Stacey Bendet traveled to Rome with her friend, the artist Lola Schnabel, and found herself captivated by the Bomarzo gardens there — oft referred to as Park of the Monsters, or “Parco dei Mostri” — full of frightening sculptures created in the 16th century. “I thought, ‘This place is so magical, I have to turn it into a show,'” Bendet said. During the trip, Schnabel was working on an art project involving tarot cards, and all of it inspired Bendet to craft an elaborate story for her spring Alice + Olivia collection: Two little girls stumble upon a pile of tarot cards in a vintage book store, and each card takes them to a different area of Bomarzo. She re-created the vignettes in a garden presentation at Skylight Clarkson Square.
Bendet interpreted her romantic Roman theme in a few ways, referencing both strong, sexy Italian women and feminine, ethereal Botticelli angels. As to be expected from the label, the collection was rich with detail and feminine frills: lush beading; textured, floral-embroidered lace; ribbon trim; graphic flower prints and tiered ruffles galore. A skirt covered in butterfly appliqués invoked the mystical theme, as did a few looks featuring printed birds illustrated by artist Elizabeth Graeber. For the girls who might shy away from the collection’s romantic maximalism, Bendet offered a few flirty monochromatic dresses and easy, mix-and-match suiting.