Juan Carlos Obando
June 25, 2014 New York
Obando says he was "highly impacted" by the challenge of distilling his signature nocturnal opulence into a sporty, sellable essence—albeit in an unlikely way: "I am more fearless about doing decadence," he said, and the result is a collection that's both more sumptuous and rougher than anything the designer has done previously. "You can see [the luxury], but there are no crystals and there's no shine." Indeed, there's considerably less swish factor all around here. Obando has pared back his floor-length gowns in favor of evening sportswear pieces in buttery leather, hammered silks, and rich Japanese cotton. The decision to up the ante in terms of separates was born, like Obando's J.Crew fare, of Barcelona—this time, its after-hours scene. "This is full-on debauchery!" he recalled thinking on one trip. "They are so sweaty, but they look so good!" An undone elegance was evoked through crisp blouses (which came in a few flavors: menswear-inspired, Veruschka à la Saharan, and faintly swashbuckling) that dripped with long ties at the cuffs. The wide, obi-style belts and slouchy trousers he teamed them with made for compelling looks that should only serve to pad Obando's red-carpet Rolodex. Surely this is stuff many an urbane star and stylist will go for; a few pieces felt downright Swinton-esque.
It's particularly interesting that Obando chose a pre-season collection to turn this dramatic a corner in the brand's aesthetic, but as the designer tells it, why stave off his future? "My past collections all have led me to this. I'm going here." Despite the fact that Obando has upped the opulence where materials and fabrication are concerned, his clothes felt more wearable than ever. The message here was a clear one: bigger, more beautiful, more badass.