As a general matter, ambition in a designer is a good thing. It's good to want to elevate the tone of collections, and to create strong, memorable looks. But ambition is a bit like a horse—you've got to break it, make it docile and willing to proceed at a trot when called for. Otherwise it'll keep getting away from you. Australian Kym Ellery is about midway through the process of "breaking" her ambition. Her latest Ellery collection was more attuned to nuance than her last few, with more of a sense of measure in the silhouettes, and a handful of pieces that showed their refinement in subtle ways. A bustier top debossed in paisley, for instance, or a pair of lean black trousers fronted in green or blue were elegant in their reticence. Meanwhile, more "special" pieces, like another bustier that featured draped sun-ray-pleated silk, had quiet force—it was rightly styled to stand alone.
But this collection was still troubled by Ellery's instinct to go big and sculptural with her shapes, and to clutter them together. A voluminous organza skirt in varied paisley prints, for example, was really strong on its own, whereas a bustle-hipped leather jacket with an oversize collar gilded the lily, volume and proportion-wise. There were lots of instances like this: The V-neck dress in green and black, with soft pleats and bell sleeves, good; another, similar V-neck dress in white, with larger bell sleeves and an embellishment of sun-ray pleats, too much. Many aspects of this collection were very appealing, with nice variation in texture and a few great individual pieces you could imagine restyled in very soigné ways. It's not that Kym Ellery needs to check her ambitions; she just needs to make them behave.