A chance meeting with Malcolm McLaren approximately eight years ago, around the same time Jonathan Riss launched his label, materialized into fringed miniskirts and shaggy coats at Jay Ahr today. To those obvious late-seventies Britishisms he added in academic-uniform and nightlife dress codes—strange bedfellows, surely. And yet the collection came together with polished sex appeal.
As always, Riss devoted his energies to sourcing unique materials as much as to establishing his mood. From Italy came a soft, bouncy blend of viscose, silk, cashmere, and cellophane that might as well be dubbed neo-neoprene; it was perfectly suited to a hooded caban. A technical fabric with rubbery ridging had a weirdly pleasing hand feel, as did striped lacquered suede. Riss also took advantage of advancements in faux leather and fur, micro pleating the former as panels on skirts and sleeves, and using the latter to emphasize shoulders (any similarity to Einstein's hair was purely coincidental). The designer returned to the zipper play that was so predominant for Pre-Fall, this time applying it as a framing device for the fringes and as a contouring device, only now with more linearity, less groove. If you looked closely, you might have noticed zipper teeth as trim on a denim skirt—yes, the material-focused designer finally wrangled up some Japanese raw denim and worked it into a great jean jacket with an oversize sailor collar. It wasn't the sexiest piece in the collection, but it lingered most in the mind.