In his second season as the designer for Bill Blass, Michael Vollbracht showed that he’s resolutelysome might say obstinatelydevoted to the house’s heritage as a refuge of elegant sportswear. Emphasis on heritage: Vollbracht’s fall collection was almost a time capsule of Blass circa 1980, shown in a theatrical, dragged-out runway presentation that once again included some of Blass’ former house models, and clocked in at almost 80 looks.
Vollbracht has said from the start that he’s interested in dressing chic older women, the ones he feels fashion is neglecting. Nonetheless, modern business means appealing to a younger clientele and also catering to Hollywood’s insatiable appetite for glamorous gowns. At times, Vollbracht scored: A light butter-yellow wool crepe suit, or a rust corduroy jacket over a swingy kilt, had timeless cross-generational appeal. Other times, he missed: Too many of the double-faced wool and cashmere fabrics were tailored into long, boxy jackets that harked back to the old power-dressing days. Eveningwear was also a divided affair. A simple black chiffon halter dress with gold spangles creeping up from the hem was as pretty as could be, but a loose silk kimono jacket printed with a giant tiger (designed by Vollbracht, a gifted illustrator) needed to be tamed.
Vollbracht worked with Blass himself, so his firsthand knowledge of the great designer’s aesthetic can’t be questioned. But if he really wants to do justice to a great legacy, a little less reverence might help.