For a newcomer, Joseph Altuzarra is an exacting designer. There was an uncompromising rigor to the 27-year-old's Spring collection of duchesse satin dresses and suits spliced with geometric strips of python and metallic leather, not to mention an impressively high level of workmanship. "I asked myself what makes clothes feel modern," the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund nominee said backstage, explaining that he looked to the Internet for answers, borrowing not only bits from the sixties, but also techno and tribal elements, as well as a hefty helping of French chic. We'd also throw in deconstruction, and subtle nods in the direction of both Tom Ford and Claude Montana.
As complicated as that sounds, it all felt of a piece. It helped that Altuzarra worked within a narrowly defined color palette, opening with a series of white looks and closing with navy, connecting the dots in between with hits of neon (for leather belts and bangles) and the aforementioned python. It was cut into squares, triangles, and circles and patchworked onto the fronts of dresses in ways that accentuated the womanly form.
The cone-shaped busts, in particular, will make Altuzarra's dresses difficult for all but the most daring women. But relatively more modest types could find pieces to satisfy: a clingy, densely knit navy tunic and matching flared pants; a nude python jacket with silver accents worn with full white trousers; a body-loving navy duchesse satin coat-dress with epaulets. Relative, here, is definitely the operative word.
This wasn't quite the crowd pleaser that last season was, but there's no denying it was gutsy. Altuzarra's clarity of vision is going to take him a long way.