Joseph Altuzarra believes in the power of dressing up. Last season, he mused on falling in love, and the result was a collection that worked the sweeter end of his polished aesthetic.
For fall, that love affair has shifted into something more kinetic, inspired in part by a deep dive into the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe, and on the other hand, glamour pictures of the Seventies and Eighties. “I was really interested in the language of bikers and leather fetish, and on the flip side, the idea of sophistication of dressing up,” Altuzarra said backstage before his show. “The juxtaposition between those two things created the central tension of the collection.”
That tension worked in a lineup that played beautifully into the emergent bourgeois mood wafting through Paris. Altuzarra displayed increased design oomph while working his masculine-feminine conflict smartly, invoking the fetish elements with enough bravado to register, yet the deftness to appeal to the full range of his client base. The dominant message: gutsy outerwear over feminine pieces that eschewed coyness in favor of adult seduction. Biker and bomber jackets anchored many of the looks, over fluid dresses and skirts, jacquard floral shorts, and leather harem pants. Along the way, Altuzarra pushed himself creatively in his use of dissimilar materials, seamlessly combining, for example, Fair Isle sweater knit, zebra-print wool and pajama paisley in one look. He also used highly developed fabrics — needle-punched knit into Lurex; and, for a coat, a brocade that faded into classic checks.
The tailoring was characteristically strong, while most of the dresses and skirts had a sensual fluidity. That said, Altuzarra worked a leaner line to interesting advantage in sweaters over short skirts and the pair of degrade-embroidered dresses that, speaking of Eighties iconography, nodded to that decade’s master of the sultry cocktail number, Emanuel Ungaro. The dresses closed the show, putting an apt punctuation on the new tougher glamour Altuzarra champions.
Asked if he felt the dressed-down street trend is finally abating, Altuzarra sighed, “My God, I hope so.”