"I wanted the romance back, but in the confines of what I do," Antonio Berardi said backstage before his show. Yes, it's been a good, long run for the titanium-edged, body-con look, and Berardi's been one of the go-to designers for it. But even girls who did short-short and tight-tight with unblinking dedication are feeling for something a bit softer. In other words: a ripe moment for this designer to shift gears.
This precise and elegant collection was actually a broader realization of the volume he started to experiment with for Resort. He carried over that season's full fifties skirt in sweet dresses puzzle-pieced from various silks (faille, triple-layer organza, washed satin), but left the hems raw to cut the sweetness. Berardi's girl is neither prissy nor showy. That's the reason he limited embellishment to little fabric bells—not a sequin or bead in sight. New for Spring were fluid, wide ankle-cropped culottes almost skirtlike in their proportions. Worn with a sheer tuxedo blouse or languid, boxy jacket, they had an audience full of women with access to a vast market of great pants positively covetous.
Spring's starting point was an image of a Victorian-era fencing dress ("Just a stunning thing," he said), and it guided the idea of movement and the fuller silhouette. That new shape was rendered especially beautifully in the last two ballet-slipper pink chiffon gowns dripping with those little flowerlike fabric bells. Berardi didn't entirely abandon his body-con-loving customer, but this was a well-argued case for her to diversify.