“I don’t do years,” Carolina Herrera said before her show, explaining that she doesn’t like looking to the past for inspiration these days. “I’m trying to go to the future.” The designer, who turned 76 last month, becomes less conventional as time accumulates. She had fun last season with flowers, which she treated in artful, unexpected ways, and so she’s sticking with the natural world for Fall. Her idea was to explore water, and her approach was both literal and abstract.

As a rule, the more loosely she treated the theme, the more successful she was. By day that meant a Prince of Wales dress with a wave of needle-punched mohair drifting across its front was a more convincing option than a cashmere jacket featuring embroidered swans. Strip away the swoosh of red acrylic embroidery on a softly constructed coat and what would’ve remained was a divinely soft mohair fabric in a subtle houndstooth and chevron pattern. By night, the ripple-print silk organzas and jacquards Herrera used on cocktail dresses and gowns erred similarly on the emphatic side. A long, wool felt dress in ivory with curving seams tracing across the chest was subtler and more elegant for it. And the same held true for a strapless gown in icy blue silk gazar with undulating flounces below the knee. The most forward-leaning look, an ivory techno jersey top accompanied by a long blue bias-cut skirt with a single ruffle rippling down the side, wasn’t really about embellishments at all. The modernity was in the efficiency and glamour of its cut.

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