Bryan Bradley is a designer who is much engaged in the world of politics—and the arts, for that matter, and literature. You're as likely to find Lisa Yuskavage, the painter, or a Broadway star in his front row as a member of the ubiquitous Gossip Girl cast.
Aiming for "more gravitas," Bradley titled this evening's show Fashion as a Short-Story Collection. He was inspired by an article in The New York Review of Books by the writer Deborah Eisenberg (whose partner, actor Wallace Shawn, was in attendance, and whose expression throughout was priceless). The collection was divided into distinct parts (i.e. short stories), including a closing segment called Proposition Tuleh. Having turned his sights on the presidential election with his Fall 2008 show, and what he termed "Western entropy versus Eastern ascendancy" for Spring 2007, Bradley this time took on Proposition 8, the California ruling recognizing only marriages between a man and woman as valid. The lineup ended with not one but seven bridal looks, alternating masculine pants or shorts ensembles with feminine dresses and skirts. "They're marrying each other," Bradley explained.
The short-story concept was clever, yes, but it fragmented the Tuleh message, siphoning off some of its charm and diffusing a bit of its energy. There was less color and print than usual (here, perhaps, was some of the "gravitas"). On the other hand, there were also enough neat knit cardigan jackets, silky cargo pants, bow-trimmed shorts, skorts, eyelet blazers, and flirty dresses to keep us turning the pages.