Kembra by Karen Black: Hey, it’s fashion week, and anything goes. So it’s really not that surprising to see a coven of neon ghouls being chased by a shark, right? Especially not if said ghouls are sporting fun, wearable frocks from Kembra by Karen Black. And considering that this new line is by none other than shock-rock impresario Kembra Pfahler, of cult band The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black fame, it’s downright logical.
“It’s ready-to-wear for the evil city woman,” the designer said. Loosely based on early Sixties dresses Pfahler collected throughout the past year, the dozen black-and-white looks she sent out were sleek and sexy, though with a definitely chaste quality with all the prim scoopnecks and not-that-short minis. There were also some great boxy double-breasted twill jackets energized with cotton poplin minishorts, a strapless zigzag-print party dress in silk jersey and a slew of minidresses and suits with white collars and cuffs — just the kind a modern-day Wednesday Addams would wear.
Vasseur Esquivel: After three collections, there are a few things fans of Thomas Vasseur and Gaba Esquivel have come to expect from the duo’s work: the play between sheer and solid, a deft color sense and great tailoring skills. While this collection had many of those qualities, it often fell prey to overcomplication.
Best were the clean-lined looks, such a short, safari-style jumpsuit or a fluid avocado green tank layered over a cream tube top and a cableknit mini. But a series of dresses in jersey and chiffon was weighed down by the inexplicable addition of bustles. A chic and sporty soft pink satin camisole paired with a darker pink mini had enough detail with a crisscross of chiffon straps across the bust without a length of fabric bringing up the rear. And a group of looks that combined sheer mesh with just satin bustiers and thongs or strategically placed panels of satin sewn on top left much to be desired.
Esquivel and Vasseur are obviously a talented and creative pair, but they need to rein in their sense of drama in order to fully realize their potential.
Nanette Lepore: Nanette Lepore, who’s known for her quirky sense of style and her love of vintage finds, was inspired by the preppy Connecticut girl this season. While that may sound like a promising start, the dizzying array of patterns she used made this collection look almost entirely like mismatched thrift-store finds. The striped knits were too chunky, and the fringe trims didn’t help; the gingham ruffled dress was too baby-girl, and the swirl-print dresses looked like Pucci on acid. As if that weren’t enough, Lepore also designed the shoes for the collection, which could have been pulled out of granny’s closet. The only pieces that worked were the calm and easy ones, such as the playful little box-pleat skirts, the pretty embroidered floral dresses and the cute little crewneck Ts with contrasting ribbing. Next time, think simple.
Tess Giberson: If you’re a girl who craves a little arts and crafts with your clothes, then look no further than Tess Giberson for spring. Her collection, “Each Touch Is a Fasten,” showed cute dresses smocked with white, raw-edged Swiss dots, along with pretty camisoles or graceful pleated dresses pieced together from T-shirt jersey. She also did tops appliquéd with lace in soft colors like rose and pale blue. In anyone else’s hands, the effect might have been overly sweet, but Giberson maintained her cool.
Palmer Jones: Twin sisters Kathy and Lindy Jones have garnered lots of attention lately for the artful tailoring and luxe, often custom-made fabrics of their line. On that front, the duo didn’t disappoint. They showed a series of seriously sexy pencil skirts with dual back slits, some beautiful caftan-like dresses and a trenchcoat that was as close to perfection as you can get. But the Joneses took a wrong turn with their embroidered jackets, which looked old, and with the printed blouses oddly layered under sheer, silk knits. They would do better to stick to the clean and simple looks that show off their sexy cuts and superior tailoring.