Sometimes when fashion reality bites, it’s with sharp, savvy teeth and an aura of bravado. So hats off to Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, who on Wednesday night showed a collection that was terrific on many levels, not the least of which was its premise that investment dressing need not default to solid swaths of outerwear gray and camel. These designers prefer their investments of a riskier sort, with heightened personality that, come fall, should also heighten the gotta-have-it resolve of their downtown fan base.


Now about that personality — a cool girl’s dream in bold shapes and fabric mixes arranged with faux-ergonomic ardor. By day, McCollough and Hernandez infused practicality with considerable edge, starting with great outerwear in mixes of tweeds and twills piled on over low-slung skirts or boyish shorts — a look the designers love — and thick cabled tights. Wide contrasting pipings, bold zippers and racy gloves contributed to the young, tough chic attitude that was aggressive but not off-putting, an important counterpoint to the wide-eyed optimism turning up elsewhere.


The dresses were equally terrific. Here, McCollough and Hernandez pared down proportions but not style. Along the way they proved that a sheath need be neither dull nor proper when worked in deep-toned and black devoré velvets for a sense of lovely decay. A perfect dark victory for girls who want to dress up without looking fussy.

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