Band of Outsiders
December 14, 2011 New York
Keaton's persnickety, snobbish Mary in Manhattan is a self-styled intellectual, and the collection's edge came from Sternberg's usual borrowing from menswear, revamped for girls: here, collegiate cord blazers, shown with matching miniskirts or seventies flares, and a camel coat that might be professorial but for its sloping shoulders and softened lapels. The peplum blouses and pleated skirts in schoolmarm plaid might have looked uptight—and would have been, but for the uneven handkerchief hem and raw, scrabbly edge, delivered like a punchline at the end.
There's a funhouse-mirror quality to Sternberg's transformations, like the navyman's peacoat—a vintage staple—that becomes, in his hands, a bubbly kind of opera cloak, with one giant anchor button. Self-seriousness, in other words, is not on the table. In its place, he subs humor. (Keaton, fussy Mary aside, does too.) So among the offerings there was a ladybug print borrowed from a forties archival piece on a day dress and a boiler suit, and a cropped knit sweater—all girl—emblazoned with one giant word: Boy.