The VPL collection shown today represented a strong return to first principles for designer Victoria Bartlett. With the Michael Clark dance Mmm as her jumping-off point, Bartlett was moved to reconsider the movement of the body, and the way material twists, turns, and releases against it. In practice, this meant that a lot of garments wrapped around the bodice and fell away at soft angles. The collection was heavy on dancers' stretch materials, notably a dense délavé in a rocky gray, and slick draped jerseys.
The other idea Bartlett took away from Mmm was its play of light and shadow, a theme she worked through in a variety of back-to-front color-blocked pieces, such as a longish dress draped with shiny plum-colored jersey in front, and matte cream-colored jersey in back. The light/shadow meme also meant that Bartlett adhered, even more than usual, to her palette of neutrals—alongside her traditional skin tones (looking very fresh, at present), she showed a lot of white, silver, gray, and black. Less traditional for VPL, there were a lot of dagger-hem leather jackets and mannish coats on the runway; the leather, it turned out, was faux. But it was totally convincing.
The real winners in the collection, however, were this season's knits, in particular Bartlett's shrugged-on, oversize sweaters in mottled bouclé and marled wool, and the dense black sweater, fitted to the body, with knit-in braid and armored shoulders. The knit emphasis was reaffirmed in the show's finale, which included a plethora of elaborate garments that should see a lot of editorial action come fall.