“You can wash this gown in the washing machine,” designer Kirk Pickersgill said, pointing to an extravagant, Crayola-hued dress constructed out of a “neoprene-jersey double knit.” Behind Pickersgill, who was speaking on a Zoom call from Toronto, sat a garment rack full of colorful, red carpet–ready clothes that are easy to picture on leading ladies like Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. This is the Greta Constantine resort 2023 aesthetic: buoyancy mixed with power.
“This season it’s all about dreams and rebirth,” said Pickersgill. But more on that machine-wash-ready gown. Neoprene, which the designer also described as sweat wicking, is a fabric that the Toronto-based brand—which is led by Pickersgill and Stephen Wong—has employed for its most spectacular pieces this season. “It’s an activewear fabric. It’s made for swimsuits and leggings and all that,” Pickersgill said of the unexpected choice. “But we’ve adapted it for gowns and dresses.” Adapting the unexpected to glamorous effect is a key focus of the brand.
And it has certainly done it well. The label leaned into its look-at-me aesthetic here, crafting clothes that feel imbued with joy. The colors, partly inspired by Pickersgill’s Jamaican heritage, match up to the increasingly vibrant landscape of today’s fashion. There are coral reef greens and rich blues and pinks the color of beach pebbles. “Jamaica really brings the spice and the color to Greta, and then Canada cools me down a little bit,” Pickersgill said, laughing. There are also the signature voluminous shapes and high-level details one expects from the brand at this point.
And while the designs of the resort collection are certainly intended for all, Pickersgill said he and Wong are inspired by strong, powerful Black women. Think Angela Bassett, Ava DuVernay, and Oprah Winfrey.
The diverse perspective of Greta Constantine even shows up in practical concerns. “A lot of fabric has to have some kind of stretch to it when you’re dealing with a body and body types,” Pickersgill explains. “We always try to find something with some kind of stretch so you’re not neglecting a certain body shape.” Still, he resists being boxed in to only designing for one specific type of person or customer. As he put it, “I’d love to be the poster child for someone who only represents Black people and Black culture, but there are so many other cultures out there. There’s so much diversity in numbers.”