February 19, 2011 London
Its strength, though, was largely in its subtleties. Sometimes that had to do with proportion, as in a voluminous white shirtdress, or the kimono sleeves on a tailored coat. Often, it was the detail that made Farhi's most winning pieces stand out. A curvy white wool dress featured strategically placed zippers that gave the look a graphic pop. A navy halter top in substantial jersey was detailed with broderie anglaise. A black melton trenchcoat had dramatic split sleeves. One of the oddest and best subtle touches was the fusing process Farhi had applied to a variety of cable knits: Shape-wise, the pieces were nothing special, just boxy crewneck sweaters, but the fusing created an intriguingly un-knitlike texture. It seemed as though the cables had been sculpted out of the sweaters, rather than woven into them.
An especially good version of the fused cable knit was white in front, navy in back, and that was characteristic of this collection's play with contrast. Elsewhere, there were the calfskin/jersey dresses, the calfskin mounted in a geometric block that worked against the close fit of the jersey, and flat wool skirts with Miyake-esque pleats sewn on, apron-style. Farhi's architectural impulse sometimes saw her straying into ungainly proportions and construction, to wit the high, mannish trousers and full skirts with cummerbund waists, or a stiff, shiny column dress that didn't particularly look like it was supposed to have a person inside it. It's hard to complain about Farhi's missteps, though—it's her willingness to integrate new ideas into her clothes that's the source of her eternal youth.