Carolina Herrera just might be the chicest woman alive. So a collection like the one she showed for spring confounds. Herrera’s design philosophy has always been about making women look their most beautiful and not letting wayward editorial tendencies interfere with that goal. Why, then, would she get twisted in so heavy-handed a motif? Her Japanese basket fascination revealed itself in endless fabric treatments (raffia, burlap, open weaves, tree-bark jacquards), rope tricks, most around the models’ waists, and a palette that embraced the downer side of au naturale, albeit with a few shots of feisty amethyst. All of which pushed the concept of artfully rough-hewn too far; what woman wants to spend thousands on a big-event gown to look like a basket case? Thus, evening proved particularly problematic, save for a few gentle offerings such as a languid beauty in rose fils coupe chiffon.


On the up side, when Herrera let the motif breathe a little, she had the most success. This happened with dresses in soft fabrics that merely hinted at the theme, and the lineup’s sportswear looks, including a two-tone raffia jacket with a thick braided collar with an embroidered skirt and an iridescent coppery satin shirt tucked into tweedy side-tied pants.

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