Alexis Mabille said his fall couture collection was inspired by a Cy Twombly painting — though you wouldn’t have guessed it from looking at his parade of pastel showstoppers. If Twombly’s art is the pictorial equivalent of a murmur, then this was a Barbra Streisand song.
With their graphic ribbons and lavishly tiered skirts, the gowns were giddily in-your-face. Mabille borrowed Twombly’s palette of sunrise and sundown tones, and the effect was suitably delicate at times. Applied to shiny fabrics such as duchesse satin, however, the powdery shades popped like candy wrappers.
The designer stuck to sculptural shapes that were deceptively simple, countered with intricate surface effects. A case in point was the finale look, which paired a cape in dramatic platinum and gold silk folds with trousers in crystal-embroidered tulle.
It was one of several outfits that demanded a grand entrance — literally, in the case of triple-width dresses that would struggle to fit through a regular door frame. They ranged from a frothy tiered version, in flesh-colored tulle embroidered to look like lace, to a minimal white shirtdress with a flounced back.
“The idea of this collection was to be in the pure tradition of couture, but to modernize it with a cool attitude,” Mabille said backstage — hence the Penelope Tree eye makeup and center-parted, slicked down hair. “You can have a big ballgown, but you add pockets on the sides, and suddenly the dress becomes super-cool. I like to subvert tradition with this kind of detail, and loosen up how these outfits are worn. You don’t necessarily need to pair them with an updo and big earrings,” he added.
The prize for effortless allure went to a corolla radzimir dress in a dégradé of white, cream and latte, set off with a white bow placed on one shoulder. In a more traditional vein, a high-waisted white crepe skirt provided a pristine canvas for exquisite three-dimensional baby blue and yellow floral embroidery.