The music box is best known as a household classic keepsake – part child’s toy, part symbol of timeless elegance embodied in a pretty, rotating figurine, often adorned by a long elegant dress. For many, it represents more than a toy – it is an objet d’art that gave the woman of part generations an ideal to strive toward. In his breathtaking “Music Box” collection, Jackson Wiederhoeft has revived the allure of this special artifact from yesteryear, paying homage to the elegance and intrigue of styles from the mid-20th century, but with silhouettes and touches that are undoubtedly modern. Wiederhoeft calls this fusion “modern nostalgia.”
The collection takes us into the life of the girl in the music box, where, according to the designer, he postulates deeper questions: What does the girl in the music box get up to when nobody’s looking? Does she ever tire of spinning to the same old song — or wearing the same old dress? Wiederhoeft challenges us to rekindle our relationship with the girl in the box with stunning effect. Theater, music, dance – the magic of a live performance – inspires much of Wiederhoeft’s work.
The collection marks Jackson Wiederhoeft’s first New York Fashion Week presentation, following his ballet-meets-fashion-show collection debut. Each look in his collection is part of a story, representing a character. The work includes intricate details, from a long opera cape in lavender taffeta with crystal and sequin faerie and butterfly embroidery, to a ruffled night gown dress in black tulle with sequined embroidery. Wiederhoeft prefers to do all the handwork from his Brooklyn studio with a few assistants who partner with him on the details. Depending on how much embroidery goes into the piece, it can take anywhere from two days or four weeks, Wiederhoeft says.
Wiederhoeft’s dexterity with bespoke, intricate production stems from his experience in costume design. “I used to make Broadway costumes in college to pay my bills. I would buy all my art supplies with that income and that enabled me to nurture my love of the technical side. I’m really lucky that I can physically make a lot of pieces myself that are very intricate. The detailed work takes a lot of time, but I’d rather make a few very special pieces, rather than off the shelf wearable pieces: those aren’t me.”
And how has this designer, who has been discovered by the likes of Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Lil’ Kim, managed to thrive during the pandemic – a time in which so many venues and events have been indefinitely postponed? “I feel like the market during COVID is really diverse. You have people making really wearable things that you can wear at home – cozier things, and by contrast, you have people who’ve gone full fantasy. I am catering to the people who want the fantasy,” he says. “I feel like it’s what people need to see and to stay inspired. It’s easy to just be sad these days, and I know I need and seek out things that are special.”
All accessories and underpinnings stylist’s own.