For a former knitwear designerhe was a creative director at TSERichard Chai certainly loves tailoring. Yes, there were delicate, fine-gauge pullovers and cardigans, but his sophomore solo effort was mostly an experiment in extreme seaming. Riffing on the intricately paneled bustiers and kimono tops of his debut, he added origami silk insets to the sides of a worsted wool dress, cinched paper-bag-waist trousers, and pegged skirts with overblown ivory bows, and added belts, necklaces, and headbands strung together from geometric pieces of quilted satin.
The effect, Chai explained backstage, was "a fusion of the romantic and the futuristic." Put another way, the designer worked feminine fabrics like silk against masculine materials such as striped suitings. He also replaced spring's ethereal, fuller shapes with more-structured ones, as in moleskin coats that were flared at the hem. There were some awkward moments: A boiled-wool skirt hung lifelessly from the waist (the dense fabric is better suited to jackets), and a red velvet top shied away stiffly from a model's shoulders. But saturated hues like bottle green and ultramarine were a welcome addition to this talented young designer's repertoire, as were his "I'll take them in every color" leg-elongating tapered trousers.