Alice + Olivia
February 10, 2014 New York
Inspired by the illustrated pop-up books of Benjamin Lacombe, Bendet wrote her own fairy tale: Enchanted: The Search for the Golden Monarch was presented on a paper scroll, each chapter played out by models. There were plenty of props that helped move the plot along, as well as Cinderella dressed in a shimmery blue ball gown and Rapunzel glowing in green. The rest of the collection also had a fairy-tale feel, although it wasn't quite as literal. "The clothes are dark, sexy, and all tying back to a Victorian element," Bendet said. To wit: Nearly every look was styled with a black ribbon studded with crystal-and-gold flowers, which was either worn as a belt or a choker. The Victorian theme was also present in the cream and black high-neck blouses and dresses, as well as a long robe-coat covered in a red-velvet baroque pattern and worn with a pair of flared jeans. (So, really, it was about the Victorian era as it was interpreted in the seventies.) Bendet, who launched A + O with a pair of pants more than a decade ago, also introduced new trousers. Her husband's suiting inspired the covetable style—low to the waist and tapered just slightly at the ankle to achieve a certain line.
A few of the fifties-silhouetted outfits—particularly a cute mohair sweater paired with a shiny blue circle skirt—could have been edited out of the lineup, if only to keep the designer's fairy tale on track. Those styles had value, but the kind that is better left in the showroom. Where Bendet succeeded this season was in creating a wonderland where her girl would want to live. While wearing Alice + Olivia, of course.