The artful mix is a hallmark of modern fashion, but it can be a perilous approach. One too many vintage references and the whole effort crumbles into thrift store pastiche. There is no danger of that happening at Perry Ellis, where Patrick Robinson showed yet another strong collection that showcased his skill at making oddball combinations work as persuasively sophisticated sportswear.
Once again, Robinson wisely opted for a small walk-through presentation, with just 18 looks on a band of fair-haired models, all bee-stung lips and Pre-Raphaelite tresses. He merged retro and modern, regal with humble, and played strict masculine tailoring (a skill he refined while working for Giorgio Armani) against giggly, sweet femininity. Robinson put a matelassé mustard bolero atop jean-tailored khakis, or a filmy black ruched blouse against a dense jacquard pencil skirt, or a royal-blue top with lime-green beading over a taupe skirt covered in ribbon. Workaday seersucker and polished cotton countered richer materials like jacquard, velvet, and chiffon, while shapes were simple and wearable: plenty of variations on the pencil skirt, neat full-leg trousers in crisp fabrics, and tops cut close but not skintight, accented with a touch of seventies-era peasant chic in the pintucking and embroidered touches. Plenty of designers can throw together some pieces and call it fashion; the difference (and the delight) at Perry Ellis is watching Robinson turn that into a realistic, wearable proposition.