In the Beginning, There Was the Geneva

In the Beginning, There Was the Geneva

By : Amanda Richards

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Nao in the Geneva dress

Many fashion brands have a perennial favorite, one specific piece that speaks to the core identity and overall aesthetic of the label. Burberry has the Heritage Trench. Diane Von Furstenberg has the wrap dress. Levis has the 501 jeans. Chanel has the 2.55 bag, not to mention the iconic tweed suit.

For US, it’s the Geneva dress. Funnily enough, it didn’t start as a dress at all.

“It all started with the Genevette,” says Alex Waldman, co-founder and chief creative officer. “I wanted to create a top that would organically fall into place. It was three-quarter length sleeve, and was meant to be a little bit higher on the hip on one side than the other. It created this cascading effect. Then I was like, what would happen if we brought it down, say, to midi length? When we did that and saw how it fell across the body, it was one of those light bulb moments.”

Alex says the Geneva acted as the benchmark for how the overall design aesthetic of the brand would take shape. It's architectural and technical without looking overly designed, and made from a high-quality jersey that’s become ubiquitous across brand categories. It’s an approachable, versatile choice for those just dipping a toe into fashion, but the subtle cascade detail makes it feel like an intentional sartorial choice. The Geneva stands on its own as a full look, and is simple enough to style with other things.

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“It’s the dress that helped us figure out what we wanted to say as a brand,” Alex says. “It speaks our language.”

And over the four years that the brand has been in existence, Alex and the design team have brought several different iterations of the Geneva to life, creating subtle fabric and detail changes to suit what our core customer is looking for.

“When we wanted something more elevated than jersey, we created a satin-back crepe Geneva. We added it to our petite range. We made a Fog Geneva, out of a fine mesh; you could put that over the solid jersey Geneva, or over jeans and a tank top. We created a V-neck, a long sleeve, and made a bunch of different color combinations. We really understood the pliability of this dress, and so did our customers — many of them have more than one.”

The Geneva is, of course, still part of the US offerings, and Alex says it always will be.

“We’ve gone really far with the Geneva, as far as creating different options and variations for people who not only want to wear it, but want to wear more than one version of it,” she says. “It looks incredible across an infinite range of bodies without hiding or minimizing anything. It takes something completely ordinary and turns it into something interesting and high-quality. It represents exactly what we wanted, and what we’ll always want, for our brand.”