September 07, 2005
Ask the Afghan-German design team behind Naum about what really gets them going, and they'll say fabric. Waleed Khairzada and Julia Jentzsch introduced their Naum collection this spring (they have more than 20 years combined experience at various labels), and their passion for textiles was apparent. "Intelligent" material, like antibacterial and sun-protective cotton, was cut and sewn into an oxford-style shirt with a panel of pleats in the back. Lacquered cotton, kimono silk from Japan, and silvery Jacquard are other favorite Naum materials. One deceptively simple dress was a single, selvage-to-selvage piece of black cotton lace, held in place with narrow straps ribbon-tied over a white cotton slip. Khairzada and Jentzsch also like to combine these fabrics in unlikely pairings, experiment with textures, and rethink the placement of something as essential as a seam. Linen culottes were matched with filmy, see-through knits thrown over bandeau tops. A mahogany-brown cocoonlike jacket resembled tree bark. One "technical wind coat" with a shawl collar and sports-mesh-lined pockets had an elaborate drawstring construction in the back and revealed the duo's obsession with active sportswear. Combine these unusual detailshandy needlework like smocking and intricate origami folds, shown with woven belts and chunky sandals (which the pair also crafted)then set it to a world-music soundtrack, and the result is a somewhat ethnic, slightly confusing mix. The scene-stealers were the finale dresses, which somehow found a way to make silk chiffon seem casual and effortless, revealing what interesting new forms a fabric can assume when it falls into able hands.