Leather legs or very bare legs. For Barbara Bui's Spring collection, bottoms were a binary proposition.
If this sounds limiting, Bui provided enough evidence to the contrary. For one thing, the leather pants came in a Goldilocks range of second-skin stretch legging, mannish trouser, and an in-between tailored fit. Tired of black? There was inky blue. As for "les jambes nues," blazers doubled as boxy minidresses while actual dresses could be mistaken for extra-long tops. Shorts came in one length: short.
Like many other designers this season, Bui was drawn to organza, except she layered hers, blouse plus blazer or blouse on blouse. This worked well, achieving the desired transparent effect with added dimension.
Straps that connected a jacket or vest from the inside had potential. Part harness, part seat belt, they created graphic angles over the soft organza. Bui might have pushed this idea even further, but instead she traded discipline for decoration. Stylized rather than traditional, her South American motifs appeared on chiffon scarves and as elaborately embroidered and embellished biker jackets, bags, and shoes. "I'm going for an artisanal touch, not a couture touch," she explained before the show, pointing to the raffia-stitched patterns and tassels. Small spikes were her requisite riff on rock 'n' roll.
Oversize bags were designed with "globe-trotters" in mind, she said. Jackets notwithstanding, the collection was pretty packable. But more than that, it was Bui giving her customers what they want. No-brainer black and white tube dresses for nighttime, roomy vests, and leather shirts—this is all uncomplicated stuff that appeals to a certain woman who doesn't need to bring sexy back because she never dared let it disappear. Of course, good legs are always a bonus.