Much as Eve was fashioned out of Adam’s rib, so Public School designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne are extruding a convincing womenswear label out of their more-established menswear line. The process is still ongoing: Though Chow and Osborne have both said that they want their men’s and women’s clothes to remain interrelated, they allowed today that their aim is to give the womenswear more of an independent identity. Thus there was a more feminine accent on the looks in the new Public School collection, witnessed particularly in the playfulness with print and pattern. The designers’ broken stripes and madcap, magnified herringbones and argyles were eye-catching, with a coat and funnel-neck cape jacket in the herringbone making an especially positive impact. The emphasis on short T-shirt dresses and abbreviated A-line skirts gave the collection a bit of its girly tone, as well. A little bit of a girly tone: The overarching vibe remained ardently tomboyish, as Chow and Osborne pursued an “urban explorer” theme influenced by their own memories of scooting around the city in techy gear in the early ’90s. Some of the clothes came off stiff, but soccer shorts in diamond-embroidered leather and dark, tailored denim looks got at the theme nicely; ditto the black tank dress with tonal graphics, which had an easygoing sexiness that Chow and Osborne should muster with more regularity. If you broke up the collection and got a direct look at the duo’s fine cropped collared shirts and other layering pieces, you also found sundry items that women would happily work into a wardrobe full of softer, expressively feminine clothes. Hard-edged masculinity is second nature to Public School, but Chow and Osborne are still working on cracking the XX code. They’re getting there, though.

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