A word about cool: At the United Bamboo show this morning, perennial cool kids Kim Gordon, Harmony Korine, and Karen O were seated in the front row. This is worth mentioning because their presence raises the question: Why is United Bamboo cool? The look is fetishistically clean-cut, the vibe demure. The clothes convey the kind of detail-driven precision that is usually associated with model-train enthusiasts. Thuy Pham and Miho Aoki don't do trendy and they don't do directional. Season in, season out, they give a gentle nip and tuck to the classic, and call it a day. United Bamboo should be boring.
And yet the best United Bamboo collections always have a pervy quality, as though the designers were persistently distracted by their curiosity about what "nice" girls might do in the backs of cars. For Spring, the pervy-ness was made relatively explicit, as Pham and Aoki aired out the Victorian underwear drawer. Coy white button-up jumpers were shown both alone and as underpinnings, and there was a kinky frisson to seeing the jumpers' bows and ribbons dangling out below a double-breasted linen blazer or a pair of high-waisted suede shorts.
Victorian bathing costumes led Pham and Aoki on two seemingly divergent paths: One led to the beach, a palette of sand and grass, and then on to sporty silhouettes and marine colors; the other led to the boudoir. Some of the best looks fused all this together, notably a pair of athletic short shorts in black lace and a red suede T-shirt-shaped apron dress cut away to reveal, at the back, a formfitting nude dress. For the most part, though, this collection's strength was its simplicity. A jersey minidress knotted in front, linen bicycle shorts, and spare-draped, trapeze-shaped, and A-line dresses all affirmed the influence of minimalism.
Meanwhile, accessories continue to be developed at United Bamboo. In addition to expanding the brand's selection of shoes (the best of which was a pump with a wood heel and ballet-slipper-kid vamp), this season marked its second canvas bag collaboration with Head Porter, and the introduction of sunglasses made by Facial Index. The sunglasses looked especially on point—a little nerdy, a little cattish. Just the kind of thing a nice girl might wear when she's being bad.