Well, this was a very grown-up show. This afternoon, Tome
made its runway debut, one replete with slick production and very good models. But the really grown-up thing about this show was the clothes. Tome designers Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin are interested in women
—confident, cosmopolitan, polished yet unfussy in their sense of style. This Tome woman was conjured here better and more completely than she had been before. Perhaps it helped that Martin and Lobo's muse, the artist Shirin Neshat, was seated in the front row. Neshat made for an interesting choice as inspirations go, because her acutely political work is tricky to translate into fashion. So Martin and Lobo focused on the woman instead: her presence “strong and soft at once,” as Lobo put it, her experience as an exile (from Iran), and her own preoccupation with the mid-century Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum, whose wardrobe was a mix of traditional tunics and Balenciaga and Dior.
In practice, that added up to a lot of play with veiling and unveiling, restriction and release. That was if you wanted to read into the clothes—a plenty interesting activity. If all you wanted to do was wear them, meanwhile, the oversize blanket coats, silk-satin pieces in labial pink and red, and a pencil dress seemingly tattooed in a pattern of black lace would all make for fine places to start. This wasn't an absolutely perfect show, but Martin and Lobo managed to pull off that neat feat of pushing themselves and making surprising choices without dreaming up any foolish-looking clothes. That's due, one suspects, to their respect for the women who inspire them and the ones they want to dress. Truly, there's a power in designing for adults.