Alexandre Herchcovitch fans who turned up at the designer's show today expecting more of his trademark jubilant prints were in for a surprise. The Fall clothes he sent down the runway were uncharacteristically subdued, not to mention 100 percent print-free. A shock of neon yellow ran through the collection, but aside from that the palette was a fugue of grays, blacks, and browns. The focus was on dimension and texture.
What gives? As Herchcovitch explained after the show, his inspiration was earthy, as in geologic. His exploration of volcanoes, and the screen of ash and rivers of magma they spread over nearby land, occasioned the collection's use of palimpsest layering and breakaway texture, as in the astrakhan coats, with their revealed bolts of yellow, or the many pieces that featured jutting lace ruffles. There was a lot of lace here, which gave the clothes a romantic quality; Herchcovitch copped to the mood, but his clothes' modern Miss Havisham vibe seems to have been a happy accident. There was a sense of time having worked on the garments, scrubbing away parts of fabric and leaving a residue of lace or a rough edge. A series of hooded black wool dresses and coats heightened the gothic feel.
Herchcovitch opened with a couple of winning pieces that were so sedate and elegant, it was tempting to wonder if you'd sat down at the wrong show: These were dun-gray shawl-collared cardigans woven through with pearls. But just when you were starting to think Herchcovitch had completed a rehab program for weirdness, along came a series of monastic coats, with buckles that straitjacketed the models' arms to their sides. Not practical items, these, but it was good to see that Herchcovitch's mind continues to work in odd ways, even when he's limiting himself to basic black.