s signature gold-painted cable-knits would fit the bill, too.) Color aside, it’s worth looking a bit closer at the twisted construction of those striped pieces: What appears to be a built-in, permanent detail is actually two long strips of silk you twist and tuck or leave hanging. On the long-sleeved dress, the concept lent a nice bit of waist definition in lieu of Partow’s typically straight, gently-oversized dresses.
Elsewhere, Partow focused on similar styling tweaks: A toffee-colored trench had a single turquoise strap around the cuff; a crisp white blazer had one contrast-color lapel; and a simple black V-neck dress was cinched with two extra-long belts high on the ribcage. Similarly, a blazer with exaggerated cargo pockets came with two D-ring belts: one in camel, one in bright blue.
For a designer focused on tailoring, that jacket was a departure in its casual, utilitarian feeling—though it goes without saying that Partow approached it with the same care and precision of a tux. Styled with matching slim trousers, it looked like a New Yorker’s ultimate day-to-day uniform. After work, she could change into the actual tuxedo in crisp ivory.