September 20, 2009
Luella Bartley's girl has calmed down and smartened up for Spring. Where for the past few seasons every dress had been multicolored, flower-printed, beribboned, buckled, or frilled up in various pop-ironic ways, for this outing her clothes have become almost straightforward, in a mid-sixties Sunday-best sort of way. Stripping away the teeny, cutesy haberdashery of the collection had the effect of focusing attention on silhouettes: princess coats with Peter Pan collars, pannier dresses with
padded hips, and various other devices lifted from the Balenciaga era Great Granny knew so well. If it hadn't been for the fact that Bartley's color palette was bright and cheerful—lemon, lipstick red, teal, camel, and sugar pink—and all the shapes were cut short and given a girlish raised waist, it could have been an uncharacteristically sober affair for a designer who's made her name by supplying a hearty dose of cheek to runway proceedings. As it was, without the surface froufrou (excepting the tulle-frilled dress and skirt), the collection looked well made and set fair to compete on the same kind of ground as Marc by Marc Jacobs—although these clothes are going to read as several degrees more dressed up and formal than Bartley's usual offerings.