The practice of making fashion academic can irritate, but somehow it’s endearing from the Creatures of the Wind guys. Shane Gabier and Chris Peters called their spring collection Fata Morgana, “a type of superior mirage that flips and inverts objects and manifests as distortions in the sky, as unrecognizable forms,” wrote Gabier in an e-mail to WWD that included a Wikipedia link. The idea, he explained, was to work with familiar things that weren’t quite placeable, things you think you’ve seen before but don’t know where. The collection was beautiful, wearable and interesting in equal measure, retaining the intellectual chic while furthering the look’s modernity and sophistication. Perhaps it was a little more relaxed this time, too.

The Fata Morgana concept first showed up in a blue-and-white floral silk jacquard, compiled from tile patterns — Delft, Chinese, Northern African. It was soft and easy on a shirt, shirtdress and knee-length embroidered skirt. Bolder moments came with combinations of black and red and the contrast of sporty versus decorative, as with a gingham tank worn with a fully embroidered skirt that swung toward Spain. A fashion cynic might see a touch of Fata Prada in the off-beat combinations of embellishment, sportiness and bold color, but it was only a touch within a strong, diverse lineup. The collection was also a testament to grace under pressure from a very small company that has been through some major changes. Creatures of the Wind said it had dissolved its year-old partnership with The Dock Group, bringing management and sales in-house while continuing to work with its original investor, Soave Enterprises.

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