“Quiet luxury, oh God,” Isabel Wilkinson Schor, the designer of Attersee, said with a small sigh. “I don’t consider us a part of that trend at all. It’s been around for a very long time, and it’s equated with minimalism. I don’t see what we are doing as minimalism.”
Attersee, which Ms. Wilkinson Schor founded in 2021, is known for the kinds of high quality, strokeable fabrics associated with the trend. The clothes are classic in that they are not meant to easily go out of style, but do have quirks: a knit tube wrap as an alternative to a cardigan, a print of figure drawings, a plissé silk cape dress and caftans for summer and winter.
The impetus for the line was simply to find everyday clothes that were comfortable and beautiful, not the kind of thing that would be worn only to a big event once a year. There are oversize collarless shirts in a silk-cashmere blend for $525, sculpted duchesse satin vests for $725 and linen-cotton Mary Janes made in collaboration with the Italian shoemaker Drogheria Crivellini for $175.
This week Attersee, which is named after an Austrian lake where the artist Gustav Klimt spent summers, is opening its first public showroom, in a former fitness studio on the Upper East Side. It is a working space for Ms. Wilkinson Schor and her employees as well as an appointment-only place for customers to see and try on the clothes in person.
Ms. Wilkinson Schor, the former digital director of T magazine, grew up on East 19th Street in Manhattan, eating at Veselka and shopping at Love Saves the Day. Until she moved to the Upper East Side in 2020, she had lived downtown for her entire life.
Moving didn’t change how she dressed, she said: “I don’t see what we are doing as uptown in any way. The thing that has changed in the last three years is the hats I wear on any given day.”
That’s where the impulse to design clothes started. “Day-to-night dressing is the biggest cliché,” she said. “But I worked in different offices, and I actively did not want to look corporate. I used to have an incredible amount of agita around getting dressed. I wanted to look polished and put together and to transition after work to a different but related person, whether it is dinner with my kids and bath time or going out.”
She wanted waistbands that didn’t dig into her stomach, wools that didn’t feel itchy, knits that could breathe but didn’t show underwear underneath, a dress that could be worn during the day.
They are the kind of clothes that women champion, the kind often made by female designers — Phoebe Philo’s Céline, the Row, Toteme and Kallmeyer come to mind. Also, they aren’t as high octane or celebrity friendly as those from more headline-grabbing fashion houses.
“I would say we are adjacent to the fashion world,” Ms. Wilkinson Schor, 37, said. “We are more inspired by listening to what our customers need. I don’t think we’ll ever show at fashion week.”
Attersee has occasionally had pop-ups in New York, Los Angeles, Palm Beach, Fla., and other spots. The pop-ups could be so busy that they felt almost antithetical to the Attersee ethos. But they were still fruitful.
“I spent 45 minutes with a woman who I would say was in her early 60s and who told me all about the colors that did and did not work for her skin tone and neck lines and arm coverage,” Ms. Wilkinson Schor said. “I loved her feedback so much that we have stayed in touch, and I consider her a super-user.”
The new space, at 26 East 64th Street, is decorated in dark woods and shades of ivory. Instead of hiring a designer, Ms. Wilkinson Schor drew upon her own friends, including the French interior designer Fabrizio Casiraghi, who advised via late-night WhatsApp chats.
An area in the front is merchandised like a boutique and can be made private via sliding doors. The rest of the space is dominated by two long tables that will be used as work spaces or for parties. On one table is a book of artworks by Barbara Hepworth. A picture of her in her studio in a jacket inspired one of Attersee’s designs.
The showroom is a test for a possible store in the future. Ms. Wilkinson Schor has started working on custom pieces, including a few wedding dresses and outfits for red carpet appearances. She has plans to expand the accessories collection and offer more knits.
“A lot of people ask for swim, but I don’t think we will anytime soon,” she said.
There have been many learning curves in the transition from editor to fashion designer, including refining fit, the timing when clothes are delivered, even when to promote a heavy jacket on the Attersee Instagram account.
“I look at this as a different way of storytelling,” Ms. Wilkinson Schor said. “My hands are tied and I’m blindfolded, and I’m learning to create a world without the same tools I had.”