The days of Esther Williams’ kitschy poolside glamour are so long gone it’s hard to believe that level of fantastical twee was ever a reality. It’s certainly at odds with the casualized perpetual quest to look “effortless” today. Yet somehow Josep Font let himself get lost in a retro world of Williams, soirées at the Waldorf Astoria and music by Xavier Cugat while designing his spring collection. And without skimping on the campy side of that world, he came up with a lineup that brought its flamboyance, color and concept of head-to-toe done-ness into today.
Watching the models walk through the sunlit space at Pier 59 Studios in vivid combinations of red, white, pink, yellow and aqua blue with pert straw bow headpieces while the band Negro Helado, dressed in white tuxedos, performed throwback easy-listening tunes, just like Cugat’s orchestra did, was a downright delight. Font also mentioned Maria Svarbova’s swimming pool photographs, their bright but eerie calmness, which likely cooled some of the retro flamboyance. For example, daywear was done in architectural shapes — sportswear in sculpted but minimal curves — in mostly ivory punctuated by a pop of fluorescent yellow or orange. The lineup’s simplest look was probably a spare white cotton peasant blouse worn with pleated trousers, a yellow belt and feather slides, and there were a few pretty purist dresses in stark white or scarlet done in gentle folds.
But for the most part, Font let his imagination run wild with blown-out red paisley prints on a molded coatdress worn over aqua pants, or an aqua and white honeycomb sundress with a bright yellow strap and a wave of sculpted ruffles at the shoulder, hip and hem. There were rainbow-colored tulle gowns and a dress in blue, red and silver lame flowers with puffed tulle sleeves. Definitely not for every day, these dresses demanded an extra special occasion. Anyone invited to a party for which such a look would be appropriate should RSVP “yes.”