Today's VPL show was a relatively stripped-down affair, from the simplified styling to the back-to-basics concept that inspired the design of the clothes. This season Victoria Bartlett was playing with stretching and folding; as she explained before the show, she wanted to dig into the fundamentals of how fabric moves. "The kind of opposed actions," she said. "Stretching is expanding—it's suspending, it's draping. Folding is all about decrease, and a hard edge."
Most of the looks in this collection found a way to counterpoise those two actions. To wit, a stretchy jersey top with a stiff contrasting fabric folded on the shoulder like a tiny wing, or a draped nylon sweatshirt with origami-style folds down its front. The collection was occasionally too literal—the last look before the lingerie finale was an oddball jersey dress with shiny hip flaps—but overall Bartlett wasn't too religious about following her theme. Several of her most winning looks, like her yummy knits or the wrap jacket and short-sleeve coat in a metallic furlike fabric, hardly seemed to bear any relation to the conceptual inspiration at all.
One of the strongest sideline ideas was Bartlett's playful reinterpretation of the suit: She showed a few iterations, including a skirt and matching jacket cut from panels of contrasting boiled wool and a neoprenelike mesh. That suit—such as it was—and a cocoon-ish coat mixing the same materials offered a good primer on how to introduce "active" elements into sophisticated clothes. Another good sideline was Bartlett's play with latex, especially in the finale, which featured lingerie that was truly weird, impractical, and great. (She also developed a nice abstract print, in tones of brown, from her play with stretched and folded latex.) All in all, it was a typically good outing for VPL, one characterized less by Bartlett's formal explorations and more by her desire to, quite simply, make distinctive, wearable clothes.