Willow is based in Australia, but more often than not, you'd be hard-pressed to locate anything particularly Australian in Kit Willow's clothes. This season, though, she found inspiration close to home—namely, in the painted raw linen used as a wall covering in the new Willow shop in Sydney and in the extraordinarily hardy hide of the Australian crocodile, a vicious creature sometimes referred to as the last dinosaur. (Fun fact: Did you know that crocs kill or injure as many people in Australia each year as sharks do? Don't go to Australia!) What unites these two seemingly binary influences, Willow explained, is their surface-ness—an abstract connection, to be sure, but one she elaborated through the collection's use of croc prints and applied finishes, such as the foil scales stamped onto leather. In addition, she played with the crocodile theme by patterning dresses and skirts to resemble draped hides.
As seasonal themes go, "surface elements" is pretty loose, and this collection's strength was that Willow didn't waste energy overemphasizing it. Yes, there were the rather literal metallic scales and the croc-inspired cuts, but there were also the killer silk pants, slit up-up-up on the side, which didn't have much to do with anything except looking dead sexy and easy to wear. And though you could, if you tried, make a case for Willow's Madame Grès-pleated numbers having a kind of pachydermal density and tactility, that would only undermine their well-made loveliness. Except, actually, it wouldn't, because Kit Willow's emerging signature as a designer is her ability to marry tough and pretty in an idiosyncratic way—that Madame Grès dress, those slit-open trousers, the trademark bras and corsets, they all have a warrior princess mien. You might even call it an outback mentality.