Last December, Nicole Kidman wore a Clements Ribeiro Spring 2011 dress to the New York premiere of Rabbit Hole, and just over a week ago, young Harry Potter actress Bonnie Wright did the same at the BAFTAs. These red-carpet moments, said Suzanne Clements and Inacio Ribeiro yesterday in a preview, are the fruits of showing on the runway, which they very reluctantly did for the first time after a long absence last season. "When we stopped, the idea of going back was really overwhelming," said Clements. "We thought once we fall into that hole, we'll never get back out again." Added Ribeiro: "Another thing is that the Internet is a major factor. For better or for worse, we're here."
Mostly better, really. Their second appearance on the schedule enjoyed a less tentative attendance than Spring. And the collection, which they named Romance Darkly, evolved and enriched the very chic, long, midi-hem silhouette (this time lengthened further by stacked wooden platforms from Charlotte Olympia) that they began to explore last season. "We don't want to mess too much with cuts," said Ribeiro. "We are fabric and texture people."
They thrill over a pattern in which a seventeenth-century damask dissolves into an ocelot photo print, and they delight in the blink-and-miss-it ombré effect of sequins on cashmere twinsets that darken subtly from bottom to top. That haze and gradation imparted the clothes with a kind of magical quality. The magic turned dark at the end as prints gave way to all-black lacquered lace, brocade, and jacquard, as well as Victorian jet beading with Moorish motifs. Remove the distraction of those less-than-exquisite lace tights—a styling, not designing, slipup—and it all made you hope that this talented prodigal duo really is here to stay.