Proposition: A Détacher is Lanvin for Brooklyn girls. That might sound like a stretch, but designer Mona Kowalska certainly shares Alber Elbaz's affinity for pattern making; like him, she can create drama in a garment from nothing other than construction. And she and Elbaz also bring a sense of wit to their brands—in Kowalska's case, a wit that's surreal and often a little goofy. Take the trousers at today's show, the ones that came with vastly oversize paper-bag waists. On first appearance, the trousers were strange; on second viewing, as the idea
settled, they were kind of hilarious. And on their third exit, with the extra material folded over, they came off pretty rad, in fact.
But the Lanvin analogy is inexact. Kowalska is profoundly indifferent to glamour—hence the low-key Brooklyn-ness of her brand—but she often seems to want very little to do with sex, either. There's generally nothing coy in her covered-up looks, and nothing risqué about them when they're revealing. It's that void that probably explains why A Détacher, for all its extravagant charm, has never crossed over into true cult-label status.
Kowalska's latest collection, inspired by, well, grandmothers and hanging out with grandmothers, wasn't likely to up the sex appeal. (Not surprising, perhaps, given the theme.) That said, there were plenty of good ideas here, as there always are. This season, Kowalska was playing interesting games with scale, blowing up the sleeves on lots of garments, and magnifying checks, needlepoints, and vintage scarf patterns for her prints. She also put a special emphasis on knits, most of which were no-brainers. Who doesn't want a swingy knit skirt, or a little crewneck threaded with gold chain at the collar like a necklace? And Kowalska continued her streak of sharp accessories: A small shoulder bag with a scalloped edge was one simple standout, and among a whole range of very good shoes, her T-bar sandals deserve special mention. Low heels or no, the Brooklyn girls will find plenty of ways to sex them up.