Sophie Theallet – Pre Spring/Summer 2016 Ready-To-Wear
Lots of designers like to say they design for “real” women. Sophie Theallet is one of the few for whom that assertion is patently true: Her dresses and gowns look better, frankly, on women with curves to match the clothes’ voluptuous sensibility. At a small runway presentation of Theallet’s new collection today, you couldn’t help but wonder why she, of all designers, bothers with stick-thin models at all. When choreographer Blanca Li, whose remarkable show, Robot, opened this week at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, came out in Theallet’s final look, the collection snapped to life at last. Which isn’t to say that the clothes shown before Li’s appearance were displeasing—there’s no arguing with the appeal of, for instance, an abbreviated tiered skirt and matching trim button-down in crisp perforated cotton—but overall they lacked a certain vigor.
Theallet’s wallpaper-floral prints packed a nice graphic punch; the perforated navy cotton layered over silver lamé made for a cool effect; and the gold and white halter-neck gown in silk satin had a statuesque elegance. The skirts, dresses, and gowns were cut with the designer’s usual feminine flair. Which is to say, this lineup was well executed in all the ways you expect of Theallet—it just failed to surprise you. The sole unpredictable elements were the short hemlines, here and there, which introduced a more youthful spirit than Theallet typically brings to bear, and her waffled cotton tailoring, a category she launched only last season and which she’s still working to make her own. The thing that was so redeeming about Li’s appearance was that it rewired your perceptions about the collection: As it turned out, the unpredictability in these clothes was meant to come from the women wearing them. Not a bad approach, if you think about it.