Libertine’s invitation bore an image of the witty and famously acerbic socialite Pat Buckley, looking somewhat possessed in her drollness, next to a dog with the same expression and wearing a wig. This is the sort of hilariously poignant free association that made for a rollicking, campy, punk-tinged Spring collection. “I was so obsessed with Pat in the ’80s that I made scrapbooks of her!” gushed L.A.-based designer Johnson Hartig, who would have been in his teens at the time. “I used that picture because I thought she looked the most drunk.”
Buckley wasn’t the only far-reaching reference. “I had thousands of inspirations,” said Hartig, exaggerating only slightly. “Like, I saw these ravers at a music festival with a bunch of bead necklaces. I immediately decided I had to have that, too.” So he did, as well as hippie-girl patchwork, randomly placed decals, comic-book prints, decorated Wayfarers, and little clutches doused in silver glitter. Meanwhile, the Libertine MO—mixing newly produced items with reworked, BeDazzled vintage pieces—remains the same.
The show started with delicate chiffons and vibrant furs that soon gave way to explosive allover embellishments, crazy candy colors, and what looked like album-art collage prints. At times, however, the playful spirit upstaged the clothes. Funny though they were, boxer shorts on male models that had seemingly been stuffed for comic relief were little more than a distraction, as were several looks covered in fuzz balls. But peel away some of the wackier accoutrements that will surely find a loving home in music videos (fingernails dangling with bits of yarn, for instance) and one could find all kinds of plausible items for the non-eccentrics among us. An emerald green fully sequined track suit is plausible, right?
Following the last exit, all the models bounded out for the finale. They jumped, skipped, and cavorted, taking pictures of and selfies with the audience, before a publicist could be heard shouting, “OK, Johnson wants all his friends backstage right now!” Gonna be a party.