You could glance through Barbara Bui’s latest collection knowing that she was inspired by “Occidental urban hip-hop mixed with India and Buddhist monks,” or you could opt against any backstory. How might your perception change? Maybe you wouldn’t figure out that the graphic embroidery on a sheer white outer layer originated from graffiti tags, or that the brilliant orange was drawn from the monastic robes. But once Bui began stirring and simmering her references, the soup revealed more than the ingredients. It told us, for instance, that the newer slouch to her pants reflects her awareness of streetwear. The hand-patched Indian mirror embroidery furthered her interest in specialized craftsmanship. And while favoring white is not new for Bui, the crinkled organza T-shirt with rolled sleeves represented a relaxed refresh.

Bui explained that the common denominator was the cultural mix, and how the simplicity of the monks offset the energy of the hip-hop. In a clingy organza and jersey dress, these worlds seemingly jelled. A multicolored rag-rug coat satisfied her desire for a fur-like texture, and backless bibs met her sexy quota. In the end, Bui did not require so much emphasis on liquid gold-effect separates to hammer home her “feeling of spirituality” and optimism. It was evident enough in the shiny, pointed Moroccan-style shoes—yes, another ingredient—​whether this was deliberate or by chance.

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