In the years since the shuttering of Cloak, his dark, slightly sinister menswear line, Alexandre Plokhov's devotees have been at something of a loss. He put in a few seasons under Donatella Versace at her label's menswear, but Plokhov's own brand of strictured suiting was more or less an eBay find. Good luck seeking out similar elsewhere.
The designer launched his namesake line quietly last season with a more mature collection of faintly military suits, outerwear, and accessories. For Spring, he expanded his offerings further. The line now includes abbreviated, short-sleeved blazers and skintight, tapered cargo pants; long, oddly masculine men's skirts; and little matching cadets' hats. "A recruit says good-bye to his girlfriend," Plokhov said of his concept at his presentation today, and you could see the dystopian war the guy was going to wage—circa 2112 or beyond.
Plokhov's aesthetic sometimes tends toward the severe, but there's still very little around in the vein of what he offers. The intervening years between Cloak (which shuttered in 2006) and now have burnished both his tailoring skills and his European connections. He's also increased his ambitions. At the request of Barneys, which also hosted his presentation, the designer created his first women's collection, which will, for the season at least, be exclusive to the store. "He's an incredible tailor, and there's a real void in women's tailoring," Daniella Vitale, the store's chief merchant, said, as CEO Mark Lee nodded along. Plokhov gave his womenswear at least as much seamster-ly attention as his menswear, and often more—even he was slightly boggled by the intricacy of a corseted, flaring jacket. But there was softness, too, in simple silk georgette shirtdresses and asymmetrical handkerchief frocks.
Plokhov's aesthetic is largely his own, and the collection he showed felt well out of the whirl of trends and fads. There were occasional stumbles, as in a too-complicated plisséd-then-laser-cut dress, but it's hard to imagine that the designer, who is starting strong regardless, won't continue to improve under his new patron's care. In any case, Barneys is voting yes, and voting loud. Today, Plokhov's Fall menswear occupied a full window on 59th Street; come Spring, his women's will hang on five, the floor Rick Owens, Ann Demeulemeester, and Haider Ackermann call home.