June 14, 2011 New York
Matthew Williamson, turning Japanese? The designer was inspired by the art and culture of the Far East for his latest Resort collection, which borrowed motifs from traditional Japanese painting for its prints, and shapes from the Japanese wardrobe for its styles. Loose, kimono-like frocks were banded with belts resembling traditional obis, though these gleamed in metallic. Landscape prints influenced by classical Japanese watercolors were modernized with the subtle addition of cityscape elements—skyscrapers inserted among the blossoming trees. Florals played a large part, whether sequin-encrusted and scattered over shifts, flattened into prints, or knit into patterns on long intarsia dresses and skirts. These elements worked best when sparingly applied. A batwing-sleeved nude dress with an obi belt had a band of landscape print bordered by strips of hot, neon chartreuse. Elsewhere, an overreliance on Day-Glo accents and an overly insistent use of print weighed down the collection. Williamson's longtime fans may, in fact, be a little puzzled by his newfound Japonisme. He wisely rounded out the offerings with pieces that would be at home in any MW collection. A long-sleeved draped gown in cobalt blue, for example, and a few drop-waisted lace shifts—a new shape for the designer.
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