February 06, 2013
Punk is the theme of the upcoming Costume Institute mega-show, and so it's highly likely that John Patrick beat a lot of designers to the punch today, with a collection inspired by the muses of Mudd Club-era downtown New York. Much to his credit, Patrick scavenged references beyond the obvious, citing not Madonna or Debbie Harry, but mostly forgotten East Village It girls such as Patti Astor and Anya Phillips. You got the sense that Patrick's sense of their milieu, and the look and attitude of the personalities who populated it, is real and specific. And that grounding allowed him to interpret the familiar slouchy, thrift-shop chic in a surprisingly clean and polished way. Fuzzy faux-fur coats and jackets with slumping shoulders, for instance, suggested the East Village aesthetic without stooping to quote it directly; so too, the collection's variety of relaxed pencil skirts, which hung below the navel with just the right insouciance. Patrick's freshest take on his reference came toward the end of the show, as he cracked open his rather numbing palette of neutrals by introducing a range of shocking pinks. One look, marrying a neon-pink pencil skirt to a cropped pastel twinset, seemed to sum up the strategy here: Keep the clothes simple and balanced on the knife point between edge and refinement.