OK, let’s just get it out of the way. Yes, Rihanna made an appearance at Adam Selman’s Spring ’15 show. Yes, she arrived after it ended. And yes, she was wearing a flirty white baby-doll dress from the new collection.
For anyone who managed to miss the sartorial shocker of the year, Adam Selman was the man behind Rihanna’s sheer crystal-covered CFDA gown. Whatever opinions you may have about Bad Gal’s nearly nude turn on the red carpet, that dress got Selman’s name into practically every paper, news broadcast, and household in the country. That’s an achievement for any fledgling talent. However, Selman is more than a pop star’s sensationalist one-trick pony, a fact he proved when he unveiled his sporty Spring range at the West Village’s Algus Greenspon Gallery. That happens to be the same location in which Selman held his inaugural presentation just one year ago—but this was not a presentation. It was Selman’s first full-fledged runway show, though he was hesitant to recognize it as a milestone. “I just want it to have the same energy and personal feel of my first two,” he said. “It’s not formal.”
Selman has a soft spot for nostalgia, and for Spring, he expressed it in more ways than one. The high-gloss ’80s kitsch of Japanese airbrush artist Harumi Yamaguchi served as the starting point for the 24-look lineup, Selman’s largest to date. “I also studied what my friends are wearing, so Spring is kind of this New York City girl with a dirty face of makeup meets Harumi Yamaguchi in a cool Jane Birkin way,” said the designer.
What on earth does that mean, you ask? Youthful, slightly suggestive ready-to-wear mixed with Selman-ized summer classics. Models carrying number cards (like in the old days, when designers held salon presentations) walked out in airy pleated trousers paired with teeny bra tops (and, on one occasion, a spilled nail polish logo tee), denim tweed athletic shorts or miniskirts, and grown-up iterations of overalls. The latter are sure to be a hit among the downtown set—the best version was done in white linen and shown with a billowing pajama shirt. The ensemble fell somewhere between streetwise and angelic.
Despite the ongoing sneaker overload, Selman’s choice to pair everything from floor-length gowns and ruffled minidresses to bathing suits with them still felt fresh. Visors wrapped with bow-front scarves were sweet, but not saccharine, and sleek cat-eye sunglasses, a collaboration with Le Specs, brought onlookers further into Selman’s retro, Pop-colored world.
The designer seemed most excited about Spring’s copious pearl embellishments, an idea he got after watching the 1986 made-for-TV flick Beverly Hills Madam. “The only thing I took away from that movie was pearls. Lots and lots of pearls,” he laughed. They appeared scattered on a sweatshirt; nestled between cutouts on waists, sleeves, and hemlines; and hanging from crop tops and separates. The danglers had a chintzy-meets-flamenco effect, but on the whole, the decorations were employed wisely. Selman also covered an entire mesh tennis dress with pearls. The resulting mini was very similar to (albeit much more opaque than) RiRi’s CFDA look. “I think people were expecting that from me, and I wasn’t going to give it literally. But I needed to give a little bit,” Selman said. Including a wearable version of that infamous dress was a terribly smart move. Also smart? The fact that Selman kept ’em wanting more.