Gary Graham has an extensive trove of vintage clothes he mines for inspiration, and this season a pair of delicate, finely wrought jackets from perhaps a hundred years ago were it. But while Graham's designs always hew to the ethos of an earlier era, he's still keenly aware of what his customer wants to wear in the here and now.
For Spring, what she wants is a little more polish. Graham envisioned a city girl who'd fled for greener pastures, literally, and had to adjust her urban wardrobe accordingly. An exquisitely hand-beaded bolero looked like it had been sheared off at the bottom, and an embroidered dress—one of the strongest looks—was inspired by a chair he found abandoned in the woods. On the original needlepoint cushion, the pattern was still visible but the forest's sticks and leaves had worked their way into the frame. On the sheer organza dress, an abstract pine-needle print worked its way into dense floral embroidery that climbed up the bodice.
What constitutes more polish, though, is relative. Graham likes to play with volume through layering, and the slips and leggings worn under some skirts gave the impression—intentionally? unintentionally?—that the skirts' linings were slowly coming undone. Decidedly substantial was Graham's first true shoe collection. Wedged and heeled ankle boots in dark olive, red, and tan grounded the dreamy, old-soul clothes. "It's precious," the designer said a few days before his presentation, "but not precious at all."