A professed fan of menswear fabrics for women, Chadwick Bell
posed the inevitable question: What happens if a woman raids her husband's closet, discovers, "Aha! This is what I want to be wearing," and has it all tailored to fit? Well, our apologies to the husband, but we understand the appeal of a hefty Donegal tweed just as well as the next girl. Working with luxe fabrics—from a sponged silk georgette to a creamy wool jersey—Bell put his spin on the classics, aiming to strip away the extras. Lapels disappeared from jackets; unseemly buttons and pocket flaps evaporated. One of the only sure signs of entry was an exposed zipper running down the front of a gray wool flannel sheath, giving what would have been a staid suiting option a sporty, sexy edge. A long silk gown in the collection's sole print, a cascade of gray-brown leaves on a deep steel blue backdrop, fastened like a men's tie at the neck. In the back, the halter gave way to another on-view zipper snaking down the spine and two strips of an exposed leather harness (you would never have guessed something so kinky from the front). A wool jersey wrap jacket in deep camel came with a flurry of tied leather trim at the bottom; it looked like what Phoebe Philo would make if she tackled cowboys and Indians.
Bell's restrained, woodsy palette and luxurious fabrics gave these pieces that hard-to-define feel of something special. The conservative silhouettes and subtle details may not spark everyone's interest, but they should keep Bell's current fans—and maybe a few of their discerning daughters—very happy, indeed.