Biography can be more or less relevant to a designer. In the case of Calla designer Calla Haynes, it seems worthwhile pointing out a few things, especially for the sake of those not yet familiar with her two-year-old
label. Haynes hails from Toronto, Canada, home of famously nice people; she lives and works in Paris, birthplace of couture. The road from Toronto to Paris included stops at Rochas and Nina Ricci, where she worked under Olivier Theyskens, and stints as a print designer for various emerging brands. All of that background is more or less readable in Haynes' Calla clothes, which are print-driven and friendly with a whiff of couture in the materials and construction.
This season, Haynes found her starting point in a serious material—a paper tweed in a bright coral and not quite fluorescent yellow, which she used both on its own, in casual pieces including a boyfriend jacket and kicky, pleated shorts, and as an accent in garments such as a tailored trenchcoat. Her digitized prints echoed the tweed's texture without reproducing it exactly—witness the nubby look of a long, printed chiffon skirt and matching top or the marbling on the gray organza cocktail dress with black underskirt. Print is the strength of this collection. Though a pair of wide gray trousers looked great, in general Haynes' solid-colored clothes didn't stand out the way her printed pieces do. She's also got a great eye for color, as witnessed by a cheerful minidress with contrasting panels of printed yellow and turquoise silk. The unavoidable word is cute. That's not an insult; Haynes does well by her youthful silhouettes. But she clearly possesses the design vocabulary to articulate a richer, more distinctive point of view. These are early days for her brand; give her time.