Gap's global caravan touched down in London to showcase its Spring collection, and creative director Patrick Robinson was all about the sophisticated and the sexy. When he was growing up, he wasn't alone in thinking of the chain as casual weekendwear. "It was just one part of people's lives," the designer said before yesterday's civilized presentation (kudos to the caterers). "But I've expanded the brand to be seven-days-a-week." Robinson sees this latest collection as putting in place the final components of his four-year revisioning of Gap, which is seeking to re-establish its hold on consumers' hearts and purse strings. He's bumped up the blouses, introduced a soft tailoring element, and brought a new body-consciousness to knitwear, though for most customers, the clearest sign of the changes that he has wrought will still probably be found in his approach to denim: for women, an elongated look fitted through the thigh with a flare toward the ankle; for men, a nonchalant "slim slouch," a slightly dropped crotch with a skinny leg. Then there were the denim's colors: a new bluer blue, contrasted with soft blush shades on a foundation of white.
What Robinson has brought to the brand is tightly edited precision. "No longer a table with one sweater in 30 colors," he said. Yep, instead of multiples, what stood out yesterday were specific pieces, like the white silk crepe cocktail dress with the keyhole back (Gap? Get used to it!) or the long white cotton skirt with big patch pockets, paired with a cap-sleeved top for an elegant evening option (Gap? Get used to it two times!), or the slouchy hooded jacket, with the volume of a radically cropped djellaba. There was something of the classic Perry Ellis spirit in such easy but chic outfits (Robinson did, after all, design for Ellis at one point). The designer also subtly tipped his cap to Gap's heritage by lining a soft lapel-less jacket with gray sweatshirting.