Memories of the Olympics may have faded, but search back in your headspace, past the Spice Girls, past the "Mobot," past Gabby Douglas' megawatt smile, and recall the case of Ye Shiwen, the 16-year-old Chinese swimmer who set a new world record in the women's 400-meter individual medley. Ye, you may recall, didn't just best the women competing against her by a historic margin; she also swam a final 50-meter split that was faster than Ryan Lochte's, who won men's gold in the same event. Experienced swimmers worldwide saw that, and were all like, WTF? (To use the technical language.) She had to be doping, they cried. Had to be.
Ye tested clean and protested her innocence. But the whole episode serves as a reminder that bouts of unprecedented excellence occasion as much suspicion as joy. It was something you recalled when Emilio de la Morena sent out a collection today that so improved on previous efforts, the audience was all like, WTF. If there's such a thing as fashion doping, de la Morena should be tested for it. It was hard to put your finger on what made this collection so much more convincing than usual; the temptation was to say that de la Morena had pared back his look and put a clear focus on tailoring, but that wasn't the whole story, for the collection was characteristically well stocked with frippery and frou. Perhaps it was just that he was using his frou with great specificity, applying tiny pleats to the hem of his sharply cut trousers or making sculptural bandeaux out of ruffles. And it helped, too, that the tailoring emphasis cut the treacle.
And if there wasn't something simpler, exactly, about this collection, it was certainly true that it was atypically relaxed. The tailoring was rigorous, yes, and some of the fitted cocktail looks were fussy and fell prey to de la Morena's habit of overdecorating. But there were also laid-back pieces such as long mannish jackets and slouchy, square-emblazoned silk tees, and among the cocktail frocks, de la Morena's thread-embroidered yellow slipdress had a modern ease. Ditto the bare, square-emblazoned silk tank thrown on over a girlish pink minidress, an outfit that gave the de la Morena signatures a new and winning attitude. He gets the gold with this go-around. And if he is taking fashion enhancers—whatever those might be—well, they work.