Volume is relative. A teacup skirt from a designer who specializes in body-con dresses might seem as radical as a flared pant where stovepipes are the norm. Nana Aganovich and Brooke Taylor have expended much effort proposing complicated, sweeping shapes, from multi-planed skirts to redingotes with tiers of bonus draping. Using this as a baseline, their latest collection qualified as compact—even if, by any other standard, it remained unapologetically theatrical.

Defined waists offered a striking point of departure, but they came with a twist: The cinchers were soft rather than constricting. Aganovich said she and Taylor liked the challenge of using organic fabrics counterintuitively. Conversely, they manipulated decadent silks from Rubelli, the historic textile house in Venice, into larger forms, and accented them with floral brocades, sourced from the last Huguenot silk house in the U.K. To the designers’ credit, heritage continues to be as fundamental as fit.

There were other signs of reassessment. Because slim pants outnumbered skirts—which, in the past, bore the brunt of the load—the overall impression here was lighter and tighter. “A little volume now can have as much effect as before,” noted Aganovich, pointing to a provocative flounce on the back of a coat in place of something more exaggerated. The expanded color scheme—the sunset hues and vibrant checks—gave a dandified lift to the looks, distancing them from previous seasons, where the dark drama often bordered on melancholy. In keeping with the tradition of naming their collections, the designers christened this one Fool, which could be interpreted in the historic sense of a jester or as the art of trickery. And indeed, Aganovich and Taylor often think like magicians, balancing performance (all those peaked cuffs and collars) with illusion (interior structures and closures). But enough with the parsing: This was their most wearable offering yet.

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