After his show, Joseph Altuzarra fessed up to being anxious all week. For Fall, he took a chance and stripped away the embroideries and embellishments, the fantastical narratives of his last two collections. Those extras can become a safety net for designers. Nerves or not, Altuzarra doesn't need one. Here he took his signals from the street, and the exercise in restraint helped him find his raw essence. He's designing the fiercest, sexiest clothes in New York, and that's reason enough for many women to seek him out.
"It forced me to be much more demanding about tailoring, cut, and fit," Altuzarra said of his new ethos. Demanding is a good word for coat-dresses with tiny waists and padded-out hips, and super-constructed double-breasted power suits with shiny gunmetal buttons topped by cropped vinyl boleros. Vinyl was the surprise. He used it for shrunken motorcycle jackets worn solo or over the top of khaki trenches. Unlike leather, it's rainproof, and so, says Joseph, it ages better. He also engineered it into hourglass dresses and tops with fur shoulders and sleeves. Leather, which has more stretch, proved the better material for other body-con dresses sliced below the hips with zippers from which were suspended sheer chiffon skirts.
Some saw Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour in the clothes, others shades of Thierry Mugler's famous motorcycle bustier. More than anybody this collection looked like Carine Roitfeld, the former editor in chief of Paris Vogue who is Altuzarra's biggest muse. She'll surely fall for the furs—extravagant black and white fox chubbies, a couple pairs of huge, silly mittens. Altuzarra reports that he has the best sell-throughs with the most expensive pieces. Those will be doozies. For the girls in the audience still climbing the ladder, he also cuts one mean pair of pants.