Now in her fourth season of designing ready-to-wear, Devi Kroell graduated today to a full runway show. Though the designer displayed an immediately confident voice when launching her accessories business six years ago, the process of branching out into clothing hasn't been quite as effortless. Backstage, she explained that last Spring's collection, which was very different from today's opulent, evening-focused look, was the result of letting too many cooks into the proverbial kitchen. "I listened to too many people," said Kroell. Starting with her pre-fall line, the designer explained, she sharpened her focus to a raison d'être about which she feels strongly: translating the minimal shapes and rich materials of her bags and shoes into dresses and coats.
Fall had plenty of those luxurious materials, in moody jewel tones or flash-bright metallics. The show opened with a royal purple astrakhan tuxedo coat with a leather collar, topped with a fox fur trapper's hat. There were more pelts to come, like two terrific dyed fox coats, which were some of the strongest pieces in the show. (In fact, Kroell's furs, which debuted long before the ready-to-wear, have always seemed like a perfect natural extension of her business.) Whether you'd call these silhouettes minimal depends on your taste for tricks. There were blouson backs and face-framing collars, but nothing so outlandish as to ring the alarm.
Though not perfect, it was a collection with some fine clothes. Enough to justify expanding into very high-end ready-to-wear while the economy still falters? That remains to be seen. But with the cash injection of the Bartel family (which also owns a stake in Lanvin), Kroell may yet have the luxury of time and resources to make her case.