Fashion week is always a labor of love, but perhaps no one felt the pangs quite as literally this season as Wayne Lee. The designer went into labor 45 minutes after attending her own Fashion's Night Out fête (she delivered a healthy baby boy) and still managed to pull off a Spring 2012 runway collection just a week later. "I was attracted to photographs of the American desert landscape, and I loved how stark and beautiful the desert birds of prey were," Lee said, calling from the hospital bed where she stayed until the day before her runway date. "It was about light and flight."
Aside from the palette—black, white, bone, and a jolt of bright blue in a "rope snake" print by artist collaborator Benjamin Degen—the inspiration wasn't directly obvious. Instead, Lee seemed more influenced by her pregnancy. Rather than cutting on the bias as she did for Fall 2011, she showed more forgiving sleeveless blouse dresses (perfect for hiding a baby bump) generously cut from fully lined silk. There was also a focus on layering, and in some styles, it was tough to tell (in a good way) where one piece ended and another began. As the show progressed, most of the looks were likable and obviously well thought-out, and you couldn't help but feel a bit of Ann Demeulemeester déjà vu with the pieces that had double-breasted mannish details, styled with Doc Martens oxfords and boots.
There are worse designers to emulate, but after Lee's Rick Owens ode last season, a more directional ingenuity would have been a nice surprise.