Maiyet thinks different. The brand is known for its efforts to switch up the fashion supply chain, working with traditional handcrafters and textile-makers from around the world. That’s the back end of the business, you might say, except that at Maiyet, its means of production are front and center in both the clothes and the messaging. This season, Kristy Caylor decided to try an unconventional approach on the front end, too, eschewing a fashion show in favor of a salon presentation accompanied by an installation of five short films directed and choreographed by Benjamin Millepied. The films were sort of Isaac Julien-lite, which wasn’t a bad thing, and the slo-mo cameras riveted on the featured dancers’ lyrical yet forceful bodies. As Caylor explained, that lyricism, and that force, was the driving inspiration behind the new Maiyet collection.
So this was a collection about movement. The theme was witnessed in the fluid tailoring, and in a lot of seemingly hasty, scarf-style draping. Caylor should have invested more in those ideas; frankly, the silhouettes were a bit of a muddle this season. Nothing popped. The materials and embellishments were another story, though, with rich, graphic Indonesian batiks, Peruvian hand-knits and lace, and lovely thread and bead embroidery from villages in India. One suspects that the Maiyet customer, if she’s loyal, is coming to the brand for its artisanal qualities, either because she likes the look or because she appreciates the “It’s a Small World After All” values. Caylor’s best work finds her giving the traditional artisanship a graphic spin, as in the coat here done in black and white batik. To the extent that Maiyet has an aesthetic identity, as opposed to an ethical one, it’s to be found there.