Thematic fashion is risky business. On one hand, the industry, particularly the audience at a runway show, loves a context; on the other, there’s nothing worse than a gimmick. This season, Carolina Herrera found herself negotiating a tricky middle ground complicated by the fact that she chose to work with not one, but two ultraspecific themes. The dominant motif was Asian, specifically Korean, according to show notes, that was reflected by intricate folds, a bird print and knotted belts. Then there was a major floral moment inspired by traditional 18th-century botanical plates at times translated all too literally into blown-out prints.


Both ideas resulted in beautiful things. Herrera tapped into a gorgeous Eastern-influenced color palette — crimson, magenta and emerald green — dramatically offset by black. She handled origami folds with chic precision on daywear, such as her signature crisp white blouses and pencil skirts, and dramatic flourish for night. A burst of architectural ruffles at the small of the back transformed a simple slim-cut dress done in bold tangerine, and a softly sculpted peplum brought an arty glamour to a jasmine-printed ivory faille gown. But for all the hits there were also some misses, many of which chalked up to needless details. Subtract the flat bows and cords that were tied directly around the bust and cartoonish floral appliqués and the problem was solved.

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