Elie Tahari is reaching out toward a younger crowd for pre-fall. And when Tahari says younger, he means it. At a preview in his Manhattan studio, the designer dubbed his latest lineup Z Tahari, after his 7-year-old daughter Zoe, who is a constant inspiration, but especially this season. Zoe, it turns out, asked her dad to make her a purse using pieces of neon duct tape this summer, and the designer incorporated the idea into this collection. Nearly every shift dress, silk blouse, and skirt came trimmed with fluoro grosgrain ribbon. Another key motif was zippers—"everywhere, up the kazoo," as Tahari put it—which added a practical versatility to many of the pieces. A long pencil skirt cut from stretchy scuba material (and lined in bright purple silk), for example, had a zipper trailing all the way up the leg, so you can adjust the slit to be as conservative or suggestive as desired. One of Tahari's signature sheaths, meanwhile, featured micro zips at the bust seams, so the neckline could be worn at least four different ways—a nice touch for a dress that retails for under $300.
Tahari went to town on prints this season, mixing up mirrored hothouse florals with colorful leopard and python patterns. It did seem slightly derivative of other designers who've pushed that look recently (i.e., Givenchy and Giambattista Valli). But overall, the result was refreshing and well thought-out for this contemporary label. "We're known for our classic go-to-work dresses," Tahari said, "but this season I feel like it's a new ball game. Finally, I feel like we're hitting on the kind of 'young luxury' we've been trying to push."