"Casual Americana Wonderland." That's the dreamy description coined by fashion designers and stylists Emily Current and Meritt Elliott for a world that feels rich with childhood memories, history and hazy sun-drenched afternoons spent running through a field — a world that the Los Angeles-based duo has managed to evoke through past projects and collaborations and now with their new clothing line, the Great.
The two are best known for creating the denim line Current/Elliott, which launched in 2008 and quickly became the cool premium denim label and go-to purveyor of the boyfriend jean. Since departing Current/Elliott in 2012, they have infused their Casual Americana Wonderlandaesthetic into various projects, including a bag collection for Kate Spade called Westward and a line of whimsical home décor and furniture, which includes a ticking stripe chaise and a brass bunny-table lamp, with Pottery Barn Teen.
"There's always humor, charm and a little childlike fantasy to what we do," says Current.
The Great is their next design venture and reinforces the same affection for vintage and nostalgia seen in their other creative endeavors. But, this time, Current and Elliott are working with a broad range of fabrics, silhouettes and references — and leaving out denim, for now. The pair considers their new line "advanced contemporary," with retail prices starting at $95 for T-shirts, $265 to $355 for pants and $1,395 for leather pants. It's to be available starting later this month at Nordstrom, Barneys, Ron Herman, 70 specialty stores, shopbop.com and thisisthegreat.com.
Their debut spring collection has an underlying tomboy feel with military and classic work-wear influences, juxtaposed with feminine flourishes such as a ruffled hem at the edge of a traditional menswear-inspired button-down shirt or an embroidered lace Peter Pan-style collar on a cream-colored, Victorian-era-inspired blouse.
A trouser-style pant is a signature silhouette for their spring line and has elastic tabs at the waist so they can be worn high on the waist or really slouchy at the hip. "We created cool, effortless silhouettes that could easily be worn with heels and a blazer or a sweatshirt and sneakers," says Current.
Blazers and sweatshirts are also part of the line, inspired by vintage items the pair has sourced from flea markets and vintage stores over their 15-year friendship. The Undone blazer is based on a little boy's robe, but tailored and structured in a lightweight navy blue, textured wool gauze to fit like a perfectly worn-in and slightly shrunken jacket.
Wool suiting also appears in the line, as a cropped, navy pinstripe slouchy trouser and a matching swing-coat-style blazer, also with cropped sleeves.
"We really identified with this casual, American girl, who is into fashion and wears jeans a lot," Current says, "but when she's not in jeans she wants clothes for a girl who wears jeans."
According to Elliott, proportion was of paramount importance.
"We're obsessed with proportion," she says. "As consumers we'll be out shopping and buy pants in a large and a blazer in super small. We like those extremes."
With the Great, the play on proportion is not extreme, but does work to temper the tomboy aspect of the inaugural collection. Cropped sleeve lengths on blazers, billowy blouses with dipped hems in the back and extra long, flowy skirts are meant to be paired back to the more masculine pieces.
Current and Elliott's playful point of view also works in their kid's collection for sizes 2-5 toddler, the Great Little, which consists of tiny versions of the sweatshirts, T-shirts and sweatpants in the regular line.
"That's a personal aspect and reflection of where we've been," says Current of the Great Little, "It was just authentic." Both new moms, Current and Elliott gave birth to their daughters just six weeks apart.
The name the Great also holds a personal sentiment for Current and Elliott. "The words 'the great' are usually at the end or beginning of something significant, like Alexander the Great or 'The Great Gatsby,'" says Current. "This feels like a great moment for us too. Like we're standing on the edge of the cliff and about to do something great."