For Greg Armas' third womenswear collection, the menswear maven admired for his utilitarian, art-directorial aesthetic decided to get a little looser. "We had a certain austerity that I wanted to kick out," he said backstage before his Assembly presentation, something he accomplished in an exploration of the shifting lines between "work and play."
That meant starting with uniform archetypes—construction workers, soldiers, businessmen—and introducing hits of irreverence. (Keep in mind that Armas' idea of humor is subtler than anything as basic as a cheeky sweatshirt appliqué. It's a matter of mixing tuxedo stripes with construction stripes in the same outfit, or of painting zebra stripes onto a rabbit hide.) Armas muddled seasonal boundaries by incorporating off-duty tank-top shapes into a sleek business-inspired ensemble, and by manipulating film he shot at the beach last summer into an abstracted, sludgy, graphite-toned print on a graphic sweat suit.
The explanations behind these private irreverences might go undiscovered by observers, but presentation attendees could appreciate what was right in front of them: a new uniform of relaxed, insouciant separates with upscale touches. A fluid white rayon shirt made a lean, long line tucked into wide-legged navy blue trousers with an extreme high waist. Italian neoprene cut into a classic trench shape had a surprisingly beautiful drape. An indigo denim tracksuit had real dress-up potential.
Even so, the collection was most impressive on closer inspection. That slim-cut white shirt had a button back and finished shirting cuffs that extended into a second, raw-edged set, with a hidden zipper so it could all be pushed or rolled up the arm. Sure, some womenswear fits looked untested next to the more assured menswear shapes, but that'll all be refined. "I like to make things that are future favorites for people," Armas said. In this collection, he had at least a few.