As of late, designer Jason Rembert is very interested in topiary. In fact, the celebrity stylist-cum-designer claims that artistic spins on shrubs, hedges, and bushes operated as a stronger creative catalyst this go-around than “actual fashion.”
“There’s so many gardens in Atlanta,” Rembert said. He recalled visiting the so-called Black Mecca during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and marveling at “how alive” the city felt even during a global crisis. During one trip, Rembert went to the city’s 30-acre botanical garden. The memory has stuck with him. “It’s so beautiful. I wanted to shoot [the lookbook] in Atlanta but the schedule just didn’t align for it.”
Rembert was calling into a makeshift showroom in New York from a different city: Miami. With a team of PR agents tapping away at a row of computers, a model showed off the lush, saturated looks that fill this nature-inspired collection while the designer talked through his thoughts. The moment was the perfect encapsulation of the sort of deft multitasking Rembert has mastered. In the past week alone he has flown from New York to Los Angeles to Miami—with more cities in the pipeline. “I had a conversation in the American Airlines lounge the other night,” Rembert shared, touching on a meaningful exchange with a stranger. “About how all these small moments, these small accolades, still feel surreal.”
Rembert titled this pre-fall collection “Cut the Bull.” As a spiritual continuation of his last collection—the storybook-leaning “Smell the Fucking Roses”—the new clothes also tap into the dreamier side of the Aliétte woman. There’s a grass-green maxi skirt covered in feathers, lavender-hued dresses and skirts, and a marigold cropped two-piece suit. Rembert says the title “Cut the Bull” stems from a directive to stop procrastinating. But these romantic pieces beg one to stop and ponder, much like a beautiful garden might.
If these clothes feel like gentle updates on what’s already come before at Aliétte, that’s alright with Rembert. The practical-minded designer is not interested in reinventing the wheel with each collection. “I think updating is important,” he said. “You make this one pattern, and then you go and make this new collection and go and make 20 new patterns? No.” He shakes his head, incredulous. “There has to be some sort of throughline.” Case in point: Look 1 of the day, that flowing feathered skirt, has been seen before. “We’ve done this skirt in a mini version and a pencil skirt version, but never a maxi.” Ditto a purple jacket with matching fringe skirt. “It’s a carryover from the spring 23 collection. We did it in copper last season.”
Rembert’s slow but steady approach seems to be working quite well for him. Abbott Elementary creator and star Quinta Brunson recently wore the designer for her hour-long sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey. And Sheryl Lee Ralph, who also stars on Abbott, wore an embroidered Aliétte gown to the Golden Globes, and picked up the award for “Supporting Actress in a TV Series.” That dress, in Rembert’s estimation, required over 900 hours of hand labor, and was an off-the-cuff riff on a dress from “Cut the Bull.”
Rembert lights up as he talks about working on the gown, and how special seeing an actor like Ralph, whose credits include a role in the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls and the sitcom Moesha, in one of his designs feels. “I grew up with her in my home,” Rembert says of the star. As the conversation comes to a wrap, Rembert boasts about opting out of the upcoming New York Fashion Week frenzy this round. It’s too much hassle. And money. And then he decides to cut the bull: “I’m gonna be honest with you, man,” he said, “I’m so much more interested in red carpet dressing.”