After his beautiful, Corto Maltese-inspired collection for fall, the stakes and expectations were sky-high for Joseph Altuzarra this season. He came through dazzlingly, with a terrific collection built on ultra-chic codes: sophisticated, form-fitting shapes and a strong hand for draping and embroidery that was Parisian in attitude (via North Africa/Imperial Russia/India) but without the more conservative trappings of the French bourgeoisie.
Altuzarra was inspired by the 1992 movie “Orlando.” Its hero, in a quest for eternal youth, journeys through British history, existing as both man and woman for centuries. He picked up on the traveling, gender-crossing spirit from the first few men’s wear-inspired looks — a railroad-stripe cotton coat with arm vents teamed with a contrasting striped pencil skirt, and a striped patchwork dress that seemed, as he put it, “a little Oshkoshy.” Altuzarra also reworked Art Deco prints for harem pants, or mixed them with other fabrics, such as in a slim dress with a shirt top and a patterned skirt. He added a right touch of exotic — think Moroccan Bedouin — with gold fringe spiraling around skirts and his finale of stunningly elaborate, draped, embroidered and fringed scarf dresses.
The overall effect radiated a bold young elegance in a collection of mostly real clothes inventively presented.