PLATS DU JOUR
WISTFUL, NOSTALGIC, UPLIFTING OR DOUR — THESE WERE A FEW OF SPRING’S MOODS. HUSSEIN CHALAYAN, FOR INSTANCE, CREATED TORN, TATTERED AND OTHERWISE DECONSTRUCTED LOOKS, WHILE CACHAREL WENT UPBEAT WITH BRIGHT, GRAPHIC PRINTS. MEANWHILE, CLEMENTS RIBEIRO CHANNELED THE SPIRIT OF WOODSTOCK, AND RICHARD EDWARDS TOLD A BOY-MEETS-GIRL STORY.

Hussein Chalayan: With instinctive grace, Hussein Chalayan presented a dour, romantic collection that captured a moment — this moment. Would his clothes have seemed as poignant a season ago? Will they seem too morose six months from now? Whatever the case, Chalayan took a big risk in presenting his message — abstract aggression, as telegraphed by a black chiffon babydoll top and grommetted lace-up pants. A lesser designer could have stumbled under the weight of a collection that flaunted a type of dishevelment that suggested violence. But not Chalayan. To create the mood he worked the trappings of utility — D rings and O rings, toggles and drawstrings — to decorative rather than useful ends. Jackets were cinched from behind with belts wide enough to provide lower lumbar support, while shirts and short skirts came out trailing their straps and industrial trimmings like so many ribbons. Silver zippers curved across a dress without a nod to rhyme or reason. It was polished disarray.
While these clothes, which came in black, steely gray or combative greens, seemed to reference current events, some of Chalayan’s more wistful pieces played with time in a different way. Nineteenth-century dandies like Beau Brummell were celebrated for their ability to tie the perfect necktie, spending hours in front of the mirror to affect spontaneity. In the same way, Chalayan showed a ragged half of a Victorian riding coat of the kind those dandies would have worn, but put it over a shredded party dress, both deconstructed and reconstructed to the brink of decay. A delicate bodice came precisely ripped. Lapels peeled away from his jackets and tattered streamers of chiffon hung from his gowns. But even time couldn’t have ravaged them so splendidly. Chalayan’s clothes were fascinating for the craft in their creation, and unsettling for the destruction they implied.

Cacharel and Clements Ribeiro: With Suzanne Clements and Inacio Ribeiro at the helm, Cacharel has become known for its cute cuts and prints, prints, prints. This season, the designers took a tutti-frutti tack, employing all the trappings of tropicana from some corny orchid-splashed numbers to pink parrot prints. A shirtdress was punched up with zingy stripes and a girly skirt boasted crazy daisies. Even the frilled pieces came graphically done, with a proper little Victorian lace top cut in lace that spelled out “Love” in a rolling script.
The London-based duo’s own signature collection, Clements Ribeiro, was just as feminine, though its inspiration came via Woodstock, not Miami Beach. They reworked such hippie classics as the lace-up knit top, the quaintly embroidered peasant dress and the suede fringed boot, but their version was a high-heeled fringed sandal and came from the label’s new accessories lines. Unfortunately, however, while the collection was full of sweet nostalgia, the clothes were sapped of all the rebellious attitude of the originals.

Richard Edwards: It can be a daunting task to take something you know well and merge it with the new and noteworthy. But Richard Bengtsson and Edward Pavlick, the duo behind the men’s wear label Richard Edwards, were up to the challenge. In their second women’s collection, the boys discovered how to balance a quiet, pretty femininity and their razor-sharp tailoring. There were still pantsuits aplenty, only this time, dressed up with ruffles, big and small. Delicate ones also edged simple dresses, while the larger variety were worked onto jacket lapels. In an amusing turn, they even parlayed the ruffles into leis on the necks of tanks or waists of pants.
Ruffles aside, white — quickly emerging as this season’s hot trend — was also in abundance here, as were the odd smattering of pink, black and their traditional men’s wear fabrics. But don’t think androgynous. Bengtsson and Pavlick reworked their men’s wear by adding sexy lingerie touches of nude stretch satin, sometimes as a bra strap on tops or a faux G-string on pants. Their attempt at artsiness, however, led them into unknown territory, especially in long tunic dresses with front flaps that swished between the legs as the models walked — an odd effect that should have been left on the discard rack.

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