Carin Rodebjer likes to say that she designs for the “total woman.” By which she means, for all the moods and attitudes a woman can inhabit in the course of a day or, at any rate, a fashion season, running the gamut from fairy-tale romantic to heroically tough. Rodebjer’s sensitivity to the lived experiences of women helps to distinguish her brand, which is hugely successful in her native Sweden, and is gaining a firm following here in the States. This outing was emblematic in its range, encompassing dreamy pajama silks and gossamer knits, lots of fluid tailoring, and terrific, very tribal looks in graphic cotton jacquard, plus some futuristic pleated faux leather. There was also Rodebjer’s fantastic Egyptian cotton shirting, some vixenish dresses and pencil skirts, a vaguely hieroglyphic eye motif, and lots of fringe. And some ruffles. And all manner of slouchy trousers—in particular, cropped pants and culottes. Which is to say, there was a lot going on here.
Though most individual pieces had a ton of appeal—that one-shoulder ruffle top! that fringed net sweater! that graphic blanket coat!—the overall message was somewhat muddled. It wasn’t the variety that was the problem, but that the variety ran to such undefined silhouettes. A little looseness is fine; a touch of slouch, absolutely brilliant. But when really sharp shapes came down the runway, like the body-hugging, rusty-black dress adapted from a look from Fall, it felt like a tonic. A one-shoulder, pleated faux-leather frock in black had much the same effect, courtesy of the look’s sculptural simplicity. In the past, Carin Rodebjer has proven herself very capable of giving livable, lovable clothes some sharpening up. She should polish her blade.