September 07, 2004 New York
Once again, Robinson wisely opted for a small walk-through presentation, with just 18 looks on a band of fair-haired models, all bee-stung lips and Pre-Raphaelite tresses. He merged retro and modern, regal with humble, and played strict masculine tailoring (a skill he refined while working for Giorgio Armani) against giggly, sweet femininity. Robinson put a matelassé mustard bolero atop jean-tailored khakis, or a filmy black ruched blouse against a dense jacquard pencil skirt, or a royal-blue top with lime-green beading over a taupe skirt covered in ribbon. Workaday seersucker and polished cotton countered richer materials like jacquard, velvet, and chiffon, while shapes were simple and wearable: plenty of variations on the pencil skirt, neat full-leg trousers in crisp fabrics, and tops cut close but not skintight, accented with a touch of seventies-era peasant chic in the pintucking and embroidered touches. Plenty of designers can throw together some pieces and call it fashion; the difference (and the delight) at Perry Ellis is watching Robinson turn that into a realistic, wearable proposition.