Althea's Fall InspirationBehind The Scenes



In anticipation of the September 15th release of GRAMMAR’s fall collection, Althea discusses her goals for the collection and why Maine, the location of the new lookbook, is so personal. Each lookbook speaks to the mood of the collection. This season, GRAMMAR travels to the lush green forests and other-worldly beaches along northern New England’s coast. Read the interview to find out how our first new fabric is an enchanting new take on GRAMMAR’s iconic white shirt.

Callie: Can you tell me about the idea behind the Fall 2021 Collection?

Althea: Everything I create is a kind of a progression from the season before. For the 2021 spring collection I was thinking about this sort of mania, of being let out of a cage and feeling wild and free for the first time in at least a year and a half, since lockdown began in March 2020. I think this collective feeling of “being let out of a cage” did come to fruition throughout early spring and summer of this year, so the mood of the South of Berlin Lookbook matched the spirit of the moment.

I feel like when you go from one extreme you go to the other. In designing for the fall collection, I was thinking about this shift from being “out there” and free to something more self-reflective and inward. I was thinking about this act of “going back inside,”—going inside of yourself, inside of your cocoon and into your fantasy world. I want to capture this feeling of comfort.

Callie: Can you tell me more about how this upcoming collection captures those thoughts and feelings?

Althea: In terms of the collection, I am working with a new fabric for the first time in the history of GRAMMAR. It was very important that this collection feel different and feel like a new beginning. I needed a fabric that had a fall/winter feeling, because the poplin, even though I consider it a year round fabric, is definitely more spring than fall. I needed a fabric that was more warm and cozy, something that just feels comfortable and soft on your skin—like a luxurious cocoon.

The Novel Jacket in Natural Flannel

A perfect combination of dreamy draping and structured silhouette.

I began my fabric research by thinking about flannel, which is a classic cold-weather fabric used in shirting. I wondered if I could find something nice and luxurious in the flannel realm. When you think of a flannel shirt, you think of plaid, which is not super luxury. I wondered if I could find something that’s organic; I wanted something that is soft, warm, and cozy like flannel. I found this beautiful fabric from Japan made from organic cotton. It’s super duper soft, super high quality, super luxurious, and drapey—more like a heavyweight silk. It also reminds me of a lightweight wool flannel. It’s a unique fabric that’s not like anything I’ve seen before.

Callie: I can’t wait to see and feel this new fabric! I love this idea of a GRAMMAR shirt being a “luxurious cocoon.” So not only do we have a new collection to look forward to, but there’s also an upcoming lookbook. Can you tell me where this lookbook is set?

Althea: This lookbook will take place in Maine, my home state. The creation of each lookbook is always a confluence of pieces coming together. A lot of it depends on where Lily Cummings, my collaborator, is going to be and her travel schedule. Lily is coming back to the United States for the first time since the holidays of 2019—so for the first time in over a year and a half. She's coming to New York, and then she's going up to Maine to be with her family. I had already been thinking of Maine as a potential location, and sure enough, she messaged me and was like “We should do the lookbook in Maine.” She said this before I had even told her I was designing with this new flannel fabric. The decision was an immediate yes.

It’s special that it is in Maine because it’s where I’m from, it's where Lily is from, and it's how we connected initially, through our work and our shared personal history and upbringing. There are very few people who are from Maine who leave Maine—who come to New York and work in fashion. It’s especially rare where Lily’s from, which is a very small coastal town. I grew up outside of Portland, which is the biggest city in Maine, but it's still a very small city in the grand scheme of things. So when Lily suggested that we should do the lookbook in Maine, I was like, “Yes, this is perfect.”

Lately, I've been inspired by imagery related to fairy tales and feelings of nostalgia and how these are connected by the imagination. I have many childhood memories of Maine, so this idea of childhood and fantasy and feelings of coziness and dreaminess are things I that would like to capture in this lookbook. When Lily started sending me pictures of her town, again, I was like, “Oh my god, this is perfect.” It's so insanely gorgeous, first of all, and it's just got that mood of escapism, of being alone on the beach in this beautiful, almost otherworldly landscape.

Reflection and Comfort

Fall is a time for curling into ourselves, in our own cocoon.

Callie: What kinds of imagery did you seek inspiration from?

Althea: I have a lot of things on my Pinterest mood board that are both art and fashion photography. I was drawn to imagery with curves and circles—again, that idea of kind of curling up into yourself.

But then, I also have a lot of surrealist and fantasy-type imagery. I thought about Alice in Wonderland, and the rabbit hole of the subconscious. I also found some great fashion editorials that have a similar vibe.

I have this photoshoot on my mood board by Elizaveta Porodina of Lou Schoof and Nils Schoof, who are brother and sister, in winter clothes on a beach that's completely empty. And it's kind of like this, it has a surreal kind of aspect where it almost feels like it's a different world, like you're walking on Tataouine or something.

When I showed Lily my mood board, she was super into it and was like, “A lot of these things are on my mood boards, too.” She was totally aligned with the mood. There's also this amazing fort in Lily’s town that almost looks like a castle, which appeals to that fairy tale and fantasy idea. She and I have also been talking about boats, buoys, and other Maine tropes that we can use in a new and different way. The area where Lily’s from has a very specific New England nostalgia that I would argue only exists in Maine because it's still super rural and out there.

Callie: When you were a child, did you ever visit where Lily is from? Do you have childhood memories or family memories connected to that place?

Althea: I definitely have visited the area, but I have no idea if I've visited her exact town. Once you are north of where I grew up in Portland, much of the coast looks similar, so the location looks very familiar to me and has that sort of classic Maine look to it. I've spent a lot of time in that area and it's gorgeous. It's very classic quintessential Maine.

Photoshoot by Elizaveta Porodina of siblings Lou Schoof and Nils Schoof

The surreal freedom that comes from existing in your own imagination.

Callie: Is the model also from Maine?

Althea: I actually don't know where she's from, but she's definitely not from Maine. When Lily and I first started talking about a model, I told her I just wanted someone with long hair. She said, “Okay, you gotta give me something more than that” [Laughs]. She told me that she was getting this “English rose” kind of vibe from my moodboard, and she has this friend who she calls her “English rose.” The model’s name is Katy Syme. At first I wasn’t sure, but then I thought about it and was like yeah, she’s perfect.

Lily’s relationship with Katy is kind of like the one she has with Marte from the Amsterdam Lookbook. Katy is one of her close friends whom she has photographed many, many times over the years. I went through Lily's Instagram and looked at all the photos that she's taken of Katy and concluded that yeah, she is perfect. She does look very British which fits with the New England location because of its British heritage. In the images on my mood board, there are a lot of women with porcelain skin, rosy cheeks—a very 19th century fairytale look.

I think the fact that the model is a long-time friend of Lily’s is just going to make it so special. I know from the relationship between Lily and the model for the Amsterdam photoshoot how magical the Maine lookbook will be because Katy and Lily have the shorthand basically; they know each other so well.

Callie: Ah, yeah I love the Amsterdam Lookbook.

The Long Pronoun Dress in Natural Flannel

Wrapped in flannel, sensuously hugging around a cinched waist.

Althea: I think it's objectively the best one because there's this emotional connection that you feel between Lily and Marte that's special and unique. I mean, obviously Lily is able to create a rapport with all of the models she photographs, but there’s something about having a relationship over many years. They've worked together a million times; they’re friends; they hang out together socially. There's just no way to replicate that with someone you've just met.

Callie: This sounds like it is going to be a very special, personal photoshoot.

Althea: Yeah, it has the potential to be super magical—even more than GRAMMAR’s lookbooks normally are because it is so personal.

Callie: Which pieces from the collection are you going to showcase?

Althea: This collection feels like a new beginning in a way because it's the first time that I’m adding a new fabric. We are going to photograph everything in the new flannel. The flannel collection includes four new styles, one updated style, and three styles we currently have in poplin. Usually, my new collections include twelve pieces. I look forward to seeing what happens in this photoshoot when Lily and the model have more time to spend with each piece to capture them in different settings and moods.

Structure and Curves

Surrounded and enveloped in soft, luxurious comfort.

Callie: What color options will you have?

Althea: There will be three colors. There’s a cream-colored undyed cotton flannel. It's hard to capture how pretty the color is. It is warmer than a cream, I guess. There will also be a gray color option. It’s like a gray-flannel suit kind of gray. The color has depth because there are a few different colors in it, so it’s nuanced and very beautiful. I’m obsessed with gray. I’m also offering a black color option, of course.

Callie: I’m seriously so ready to see this collection. Will you photograph all of the colors for the lookbook?

Althea: Lily will photograph everything in the natural color; since we've always focus on white poplin in the lookbooks, it just makes sense. It makes everything look cohesive when I go to select and arrange photos.

Callie: That makes sense. I can tell just by hearing you talk about this lookbook that there’s so much good energy involved in its creation. The vibe I’m sensing is very warm and personal.

Althea: Yes, very warm. That's the feeling that ties everything together: a soft, warm fabric; a personal connection to the location; and friendship between Lily and me and Lily and the model.

Callie: I love how warm GRAMMARs expression of minimalism is. I feel like there is still this idea that the minimalist aesthetic must be cold and austere, but you manage to make it warm and personal.

The Split Infinitive in Natural Flannel

A classic GRAMMAR favorite in warm and sumptuously soft flannel.

Althea: That's definitely something I've always thought about because, yeah, minimalism is definitely associated with a certain coldness, and I've never wanted that for GRAMMAR. I've always wanted the brand to feel warm and welcoming and inclusive rather than cold or exclusive.

When designing a new collection or creating a lookbook, I am always thinking about inviting people in and not keeping people out. I want what I create to be personal and make people feel good.

Callie: What better way to do that than with this new, soft flannel fabric that you’re using. When will you be introducing the fall collection?

Althea:September 15th.

Callie: I can’t wait to see the Maine Lookbook, too. When is the photoshoot happening?

Althea: August 23rd. I am so excited to see it, too. Like I told you in our Casting Models conversation, I’m never present for the photoshoot; it is just Lily and the model. So, it always feels like Christmas when Lily sends me the photos.

Callie: Yay! Very cool. Well, Althea, thanks so much for talking with me.

Althea: Thank you so much, Callie.

The Poetry Blouse in Natural Flannel

A soft, romantic shape and lyrical details.

A Preview of the Maine Lookbook

A sneak peek of our Maine Lookbook, which embraces the simple warmth and comfort of luxurious Japanese cotton flannel. Coming soon.

Behind the Scenes: Althea on Casting Models

Althea discusses her process for finding the perfect model for GRAMMAR's photoshoots.

Somewhere South of Berlin Lookbook

See our previous lookbook from Spring 2021.