For designer Jackson Wiederhoeft, life is a beautifully produced ballet – and in this ballet, the streets are full of illustrious dresses brushing past in melodic unison, as wearers head for meetings, errands and breaks lunch. “I really like the idea of people being able to wear poodle dresses on a daily basis,” the 28-year-old told me on a recent Zoom call on Friday afternoon.
In its few years of existence, Wiederhoeft’s eponymous fashion label has made the Houston designer, a graduate of Parsons School of Design, a designer to watch. Wiederhoeft’s childhood inspirations Nutcracker, The beauty and the Beast, and the general nostalgia of being a theater kid are apparent in his latest Resort 2022 collection, as well as his 3-year tenure at Thom Browne. Her meticulously detailed awareness and ability to create a fantastical fashion universe has won her the attention of celebrities, designers and critics, and the fashion industry has taken notice as well; the designer was named a CFDA 2022 finalist.
Although he notes that his brand has not reached its final form, there is a fancy line in his seven collections. His eighth collection, which he is currently working on, will be his first show, and he plans to present a full meal. “It will be a fashion show that meets theater, so everything from decor to choreography to casting,” he explains.
Right now, we may not see the average human heading to their 9-5 in a dress adorned with poodles, but Wiederhoeft (with us like-minded people) can dream. Below, the Sunset Park native explains why Natalie Portman star wars the character, Queen Amadala, is the ultimate style inspiration; her first big fashion purchase; and why it’s okay to be classy at work.
What’s the last thing you bought?
I bought some shiny green Loewe platform sandals [while] shop clearance, end of season sale – my favorite place to shop – at Bergdorf.
Describe your style in three words.
It’s hard. Is self-awareness a word or two words?
You could say it is.
OK. Self-aware. Without apologizing. Fancy.
What were you wearing yesterday and why did you decide to wear it?
Yesterday I wore a skirt from our fall 2022 collection. It’s acid green, fully beaded, a very plain pencil skirt but with crazy embroidery. I wore the new shoes I had bought and a pistachio moiré shirt – I gave Green Lady of Brooklyn. I like people to see the clothes on me [so they get] the feeling that they can actually wear it. You can be chic at 2 p.m. It’s cool.
As a teenager, what was your style?
It was like a wacky grandma’s tapestry. I got really interested in fashion through thrift stores and vintage stores. I vividly remember the first vintage thing I bought was this huge gold locket, so I used to layer all that grandma jewelry. I had a curtain that I would wear like a cape.
What were the other children wearing?
I went to an all-boys Catholic school, so lots of Sperrys and khakis, polo shirts. My theater friends and I would all dress up on the weekends and go to museums and thrift stores and try to feel very fancy. It was a spiritual awakening for me. Over time, I’ve become a little calmer in my own fashion because I can create so much crazy work – I have a lot of beautiful models who wear the clothes and walk much better in heels than me.
What’s the best fashion advice you’ve ever received?
I don’t know if that was advice, but I met Tziporah Salamon, one of the advanced style icons, at Augusta’s auction [in Vermont] I once went there just to watch the vintage clothing auctions. I was on the train with her afterwards, and she opened her purse. Inside her purse were seven smaller purses. I gasped. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I think seeing people like that, who are so quirky and full of surprises, it’s just like, “Do it. Just do the damn thing.
What was your first major fashion purchase?
I remember it vividly because I got my first paycheck from Thom Browne and went to Saks and bought some Louis Vuitton boots. It must have been fall 2015, and it was these space gray platform boots with a metallic finish. I felt so rich and classy. Turns out you probably shouldn’t buy $2,000 shoes when you’re working in an entry-level designer job, but that seemed like the most important thing I could do at the time.
It’s the funniest thing when you’re buying something designer for the first time and you’re like, “I made it.
Full price. Full price! And I was absolutely not brought up [that way,] I don’t buy anything at full price! I love shopping sale shelves. It’s actually a sport for me. But, at that moment, I thought to myself, “I’m a rich designer and I’m going to buy these boots.” I never said that to my mother. She would die.
What’s your favorite pop culture fashion moment?
[The journalist] Amy Fine Collins at the Met Gala, every year. I think she’s one of the classiest people on the planet, and she always wore the weirdest and most iconic designer looks on the Thom runways. We used to do so many Met Gala montages with, obviously, movie stars and stuff, but when I met Amy Fine Collins, I was so nervous. I was shaking.
What’s always in your bag?
Oh my god, the inside of my bag is so creepy. Always have your notebook – I also tell everyone who works for me. Every time a trainee starts, on the first day, I say, “Don’t forget your notebook. There are many things to observe in the world.
Who is your ultimate style icon?
It will probably be Queen Amidala. There is something about her that is very modern, nostalgia. It’s so space age, but it also gives a medieval and renaissance vibe. When I saw her as a child, I was like, “I want to be you, but I also want to dress you.” This very ambiguous grandiosity was so mysterious and enchanting and otherworldly. I was at this wedding in June, and I had these huge Princess Leia buns, and I felt like I was channeling that energy.
I’ll say it: I feel like Queen Amidala is having a moment.
Yeah. I think his moment is infinite. Some trends are forever. The tectonic plates moved when The Phantom Menace arrived and we saw her for the first time.
What is the style of a friend or designer that you admire the most?
Sandy Powell. I think she is one of the hottest designers. His costumes are among the finest costumes in the world. It’s my dream to dress her up one day. She often wears fashion for a cause or deliberately. I always thought that if I went bankrupt I would try to intern for her – that’s my backup plan. I want to do an internship for her or Christian Lacroix as an exit strategy.
Do you have any major fashion regrets?
I feel like all my stories come back to shoes, so I’ll try not to talk about shoes anymore. But also, it’s the first thing that comes to mind, so I’ll just say it. There were these Prada slingback, leopard print, pony hair shoes, and they were on sale, and they were my size, and I didn’t buy them. You know what? I literally came home that night, and called the store, and they said, “We sold it.” I’ve spent the last four years trying to find these shoes. They don’t exist anywhere in my size.
Looks from Wiederhoeft’s Pre-Spring 2023 collection.
What is your daily uniform?
Most of the time it’s pretty laid back. I definitely love a Uniqlo t-shirt and oversized baggy jeans. I love feeling like a little baby with my pants falling off. I also love jewelry and collect a lot of vintage jewelry so it’s usually just a plain necklace just to have something cool. Then, of course, my glasses. I need them to see, but I’m also really into nerdy glasses right now.
What is your pet peeve style?
See body makeup on clothes. Obviously, we all love a little body makeup, but if it rubs onto your clothes within 10 minutes, I think that might be a little too much. We all want to look our best, but remember to take care of our clothes too.
Last question, we come back to the shoes. What is your favorite shoe?
For everyday, it’s my Nike Air Max, always. I have a closet full of them. But when I try to be beautiful, it’s either Prada or Marc Jacobs. I have a very nice pair of matte black leather Marc Jacobs boots that are my ultimate workhorse. They date, I think, from the fall of 2015. A friend of mine worked for Marc, and I traded them Thom Browne sweaters for Marc Jacobs shoes.