September 16, 2009 New York
The clothes Melbostad sent down the runway—as Erin Wasson, Lauren Santo Domingo, Fabiola Beracasa, and assorted Trainas watched from the front row—were unmistakably his own. Uniforms and lingerie, his two evergreen interests, were combined in them…and it looked like Melbostad had declared war on the corset. He moved elastic straps from shoulder to slash-exposed thigh; delicate and decorative smocking became a textured carapace on a side-laced dress; and a brassiere became a plate of armor. All of this was executed in a stark palette of black and white, with lots of surface interest created by the choice of materials, including linen and suede. "I wanted to take tactile and natural fibers," the modest Norwegian said, "and put them into an urban context."
You could almost hear the personal orders being mentally rung up as a metal-encrusted biker jean, a chain-mail jacket with a peaked lapel, and the famous panel pants and biker jackets followed, one after another, down the runway. Despite the economy, Phi has had to go back into production with some of its highest-priced Fall pieces. It might have surprised Melbostad—but not us.