February 11, 2008
Loyalty might be the one human trait that trumps all others, so the sight of Diane von Furstenberg in the front row of her right-hand man Nathan Jenden's solo show was positively heartwarming. The clothes, on the other hand, had a chilly quality. Black in shade and Edwardian in their bustled, ruffled proportions, they looked like the weeds of a New Romantic widow, an impression that was compounded by the hair and makeup. If such a notion bleats "Eighties!" to you, you wouldn't be far wrong. Jenden showed a pouf skirt with a sailor-collared, ruffled shirt, and a skirt and bodice (with matching mask!) laden with hardware and stones that could have been lifted from a masquerade ball at Steve Strange's Blitz. The designer was carried away by construction: Almost everything was seamed, pleated, tortured, evento within a millimeter of its glamorous life. Artifice ruled, but Jenden's show notes talked about "Tudor ladies at the court of a 21st-century samurai," so he himself clearly wasn't unaware of the tricksy, costumey connotations.