Chris Benz's Fall collection began to take shape on a trip to Paris with friend Elettra Rossellini Wiedemann, where the two sat in cafés, becoming enamored with the style of French womenolder French women, that is. "I love the idea of a funny old woman pulling wrinkled clothes from 50 years ago out of a suitcase," said Benz. "I always like that weird girl." She was certainly on displaysporting fur fezzes and zigzag Shetland knits, no lessat his presentation held in the literary environs of the Lotos Club, where the designer once again showed color-coordinated tableaux vivants.
Benz pronounced this collection both more tomboyish and more polished than previous outings. It was both those thingsand stronger for them. Since he launched, the designer has learned to limit his quirkiness to smaller doses, while keeping his fearless and enviable sense of color intact. It's a treat to see Benz's vision in full blooma world where such precocious ensembles as a red, white, and blue checked suit over a pale lavender shirt and magenta oxfords seem logical. But this collection also had simple, strong pieces that could be pulled out to stand on their own, like a plain silk tapered T-shirt dress, and Benz's chic take on the comfort of a sweatshirt in a terrific and easy boxy, layered silk blouse.
Looks like these suggest that Benz is aware of and adjusting to a particular challenge he faces: He has created his own particular image, but while he's built up a healthy business thus far, marketing quirkiness isn't easy. Time will tell if the young designer can make his world one that everyone wants to be part of.