The models tread slowly and silently through the grand hotel ballroom. One clutched a colorful blanket around her face, her hands sheathed in colorful leather opera gloves. Rhinestones glinted from the buckles on the toes of her pumps.
Roksanda Ilinčić summoned the genteel mood of midcentury couture shows — and she has the chops and range to do so. Her graceful fall collection exalted flowing silks, grand volumes in taffeta, tailoring finesse and a flair for unusual colors and striking combinations.
A draped red evening column was printed trompe-l’œil style on a flowing caftan of electric blue silk. Bitter orange and fuchsia mingled in a roomy, languid gown of gleaming silk, the two lengths wound around the body and suspended from one shoulder by a small gold bar.
British poet Arch Hades sat in the audience and recited her latest work, titled “Arcadia,” heightening the intimacy of the display, and its sense of time warping.
Backstage, the designer also name-checked late Japanese artist Atsuko Tanaka as a reference. Like Gabriela Hearst has done at Chloé and Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior, Ilinčić shined a light on an underappreciated woman who sounded pretty badass.
Ilinčić explained that Tanaka was part of the post-war artistic movement Gutai and “her work was so magnificent and groundbreaking” that she was ultimately shunned by the founder of the movement for fear of being overshadowed.
The designer interpreted Tanaka’s famous Electric Dress, made from colorful tubes of light, into foam rings that orbited her models like Saturn’s rings, creating unique, jutting volumes.
The workmanship on display impressed, particularly the enveloping black coats needle-punched with red threads that resembled rivers of hot lava.
The sculpted foam dresses were wondrous in a theatrical, Lady Gaga way.
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