Particularly in New York, one learns to approach with trepidation a fashion show hinging on a highly conceived theme. This is why Juan Carlos Obando
gave us pause as his models marched out to the peppy theme from The Magnificent Seven
looking as if they'd just been tossed off a bucking bronco. Obando's message, however, wasn't camp in the least. Instead he pondered the macro idea of new frontiers and the micro one of imparting the patina of history and natural forces to textiles. The result of the latter, or actually of both, was tailored peplum jackets, sexy front-slit skirts, and coats cut in a mottled silk with a beautiful depth. Now seems like a good time to let editors and retailers know that the "dust" isn't part of the look, à la tacky denim, but merely smudged makeup. Barneys buyers, you may now breathe. Obando's new frontier is how to use his wicked old-world skills to make clothes that say something for today. His jackets certainly hit the nail on the head, with perfect hand-finishing inside and out—elegant enough for lunch uptown but so innovatively crafted that they can be crumpled like a jean jacket with no consequence. Needless to say, these were a great leap forward from last season's stiff and stuffy ladylike silks. Obando also advanced his signature twisty, pleated dresses, now in a rainbow of gorgeous muted jewel tones, with cutouts. The sole detraction here was Obando's penchant for repetition, but then again, better a clearly made point than the alternative.