Wim Wenders’ “Wings of Desire” and Eighties East Berlin were perfect creative foils for Arthur Arbesser’s quirky aesthetic and love of brash graphics, which falls somewhere between street and refined. Showing the collection in a raw, industrial 19th-century former Milanese bakery that was freezing — no heat, thick concrete walls — further put the lineup in its element.
Arbesser has steadily been sharpening his ideas, developing a distinct point of view and a core, including sailor tops and nods to uniform dress, present here. Fall was another solid step forward. He used Wenders’ character Marion, a trapeze artist, to get into a circus theme, which could be tricky territory for someone who likes graphics and colors so much. But Arbesser handled it well, working knits in checks and diagonal lines. “I love my graphics, very in-your-face sort of hard graphics, but then I made them softer through coloring,” he said backstage. A bronzed foiled shirt over a teal and brown checked skirt was a good example.
Some of the best pieces were intarsia dresses, such as body-skimming turtlenecks in red, white, black and light blue stripes. A pink plastic-y shirt over a ruffled black and white striped skirt was eccentrically feminine, and the finale look, a black pin-striped jumpsuit trimmed with crystals with double-breasted buttons down the front managed to nod to clowns and classic uniforms, while looking very grown up. Lest things take on too much of a traditional lacquer, there were the shoes: a collaboration with Vibram, a purveyor of performance rubber soles, that resulted in platforms with uppers that looked like gloves for your feet.