First things first: Yes, those are scrunchies in Alexander Lewis' new collection. Second things second: Yes, the London-based Lewis will be producing the scrunchies for sale. And with that, one is tempted to say
thumbs-up, case closed, that is all. Review fini. But there was a ton more than scrunchies worthy of note in Lewis' latest. His preoccupation here was sexiness, a familiar theme, certainly, but one that the designer came at from an interesting angle: As he explained, he was imagining a woman keen to express her sexuality even in circumstances where it can't be front and center. For instance, Lewis referred to one look—a conservative frock with a long-sleeve bordeaux-colored blouse and knee-length skirt of chain-link jacquard—as his "synagogue dress." Elsewhere, he located vixenishness in masculine clothes, like a tailored wool suit with a skirt slit up to there.
The really unexpected flavor in this collection, however, was its Chicano influence. Lewis used to live in East L.A., and he cherry-picked a variety of references from that experience, everything from the architectural shape of a blouse's scalloping, to the Aztlán motifs in prints and intarsia knit sweaters, to the various chain-link jacquards. There was also a distinctly East L.A. vibe to his Dickies-shaped pants, and an overt nod in the "Mamacita" cashmere knit, which ought to be a fast seller. Ultimately, the clothes landed on the right side of the line between celebration and appropriation—more than anything, Lewis seemed to want to capture that certain fierce chola attitude and see if it could survive translation into luxury separates. It did, with a little help from a few scrunchies.