February 09, 2013 New York
Inspired by the boiler suit, Kao mixed traditional workwear staples—Carhartt-esque field jackets, shearling collars—with more glamorous accents, such as zip-off elbow-length leather gloves. "It's my approach to modern-day dressing," said the designer a few days before the Saturday afternoon show. "A mix of dolly polish and modern strength." When Kao kept close to that notion, she delivered big hits. A favorite was an off-the-shoulder cocktail dress in blush silk, piano wire-thin straps holding it up. That same silhouette delivered in black quilted leather: It's easy to imagine it becoming a must-have among art world scenesters. We also liked the Cruella de Vil-ish spotted fur, especially in the form of a straight pencil skirt. (With the models wearing a true red lip, you couldn't help but be reminded of the Disney villain.) Kao could have edited out a few looks in the middle. A blue box-sleeve tee paired with a gold Lurex skirt was nothing special. But overall, it was an impressive effort, topped off with some strong-but-sensible pumps and delicate claw jewelry. Those juxtapositions—tough but girly, rough but pretty—summed up a job well done.