After the first look out, one might have encountered a niggling suspicion: Was this the Milly show? But the gift bags under the seats confirmed it; we were in the right place to see Michelle Smith’s playful and deeply wearable contemporary line. And yet, her show kicked off with an ensemble that felt pretty enigmatic, particularly in light of Fall’s ballerina-inspired fare: a mesh bomber with dolman sleeves and matching skirt, topped off with an asymmetrically knotted (and faintly Demeulemeester-esque) head scarf—all noir.
It was a choice that made more sense upon learning about Smith’s fodder for the collection—conceptual art, specifically that of John Baldessari and Dan Graham (whose site-specific work, presently gracing the Met rooftop, inspired the show’s mirror-heavy set). A few looks in and Smith’s vision of the artists looked more typically digestible and sporty. Her evident love of fabrication yielded some good things, from a double-face organza that sandwiched delicate threads of raffia, to a custom jacquard in a mod dolly-girl print, to another geometric number held together with whisper-thin clear filaments. Shapes leaned mostly toward the modish, with plenty of sports-bra tops and track-pant-like trousers. But the collection wasn’t without its surprises. The pairing of an A-line skirt in the aforementioned organza with a sweater in a delightfully oversize knit felt right on the money—pretty damned charming, in fact.