ROSIE ASSOULIN AW15’16 READ-TO-WEAR NEWYORK FASHION WEEK
Rosie Assoulin is a take-no-prisoners designer. Her clothes are theatrical, in the same way that the women who star in Broadway blockbusters like Wicked are theatrical: They want their expression to carry all the way to the cheap seats. There’s something very canny about Assoulin’s approach in an era where the best/easiest way to earn buzz as a young designer is by having the red-carpet contingent—or the street-style and Instagram stars for whom life is one continuously unfurling red carpet—wear your clothes. Eventually, though, you do have to sell clothes.
To extend the acting metaphor a little further, this season found Assoulin attempting to multitask, belting out a few for the folks seated up in the rafters, and then dialing her tone back down for some close-ups. Her showpiece gowns were unmissable, and a little nuts—no one who sees her will ever forget a girl in Assoulin’s halter-neck, skin-winking gown in op art black-and-white stripe, with its huge panniered skirt. A black bouclé evening skirt boasted even vaster proportions. But before you troubled yourself with practical questions like How do you fit through a door in that?, your attention turned to Assoulin’s daywear, much of which reused the materials found in the evening looks but to more realistic ends. That black-and-white stripe, for instance, made its way into a tunic-length button-down, worn with a gilet in the black bouclé and a pair of Assoulin’s terrific, easygoing low-slung cropped pants. The squishy neoprene-bonded material in those pants, meanwhile, turned up again in a cream-colored gown that was simple yet forceful, while a mannish gray wool check was parlayed both into a full skirt and peplum tank for night, and a double-breasted jacket and matching wide-leg trousers for day. Those trousers were a nice innovation, rather deadpan in the front but featuring dramatic folds in the back. They were among the pieces that proved Assoulin’s skill in applying drama with a light hand. Others included her cropped jackets with oversize collars and a cocktail frock in evergreen-toned felted wool with a nicely measured sense of volume. There were a great many appealing clothes here, in fact, and a ton of interesting ideas—almost too many. The envelope-folded looks, for instance, were so strong you had to wish that Assoulin had elaborated that theme a bit more. Ditto the flourish of velvet, used in a few sporty garments. Assoulin is one designer who’s clearly having a great deal of fun, and so it feels a bit schoolmarmish and dyspeptic to encourage her to ration out her ideas and save them for more expansive elaboration in future collections. So, what the hey: Go for it, kid. Idea away. Keep belting ’em out while you can.