September 13, 2005 New York
Her two primary influences, Amish craftsmanship and West African colors, were combined with varying degrees of success. Dresses won out as the strongest pieces, providing a great opportunity to show off both the handiwork, like lace and quilting, and textural fabrics. Liu Dan wore a patchwork dress that was a medley of diamond-shaped pieces of indigo fabric. Atong wore a dress of lace cedar circles that widened in diameter from the bodice down to its orange ribbon-trimmed hem. A woodsy print on cotton voile, with wood bead detailing at the bust line, had a full skirt, and a cotton Jacquard version shot through with silver leaves had an appealing openwork bodice.
Separates, however, were a little trickier. A laser-cut leather cardigan was on target, but bib-front shirts with insets seemed fussy. Coats, both the trenches and pea coats, looked bulky. Flag-print ballet flats, which Malandrino is making in collaboration with Repetto, were eye-catching. And her eponymous shoe line, mainly crocheted designs with wooden heels, had its debut during the show.
Overall, it was a departure for a designer who is known for petal-pretty, flowing pieces. While the clothes were well made, the effect could be precious and artsy-craftsy, and maybe not as grounded as the designer intended.