THERE ARE CHANGES AFOOT AT CERTAIN HOUSES — SUCH AS BYBLOS AND RUFFO RESEARCH. ELSEWHERE, HOWEVER, THINGS SOMETIMES LOOKED JUST A LITTLE TOO FAMILIAR OR REPETITIVE. TIME FOR SOMETHING NEW?
Byblos: Frisky leather skirts were cut all the way up to there. Sleeves were slit. Pants legs were narrow and dresses were short, black and tight. Well, there’s nothing wrong with that. Then again, it’s nothing to write home about, either. When John Bartlett was designing Byblos, he certainly wasn’t infallible, delivering his share of highs and lows. But at least his signature style was behind it all. Although these clothes demonstrated an appropriate infatuation with the Eighties and with Ghesquiere, with a design team at the helm, the collection lacked the singular focus that would distinguish it from a sea of others. Rumor has it that this company is up for sale, though Byblos officially denies it. Either way, this team will have to whip up a personality.
Samsonite Blacklabel: Last season, Gigi Vezzolo chose to launch his ready-to-wear for the luggage company Samsonite with a small showroom presentation, surrounded by the myriad accessories the company’s known for. This time, after a successful takeoff, he opted for a full-fledged show. Mistake number one. Cram editors and retailers into that same showroom, add a long runway, hot lights and bleacher seats, then show an endless number of looks — and you’ve got a bad situation. Dubbed “flight couture,” the collection had a little of everything: bold, graphically printed caftans and roomy shirts tossed over bikinis; jackets with banded collars and matching walking shorts; belted safari jackets; patterned batwing sweaters with high-waisted skirts and the ultimate packable — jersey dresses that were wrapped around the body and pinned. They looked like Eighties Lycra minidresses, but when released, they turned into long fluid numbers. Not a good idea, even for the most seasoned travelers.
Ruffo Research: It’s out with the old and in with the new at Ruffo Research. In keeping with the company’s revolving-door designer policy, this season, the baton has been passed from An Vandevorst and Filip Arickz to Sophia Kokosalaki, whose signature collection was one of the hits of the London shows. You’ll never guess what — her first Ruffo collection was influenced by the Eighties. Kokosalaki sent out angular suede blazers and strong-shouldered motorcycle jackets and pleated pants that tapered down until they became tight. From time to time, however, it looked as if Ruffo had roped in Nicolas Ghesquiere instead.
Alessandro Dell’Acqua: When fashion starts to feel like a TV rerun — and it certainly can — then you know you’re in big trouble. That was the problem Dell’Acqua had at his spring show, as number after number came out looking all too familiar. The denim with tuxedo stripes was there, so were the chiffon slipdresses and even all those pretty undergarments taken from the Intimo collection. Those signature wrap knits and fluid chiffon skirts were decorated with varsity letters this time around, but even the best schooling now couldn’t hide the fact that we’d seen it all before. There was the odd peacoat or polo shirt that looked nice, but what’s the statement there? Maybe it will show up next season.