"Malibu Beach Barbie goes to a rave." That's how Toronto-based designer Jeremy Laing described his early-nineties-tinged Spring collection. It's an era many of his thirty-something colleagues are nostalgic for this season, yet Laing was able to take the very specific reference to a very brand-specific place. Laing tends to favor boxy, oversize silhouettes, and he stuck with those this season, weaving in a body-con piece here and there for an unexpected element.
Another big inspiration were the colors of sidewalk chalk. "I wanted to use the saturated brights that reminded me of childhood in the summer," he said a few days before his runway show at Chelsea Piers. They were best represented in a series of tech-poplin tunics and culottes in colors named Orangesicle and Dreamhouse Pink. That tech-poplin is a fun reminder of parachute fabric, that nineties standby used for outrageously tacky tracksuits.
Per usual, printed textiles played a major, if not dominant, role in the collection. This time around, Laing collaborated with New York artist Julia Dault on a multicolor print that looked as if it had been squeegee'd onto the fabric. It was particularly successful on a white silk wrap dress. Another print, a swirly, black and washed-out peach design, was inspired by Tiger Tail, a sherbet laced with licorice that is apparently quite popular in the Great White North.
But amid all the typical, there was the new. For the first time in Laing's career, he has produced shoes. A collaboration with Tiffany Tuttle, the chunky ankle boots were the strongest style—they grounded the collection's featherlight fabrics. Also new for Laing was menswear, something he's been wanting to try for some time. "I started out designing clothes for myself, so it just seemed like the logical next step," he said. Many of the pieces were almost unisex: a chiffon-bonded tunic, for instance, could have been worn as a dress on a woman. But designing men's seems to have given Laing the mental freedom to be a bit more feminine with his women's clothes. Those aforementioned body-con shapes—most notably, a mesh-bonded off-the-shoulder top that zipped up the front—were sexier than virtually anything he's designed before. For Laing, it's an interesting new avenue.