When Johnson Hartig relaunched Libertine
a year ago, he did it with a bang: That Fall '11 collection had real finesse, with the screen-printing and embellishment Hartig applied to his vintage finds expressing a clear, poetic vision (at least with regard to the womenswear.) Then, last season, he returned with a collection that felt disappointingly dashed-off. The Fall '12 clothes Hartig showed this evening fell somewhere in the middle of that range: On the one hand, a lot of work went into this season's heavy hand-beading and -studding, and there were some stunning pieces on the runway; on the other hand, this collection was pretty much just the sum of its parts. And for every dazzling item—like the full, Alaïa-esque knit skirt with blue metallic paillettes woven through, or the show-opening black cape gleaming with studs—there was another look that came off belabored and literally heavy. All in all, a mixed bag. A very disco mixed bag, with a lot of cool floral dresses and A-line check coats redolent of heyday Blass.
On the men's end of things, it's fair to wonder how seriously Hartig takes the clothes on his catwalk. This reviewer's guess: not that seriously. Sometimes Hartig's playfulness works, as in motorcycle and varsity jackets bedazzled with punchy messages and skulls and crossbones on the back. Mostly, though, the menswear came over as an afterthought.