A triumph, pretty much. Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos invented a new grammar for their brand today, coming at their signature maximal-print aesthetic from various unexpected angles and introducing, with this collection, an entirely novel Pilotto tone. There was a surprising hardness here, evident in the very first look: The cropped jacket in matador red was squared off, with shoulders of an intimidating size; it was covered with bold painterly embroidery and paired with a geometric wrap skirt in red, black, and white. The next looks out elaborated the mood and established two of the show's key silhouettes; there was another all-red ensemble, confrontationally graphic and boasting stiff, exaggerated shoulders, and then a boxy embroidered coat with shoulders even more imposing. This season's Pilotto woman was none too fussed about looking pretty, in other words, although the fluttery short dresses that appeared later in the show delivered froth in a very measured dose.
So the first half of this show really packed a punch. But then, about midway through, Pilotto and De Vos reverted back to form. There were new shapes of printed puffer jackets, and pencil dresses in kaleidoscopic patterns, and iterations of the now-familiar Pilotto nipped-waist, full-skirt dress silhouette, albeit with an inventive construction that utilized 3-D printing techniques. These looks were strong—the nipped-waist dresses, in particular, were sculpted in a way that felt fresh. But they simply weren't as forceful, or as distinctively new, as the dozen or so pieces that opened the show. A single garment marked the transition from one phase of the collection to another: After the printed puffer coat with the voluminous skirt and ruff-like collar, most everything on the runway seemed a bit of a retreat. That said, even in retreat, this was a compelling and convincing show.