Bill Blass: Fashion can be many things. But it is seldom reverential, and cannot be static or reactionary. (Intentional retro is a different matter.) Thus, Michael Vollbracht’s first runway collection for Bill Blass was doomed to fail. Vollbracht, who worked shoulder-to-shoulder with Blass on his retrospective at Indiana University last year, spent two years immersed in the designer’s archives. Before that, Vollbracht had taken a 15-year hiatus from the fashion world.

Just like Rip Van Winkle, he reentered a very different world than the one he left. Back then, models modeled. Lunching ladies were probably fashion’s most important constituency, and Bill Blass, the man and house, sat at the top of their games. Clearly Vollbracht, along with those calling the business shots chez Blass, refused to accept that times have changed. If all of the recent resuscitations of storied houses have indicated anything, it’s that sadly, or not, you can’t go home again. Or at least you can’t go home, conjure up the same muse, pull out the same patterns, settle into the same chair and get back to business as usual.

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