Not Always What it Seams

Designer Nina Valenti grapples with the future

Nina Valenti was bound to pull a Helmut Lang comparison sometime. Though the forward-thinking designer behind Nature vs. Future is not quite the second coming of the revered Austrian genius, she does share his fruitful fascination with futuristic fabric, deconstruction/reconstructon, and crisp asymmetry. Beyond that, Valenti's three-year-old line focuses on the intriguing interplay between those two normally antagonistic forces. Valenti might rip apart a classic women's button-down and refashion it with an extended panel that snaps across the front, but she'll recut it in stretch hemp fabric. "I put a lot of extra seaming in it, so it's very tailored. But I break it up in a new way, so it's not just a basic line in a T-shirt." Her polyethylene jackets strike a razor-sharp silhouette but are surprisingly downy-soft on the inside, weathering nicely with age. "They look like paper crinkled up," explains Valenti, "but soften after you wash them ." (In the washing machine, no less.) Valenti's clever, moderately priced designs—our favorite, a band-collared shirt with a zigzag line of buttons—have garnered the 29-year-old designer an ever-growing clientele built solely on word of mouth. Well, until now, of course. Count us in as her latest fan.
 
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