“The Leonard woman is back.” In case the show notes did not fully convey the French house’s fresh start after its one-season stint under Maxime Simoens, the soundtrack left no doubt. “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me, and I’m feeling good,” trilled Nina Simone, as models walked out draped in the house’s signature botanical prints.
Unlike his predecessor, creative director Raffaele Borriello used these archival patterns freely — from the simple yellow-on-black floral silhouettes of the Mikado motif to the lush bamboo foliage of Florida. The goal was the same: Attract a younger, more international customer to the brand, which does the bulk of its business in Asia. But where Simoens brought a certain Parisian chic to the looks, Borriello went for hot Latino glam, hammering home his message with an orgy of thigh-high slits, plunging necklines and sheer fabrics that left little to the imagination.
Sharp-shouldered dresses and artfully draped jumpsuits reflected the Italian designer’s ease with both tailoring and flou. By toning it down a notch, he could do himself — and the traditional Leonard customer — a favor.