“Credit crunch couture.” In this time of economic restraint, the designers took a hacksaw to gowns made from miles of dusty pastel tulle and reworked the cutaway froth into more approachable clothes. The ruse rang with potential for a vibrant fusion of fashion and fun. But, unfortunately, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren let this one get away.

No woman buys a theme, so the fact that the butchered ballgowns didn’t come out until the end of the show shouldn’t have mattered. Nor that the major set decoration, a glittering disco-y globe (positioned opposite pregnant singer Róisín Murphy, who performed live decked out in a megapyramid maternity frock) seemed to have nothing to do with anything. But it felt quizzical, because the clothes never superseded the shtick in importance.

It wasn’t for lack of trying. This was a camped-out affair, with gigantic tulle appendages in turquoise, lavender and peach jutting off of shoulders, flapping against hips and piled sky-high upon shoulders, rendering a girl neckless. Even some of the more sedate looks — otherwise attractive bustier dresses, for example — flashed three or four color splashes when one would have done splendidly. By the time the designers got to their lingerie moment — in itself busy, as boudoir dressing goes — viewer dismay had set in, although it was possible to shake out of it and find some pretty robe- and pajama-inspired ensembles.

In the end, however, exactly what Horsting and Snoeren intended to telegraph here remained unclear; certainly very little about how they think women should dress next spring. Which is not to say there is no longer room in fashion for theater. But especially these days, if a collection is going to be over-the-top, it should be so for a reason — to provoke or inspire. Despite a mountain of effort and the ample skill on display, this came off as an attempted frolic that fell flat.

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