The dress of the season emerged from the backstage area about halfway through Joseph Altuzarra’s showroom presentation this morning. Sleeveless and spliced together from colorful ikat prints with contrasting pleated panels inset at the front, back, and both sides of the knee-length skirt, it combined simplicity with a special quality. Despite the torrential June rain outside, that dress was instantly what everyone wanted to be wearing—or at least wished they had in their closet for the steamy summer days ahead.
Sparking desire is something Altuzarra has seemed to have had an easier time of than most. It’s a talent that he put to use on other dresses here stitched with swags of beads strung in the style of the Kuna tribe in Panama. Each string boasted a different order of beads, but when they were arrayed next to each other, they created a graphic, vivid pattern. A black-and-white woven leather coat with color-blocked, chevron suede pockets required an equally astounding amount of handwork. Altuzarra explained that it was the result of a branding project with the French art director Thomas Lenthal in which they stacked all the letters in the company logo on top of each other in a square. As gifted as he is, Altuzarra is just as on top of the business side of the equation. Beyond that branding effort, he mentioned a new emphasis on knits, designers’ go-to big return category. They’ll undoubtedly help his bottom line. Ultimately, though, where this collection really shone was with that standout dress and the one-off luxuries of the beaded pieces.