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Maria Cornejo On Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge, Skim Lattes and Why She Won't Wear Dresses

Despite the impending arrival of New York Fashion Week, Maria Cornejo took time out of her busy schedule this morning to meet with customers at Barneys' Madison Avenue flagship. When I stopped by the store, I found the designer stationed by racks of her pre-fall and fall pieces, doling out style advice.

"You look amazing," she told a women trying a Zero + Maria blouse that coordinated with her own. "We match!" She turned to me and smiled. "Don't we look like we're in a cult?"

I laughed and nodded, yes, they did, but it was one I was willing to join. As the lady headed back to the fitting room, I took the moment to ask Maria a little bit more more about the clothes and how she's handling her pre Fashion Week stress.

The clothes look great! Tell me a little bit about your inspiration for these collections.
Pre-fall, I wanted to blend into an environment, kind of an urban camouflage. So a lot of prints are sort of disappearing into space and they aren't as full on as they have been. I took it down a notch and made it more about texture. And the fall collection, the whole feeling is I wanted it to seem handmade but look futuristic at the same time.

So this [print] was a picture from a silent movie that I paused on TV and it pixelated. See, it's very space-y. I used bamboo a lot so it's more eco-friendly and actually softer than cashmere. And shearling, which is very luxurious. I like the idea of having things this fall be a little bit more luxurious. There's also a black jump suit—I love a jumpsuit. I love looking quite boyish most of the time to be honest. Because I'm running around and also I'm small. Being small and getting older and wearing dresses…it makes me feel old, you know?

How are you preparing for New York Fashion Week?
What am I doing? Stressing, as usual! Waking up at five! Working weekends! I went to Pilates yesterday…I try to go to the gym at least twice a week. I walk across the Brooklyn Bridge for sanity—I live in Brooklyn, in Cobble Hill. I walk even in the winter, even when it's freezing cold. I love walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, I just put my shearling jacket on and my little pants and I get my coffee and just march. And it's so good for your head, you know?

What gym do you belong to?
The Y, just the Y. I love the Y because it's just all sorts of people. Know what I like about it? It has a swimming pool and I hate the gym as it is. So I just do the elliptical, watch the news and then, I just swim for 20 minutes. I do the elliptical for 14, and I swimming for 20, and then I'm done. I hate classes, I hate all that stuff. So I try to keep it as simple as possible.

What are the five things you can't live without during Fashion Week?
Apart from my family? Because my family keeps me sane. Coffee, Diet Coke, vitamins, smoothies from Organic Avenue and my tea.

Any specifics?
Skim lattes, Lapsang souchong tea—I love Lapsang souchong tea. I think for me, it's caffeine and people that keep me going.

The Zero + Maria Cornejo pre-fall and fall collections are now available at the brands' boutiques, select stores and on Zeromariacornejo.com.

Photo credit: WWD/George Chinsee

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