In 1909 Ynés Mexia left Mexico, where she had been running her late father’s ranch, for San Francisco. Serious financial and relationship struggles had driven her to a mental breakdown and she went there seeking psychiatric treatment and, ultimately, a new life. She would find it. And it was nature that would be the catalyst for Mexia’s transformation. She joined California’s then-burgeoning environmental movement, trekking through the redwood forests as part of the Sierra Club and campaigning for their conservation. In nature, she finally discovered a sense of freedom and purpose. One that would inspire her, at 51, to do something unheard of in 1921: go back to school to study natural history and science. A few years later Mexia would go on her first plant-collecting expedition to Mexico with Stanford University, a trip that uncovered 500 new specimens. Over the next decade plus, Mexia defied the gendered expectations of her field, crisscrossing north and south America often alone or with the help of indigenous people. “I don’t think there’s any place in the world where a woman can’t venture,” she once said. Mexianthus mexicanus was the first, of many, plants named in her honor and she collected more than 145,000 specimens over the course of her brief, but illustrious, career. When she died of lung cancer in 1938, Mexia left much of what she had to her beloved Sierra Club. She knew, of course, how essential the protection of plant biodiversity was to our survival as humans.
What we’ve come to understand more clearly than ever over the past two years, is that simply spending time in nature, among plants, is just as essential to our sanity. To our happiness, to our vitality, to our overall well-being. In dreaming up the designs for this season, nature was both our backdrop and our driving force. But the clothes for High Summer 2022, a gorgeous panoply of colors, patterns, and shapes, are conceived to work organically in any setting, natural or not; designed, really, to transcend time and place.
Long, floaty silhouettes; hooded caftans; and breezy separates with ruffled and shirred detailing are cast in contrasting black and natural dip-dye and tiger tie-dye, hearkening back to the bohemian vibes of 1970s Goa beach-life. A new psychedelic swirling check pattern is a graphic nod to the eye-popping optic paintings of Bridget Riley. An array of relaxed dresses, shorts and skirts cast bohemian calico—in bright grassy green, a honeyed amber, and deep cherry red—as a new neutral pattern. And Anaak’s now signature, grand-scale silk airi dresses, in mini and maxi versions, adopt a palette of colors (saffron, peony, grass, cherry, and black) that feel sprung from the natural environment. Mexia once said, of her late blooming career as an ethno-botanist: “I have a job where I produce something real and lasting.” A sentiment that we embrace and embody with this latest collection: clothes that are meant to endure.