February 11, 2008 London
It was strange, it was sinisterand mesmerizing. Without doubt, it threw up a glaring issue about how anyone could wear it as is (if you wanted to perambulate across a room within five minutes, forget it). But by the end, the cumulative effect neutralized that kind of pragmatic niggle. This was Schwab's most conceptual collection yet, arguably one that is powerful enough to push the reset button in how we see proportions.
What led him here was a reading of a Victorian proto-feminist novel, The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, followed by a collaboration with the artist Tom Gallant on the prints. Those influences scarcely matter to the results, though, which look new and "out there" in a way few designers dare in these days of commercial constraints. Not that there weren't salable-looking, impeccably made navy peacoats (two, tramline straight, were elongated to hit the ankle). The point is that this is one of those symbolically charged collections that may be a bellwether. Longer is beginning to feel better: It's a visual that's been moving inward from the margins since Roland Mouret and Jonathan Saunders also dropped their hemlines to mid-calf. If it seems crazy now, let's wait and see: The judgment call will only come after every other designer has had his say.