Not every 24-year-old fledgling gets props from The New York Timesprior to his runway debut. But then there's nothing average about Brian Reyes. He's a self-taught designer, who in a very short time has worked (in various roles) at Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, and Oscar de la Renta. His spring show, for which Eliza Reed Bolen grabbed a front-row seat, proved that the last of those three mentors informed his aesthetic the most. The evidence? A distinct "lady" attitude, and a three-dimensional rose-petal-embroidered skirt that had both sass and class.
"I wanted to tell a beautiful story, to show my love for my craft and my country," said Reyes, referring to his parents' homeland, Colombia. From delicate, braided straps on lace-trimmed camisole tops, to a caramel-color skirt constructed entirely of plaits, his love of the craft was apparent. Texture was also abundant, in the form of wood beading, raffia embroidery, silk burlap fabric, and a branch print. All of which tied in well with the safari theme, which was introduced in the second look: a khaki hacking dress. Reyes' clientele isn't likely to hunt for anything more endangered than a last-minute reservation at Per Se, though. He's designing for a woman with less-than-wild tastes. There were godet and pencil skirts for the uptown set, and deeply cuffed trousers and thirties-influenced crinkled-silk-chiffon blouses, paired with shrunken boleros of the same fabric and color (a new take on the twinset), for the occasional dalliance downtown.
With this collection, if Reyes didn't exactly explore new territory, he certainly aligned himself with a solid tradition. So is he worthy of the hype, and a promising newbie? In the words of Shakira, which blasted through the sound system, "claro, claro, claro."