For spring, the first thing Arthur Arbesser set out to do was soften things up — after fall’s more aggressive lineup, it seemed fitting to change gears. “First of all, I thought spring needed to be a little bit more feminine so I started already with a more womanly idea in my mind,” he explained backstage after his show. Hence the reference to the Romanov girls, but the art connoisseur that he is, he referred to Austrian painter Heinz Stangl’s work, which his parents have at his childhood home. “I grew up surrounded by his paintings, he was a good family friend…so I referred to his colorways, his mad graphics, there is a certain eroticism in his paintings,” Arbesser explained. On the runway, this was balanced by the conservative rigor of the Russian czar’s daughters. For example, a graphic Expressionist-printed top paired with an optical mid-length skirt sounds overwhelming yet the classic, ladylike silhouette canceled out the visual overload.

Elsewhere, the same print was shown quite successfully in a subdued neutral palette as a volume sleeved dress or silk shirt. At times, he did amp up the color offerings via fresher shapes such as an acid yellow and white drawstring paper miniskirt paired nonchalantly with button-up shirts.

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