There was a considerable cash injection into Sass & Bide about a year ago, and it showed today. To begin with, casting doyen Russell Marsh was backstage exclaiming that he wanted his girls to look "Fresh! Fresh! Fresh!" He has one of the best eyes for models in the business, and he pulled many of the heavy-hitting girls into this show. Makeup star Charlotte Tilbury was accordingly making them look fresh, fresher, freshest. You want beautiful girls to out-beautify themselves? Go to her. Meanwhile, the designers of Sass & Bide, Sarah-Jane Clarke and Heidi Middleton, knew they were collaborating with some of the best and were quietly confident in their own Spring collection. They described this offering as "born on a trip to Buenos Aires and Peru—but more about the energy and feeling of those places than the aesthetics."
Presenting something more stripped back and stark this season, the duo was working in the vein of "the traditional modernist," according to Heidi Middleton. There was a play on the masculine and feminine, particularly in the use of the tuxedo, as well as on light and dark—yes, this was another predominantly black and white collection for Spring. There was discernibly less of the embellishment and ethnic folderol of seasons past. While it might not have been Le Courb modernism they were looking at, a sense came through of the Deco (or maybe disco) kind, the kind with a small M.
When embellishment was used, it was done mostly with precision and control, such as in the edging of a cape or to enhance the structure of a dress. And when the designers went for it, it was still with a certain element of restraint: Witness a controlling grid pattern to encase fluoro orange shells, the intense use of small, oblong silver paillettes, or the almost military-style embroidery on the last looks of the collection.
This new restraint suited the collection well and made it one of Sass & Bide's best offerings. They already have 20 shops in their native Australia alone, and their eyes are now firmly set on the northern hemisphere, with global online ordering and plans afoot for a New York flagship store to open in March 2013.