¿I remember coming to the city with my skateboard in the eighties,¿ said Richard Chai a few days before his show. ¿There was such an artiness to the way people dressed.¿ But the grittiness of the Amy Arbus and Nan Goldin photos from back in the day pinned to his inspiration board was only half the story. Chai enjoys the push and pull of opposites, so he attempted to marry to his original motivation a sense of airy romance and refinement.
A tall order, sure. But Chai, for the most part, was up to the task. Coats and jackets were the high point. They were many and varied, a chocolate-box assortment, from an edgy-cool patent-leather blouson to a wool chesterfield. Outerwear, it seems, best absorbs Chai¿s forward-thinking fascination with circular seaming and tweaked proportion. Elsewhere, he cut strict, skinny pants in shiny menswear jacquardspotentially a tough sell, but they paired well with chic popcorn knits and belted peplum jackets. As for the ethereal element, an Easter egg¿colored jacket worn with a white tulle tutu was a bit baffling; but the simpler pearlized organza-and-silk dresses in deep jewel tones were undeniably elegant.