Although David Koma's current obsession with vinyl records was his reference point for Fall, the question is: How did he make something as dated as an old LP look so futuristic? A jacket would have been just a good jacket if it weren't for the structured shawl collar engineered from bonded jersey and leather that mimicked the grooves of a record album. Laser-cut leather panels on an organza dress looked like fragmented vinyl (imagine a futuristic Joan Jett smashing records in a fit of rock rage, then picking the pieces off the floor and gluing them to her dress—artfully, of course). A sculptured organza skirt took on the form of a French horn, yet another musical inspiration for the designer.
Not that Koma—a most deserving recipient of the 2013 Fashion Forward award—wants to get bogged down by references. "I was simply experimenting with being happy," he said. "Last season it was tennis; before that, ballerinas. This time, I wanted to do something that made me joyful—and nothing does that more than music."
If being happy was an experiment for Koma, so were the pieces, techniques, and even colors—a well-thought-out move to prevent him from being typecast as the body-con man. He's added outerwear and focused on new ways of quilting, stitching, and mixing textures: One standout result was a "lagoon blue" wool crepe dress layered with silvery blue leather pieces. Koma's clothes are still relatively light on prints, and the closest thing to one here was on a velvet dévoré sheer/solid blouse, where he used a flocking technique to make the fabric look like an Art Deco print. Even color was an experiment, though with varied results: A ketchup red grouping ("My first time with solid red," Koma admitted shyly) provided a welcome shot of color, while a few beige pieces, though structural and geometrically Mugler-esque, proved the only flat note on the runway.
The good news is that this experimentation didn't come off as end of term project-y. There is a deft hand behind all of it. A boxy coat and those fit-and-flare dresses were so precisely cut they were nearly mathematical. Oddly, the collection looked quite soft, coming from a man associated with dressing such fierce women as Beyoncé, J. Lo, and Gaga. Was it surprising to learn his latest devotee is sugary sweet Taylor Swift? Not really. If anything, this collection had us wondering who will be the next Girl in a Koma.