It's been a year of change for Robert Geller, and he approached the new season as an older, wiser man. (It's tempting to peg that change on his new baby daughter, but it doesn't necessarily take a stroller to grow up.) He resolved to age his offerings, too—a tantalizing prospect. Geller looked to the films of Visconti—those from his German trilogy, Death in Venice and The Damned in particular—for inspiration. They gave him what he called the collection's Italian flavor, as well as its guiding spirit: the great English actor Dirk Bogarde. Food for thought: In years past, it would have been Bogarde's sultry, venomous Damned co-star Helmut Berger, with all his Berliner slipperiness, who caught Geller's eye. No more. Bogarde is a grown-up. And never more so than in Death in Venice, as the aging composer von Aschenbach, obsessed with babyish Tadzio and his uncatchable youth.
So, at least, the story goes. You had to squint a bit to read it on the runway. Geller pulled back on some of the sportier pieces and wider shapes he showed for Spring and re-emphasized the louche, texturized, tailored pieces on which he built his brand. The gem tones he'd used became a dustier, more muted palette. But there was much here that didn't push forward far enough, and some of the lush fabrications felt off. There are, as always, plenty of strong, interesting pieces, and ones that will no doubt engage Geller men once they hit the sales floor. But for a season premised on growing up, this was a collection that still felt young. The quasi-fetal casting didn't help. In a parade of Tadzios, you searched for an Aschenbach. And every few looks, a glimmer would appear: a sand-colored wool overcoat, effortlessly mature, ultimately elegant. The future lies that way.