Calla Haynes' brand Calla is known for its prints. But this season, like a lot of print-focused designers, Haynes turned her attention to broadening the scope of her line and emphasizing other elements. Texture was key here: Haynes sourced some remarkable materials, including a glossy tweed and fuzzy jacquard fil coupé, and she worked with the legendary couture atelier Maison Lemarié in Paris to create a cocktail dress of feathers and tulle. Frankly, though, the tweed and jacquard didn't feel fully explored or integrated, and the cocktail dress, which could have been extraordinary, was merely very pretty.
Haynes did better with her other challenge this season, which was to add some casual zip to her line. The cropped motorcycle jackets in printed raincoat taffeta looked fresh, and a simple sweatshirt and skinny jeans ensemble got a major kick from its terrific, blue-toned foliage print. Elsewhere, back on familiar turf, Haynes turned out a clutch of cheerful minidresses, the best of which featured that foliage print and an almost-bare, tulle-covered midriff. An utterly straightforward A-line sheath in an abstract-expressionist-style print made for another strong look. It may be that Haynes does well with her prints because the weirder, creepier, or more jarring they are, the more they cut the treacle of her girlier looks. At any rate, this collection held a lot of promise for Calla: Haynes is testing her brand, and in the right ways. If the results this time out weren't as confident as the clothes in Calla's New York debut last season, that's understandable. Stretching yourself is hard.