After the grunge-fest that was Fall '11, it was a surprise to find Joseph Altuzarra in a sweeter mood for Resort. Still, despite the slight tonal shift, the loose and louche direction the designer explored last season was very much alive and well. "I wanted to keep working on the casualness of Fall," he said at a showroom presentation today. Altuzarra ticked off the south of France—particularly Saint-Tropez—and Brigitte Bardot as inspirations. It amounted to trading one acknowledged master (that'd be Marc Jacobs, whose spirit, for better or worse, hovers over all those who revisit grunge) for another (Yves Saint Laurent, patron saint of la Côte d'Azur).
If the new looks lacked some of the bracing surprise of the label's Fall offering, they also testified to the flexibility of Altuzarra's vision and his talent. There was plenty to like in this lighter, breezier collection. Lace-up tunics and shirtdresses—some with blocked leather panels—recalled vintage YSL. Eyelets (which, as a motif, are bewitching plenty of designers at the moment) added lightness to corseted dresses, cropped tops, and even sinuous flared trousers. They were also cleverly integrated into lightweight knit sweaters and deployed as a print on cotton poplin baby-doll frocks.
Altuzarra brought the vintage feel up to the present by showing many of the looks with white low-top sneakers, made with his longtime collaborator Gianvito Rossi. And he revisited some of his newly minted house standards, too, for fun (and, no doubt, for profit). The parkas that thrilled the crowds for Fall are back in new, lighter-weight iterations: a throw-and-go cotton and a ghostly, translucent accent piece in shimmering white organza.