For A/W15, Joseph Altuzarra imagined a rendezvous between 18th-century dandies and Truman Capote’s Swans, those elegant, swellegant society darlings and industrial heiresses — among them Lee Radziwill, Babe Paley, Slim Keith and Gloria Guinness — for whom the writer would be champion, confessor and, often, critic.
For Altuzarra, the Paris-born American designer who picked up the CFDA award for womenswear designer of the year last June, the marriage of uptown élan and downtown flâneur should have been the perfect union. His former collections have always echoed the svelte, polished sensuality of the Swan girls, albeit with extra eroticism, but there were elements here that didn’t always sit quite right: the vast fur collars and coats were a little overwhelming; the arctic pink and blue and camel tones a little lacking in depth; and the knee-high, lace-up stiletto boots that skittered at around the 120mm mark, in black and white leather with a lacy detail frill, were simply unsophisticated.
The dandy elements fared far better than the Swans (with the exception of the boots). There were strong frock coats that fell to mid thigh with fluted hems; saucy pencil skirts slashed high on the thigh; long, lean trousers, and a clutch of lovely lace blouses with piecrust collars that grazed the chin.
Altuzarra also introduced a new leather ware line: a collection of bags, the “Notch”, in blue, caramel and black, and adorned with thick braided shoulder straps, studs, long fringes and bold, gold hardware inspired by “heirloom lighters”.
But it was the final looks that were the strongest — most satisfying part of the collection: velvets in claret red and black, and shot with gold that shimmered and shone to the shin. Then, a similar treatment in sequins; four gorgeous evening dresses with a plunging V fronts, and each inset with a sheer lace placket. It was here the dandy Swan worked best, with a conviction that was sometimes lacking elsewhere.
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