The art-fashion frisson that continues to seduce so many designers of both menswear and womenswear struck Jay Ahr's Jonathan Riss from a different angle for Pre-Fall. Forget all the MoMA-worthy auction bait; he had his sights set on the purity of African patterning and ornamentation, and used working zippers as his primary medium. If this link wasn't immediately apparent upon glimpsing his come-hither dresses, it was compelling enough in his mind's eye to yield a collection that revealed his technical strengths. Basically, the zippers could be manipulated at various points along the garments to vary the degree of exposed skin or modify silhouettes. Riss seemed to delight in determining when to include a two-way zipper, where to position the openings, and how to use them for optimum contour definition. In his demonstrations, some were more intuitive than others. Still, they added functional decoration to his LBDs and flouncy skirts, and this made him proudest of all. He also seemed pleased with his latest fabric innovations: an embossed faux leather patterned in squares like a chocolate bar, a technical woven material that evoked an African textile, and a funky red-shaded faux fur that was less imitation mink than extra-large layer.

Riss is well aware that his trompe l'oeil dresses (a one-piece blouse-skirt combination) have become his signature, and so, in addition to the zippered styles, he introduced a slightly longer length as well as a version embellished in micro-metal rings. This dimensional pattern also played out on an unstructured shirtdress that was roomier than usual for Jay Ahr. It also happened to be as sexy as any of Riss' slinky creations—and affords him new room to play around for the season to come.