Cult Gaia has more than a few immediately recognizable, cult-favorite pieces. Perhaps you remember the wooden, crescent-shaped Ark bag that put Jasmin Larian’s label on the map some six years ago. Or now, maybe you’ve seen a few cool brides sporting thedraped fringe Renata gown or the feathered Shannon mini dress at their post-ceremony dance parties. But despite this tendency towards quasi-ubiquity (how oversaturated can a $1,000 dress really be?) Larian says she thrives on change. Part of the catalyst is the fact that when you Google “Cult Gaia bag” or “Cult Gaia dress” the suggested term “Cult Gaia dupe” is not far behind. “The second I’m into something, I’m over it by then, so it’s about how we can change,” she says. “I like to design in contrasts, otherwise I get bored.”
That may sound a bit impersonal, but her pre-fall is not. Inspired by Larian’s Persian heritage and 1960s Vogues she found in the New York Public Library spotlighting Iran, the collection goes deeper than Instagram-bait. One of the models is Mya Ghorbani, granddaughter of the performer Googoosh, who Larian says is “like Madonna in Iran.” She wears a series of brightly colored dresses and matching sets embellished with all manner of prints (created in partnership with a Persian artist), gold hardware, and extraneous straps. Sculptural hair and bright makeup help transport the onlooker into this Y2K-meets-’60s-Middle-East world.
Handily, these fit into the current appetite for psychedelic prints, bright colors, clingy fabrics, and cutouts. But Cult Gaia has always offered an elevated version of the zeitgeist, with artistic touches and funky finishings to help lead the pack instead of following it. But there’s such an excess of embellishment that the more pared back versions are the most appealing. Larian has always aimed to merge art and fashion, and the sculptural flourishes can really make or break a look. The bandeau top with a giant belt buckle is a bit much, but the draped gold fringe top and the hot pink one shoulder caftan are just the right amount of extra. Similarly, the crochet dresses constructed like a puzzle with a quarter of the pieces missing are most effective in white and black. Elegance here is not refusal, but rather saying yes to only what resonates most clearly to you.