Arbesser looked backward — and forward — for this charming collection that was brimming with all of the easy shapes and bright, clashing patterns for which he’s known.
Austrian-born and based in Milan, the designer looked to another part of his heritage, his grandmother’s birthplace. Known in German as Siebenbuergen, in English as Transylvania, the mountainous, castle-filled region is now part of Romania and is renowned as the home of Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula.
There was nothing sinister — or remotely gothic — about this collection, which Arbesser dedicated to his grandmother, and her “romantic memories, love of beautiful things and wicked sense of humor.”
The postcard-size liner notes came with a picture of Grandma as a young woman, dressed in a fur coat and sticking her tongue out. Next to it, Arbesser put two small images of bright, patterned Transylvanian ceramics, an inspiration for much of the collection.
There was a childlike joy and energy — and an old-world feel — to the men’s and women’s clothes alike, with a diagonal, homespun patchwork running across a shirt and trouser combo and a chic midi dress. Their muted grays and blues contrasted with the bright blue and white flowers and vines that wound their way across shorts, tops, dresses and round floppy hats.
Arbesser spliced busy flower and geometric prints and polka dots into breezy silk skirts, and worked a shadowy argyle pattern into a long, sheer dress, like a nightgown with little pouf sleeves.
Sailor tops and snug knits slipped over dresses and skirts added to the collection’s rich, retro feel.