Now in his forties, John Bartlett is on a serious comeback trail, describing the clothes at his Bryant Park presentation as "more formal, with a focus on tailoring." Another big influence for the designer this season was the in-store boutique he'll be opening in Bergdorf Goodman this fall, which might account for the safety net of what he called "grown-up preppy."
His latest show was characterized by coats and jackets, with a definite leaning toward gray flannel. But one jacket in printed corduroy looked almost like devore, and another in salt-and-pepper had a country-squire feel. Bartlett has never played fashion purely by the numbers, so the same fearless impulse that led him to dedicate the collection to Irving Penn's "corner" portraits (the ones for which he pushed his famous subjects into existential little cul-de-sacs) was also responsible for a tantalizing waywardness amid all that tailoring. The white velvet pants with the stripes of Swarovski crystals; the flare of cardinal red in a striped sweater; the ultra-long, knitted rock-star scarves (also sighted at Burberry and Dior this season); and the pale-gray pinstriped jacket with the sprinkle of crystals, just like angel's dandruff, at a pocket and the corner of a hemthese were the touches that made one relish Bartlett's renaissance.