September 10, 2010 New York
We'll quibble with that. The show itself would have been a bit of a snorer if all it had done was retread the look of rusticated aristocracy. Peasant blouses and city trousers and zzzzzz… No, what elevated Spring was the fact that Lippes' constant and cohesive inspiration is women—real ones, not movie ones. Real women with all kinds of bodies, who want to look pretty, and sexy, and a little edgy, and also elegant, and very now, but always like themselves, and not like fashion victims. Lippes seems pretty clearly to believe that his job is to help all those real women square the circles of their desires, and show them clothes that are pretty and sexy and edgy and elegant and very now, and that will never, ever make them look like fools.
Let's start with the trousers, high-waist flares tailored to a T and shown in navy, gray, peach, and tomato red, among other colors. The fabrics were unpretentious (twill and denim), but the effect was ridiculously chic, coupled with smart lace blouses and cropped hand-knit sweaters and tuxedo jackets. A pair in cement gray, with sailor-pant-inspired lacing up the back, is a must-have for Spring; they may even sound the death knell of stovepipes. With the sundresses and diaphanous long skirts, Lippes went so far over the horizon of pretty, he wound up back at edgy. (Pretty does feel subversive, after all the spiked platforms and leather leggings of the past few years.)
Standouts included a long skirt of pleated chiffon, printed subtly in gray on the top side of the pleat, and left plain cream underneath. The skirt had plenty of movement, given the play of hard pleats and soft chiffon; the print/plain contrast gave it unexpected dimension, too. Another highlight: spaghetti-strap sundresses in white eyelet and a toile-esque chiffon, with fishtail hems as an added surprise.
While all that sounds sweet enough to threaten diabetic shock, Lippes cut the treacle with rough linens; punctuating colors of rust, copper, and chambray blue; and dense hand-knits—coincidentally from Uruguay—that had a feeling of real earthiness. Less effectively, he tried to toughen up his collection with Celine-esque leathers and the embroidered sweatshirt jerseys his line has been known for. Both felt out of place. In general, however, this outing had the snap of good sense. That may be an odd thing to say about a brand that is overtly romantic, but it is probably the correct thing to say about a designer with an unerring sense of the relevant.