February 11, 2014 3:42 am

New York Fashion Week: Runway report 5

Monday marked the midway point in this season’s NYFW calendar. A fitting showcase then, for two of the city’s better-known contemporary designers whose latest collections suggested both are in a state of transition.

Olivier Theyskens had set aside the self-conscious experimentalism that had derailed him last season with a very deliberate return to the chic and practical aesthetic core of the Theory brand. The decision to remove his last name as a prefix mirrored the stripped back minimalism of his designs – the simplicity of which proved to be the perfect foil for the technical dexterity of his pieces.

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The standout outerwear took a tailored, womanly silhouette with a focus on the waist: think a belted jacket that was draped on one side, rippling as the model walked to reveal snatches of silken lining; buttoned and elongated velveteen coats with a tapered cigarette pant; and some terrific embroidered oversized evening jackets – leather bejewelled with flowers, that felt like a brush with urban street couture.

Overall it was neat, considered and eminently wearable – the same of which could not be said for Philip Lim. The show was creatively erratic at best and confusingly haphazard at worst, inspired by the fictional “Soleil – a fun and culturally curious woman”.

Whoever she is, Soleil was a bit of a hot mess. Texture blocking dominated, either in the form of leather and laser shearling “transit” vests and lilac crepe midi skirts, or graphic printed round-necked retro sweaters under a synthetic cerulean blue pinafore. Far more appealing were the simpler pieces – few and far between – that held the distinguishing hallmarks of insouciant cool that had once made Lim, well, Lim. A standout look of a denim-style leather jacket with fluffed up, furry collar and tapered wide leg trouser had the front row swooning. While exploration should be applauded, as should efforts to broaden and build a brand, in this instance Mr Lim had failed to find his way.

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