September 11, 2010 New York
As she was researching her new collection, which was initially inspired by Dutch dress, Yeramyan came upon a trove of photos of early-twentieth-century farmers. The Dutch idea was maintained in a plethora of pan collars, but it was the clashing patterns of the farmers' clothes that really seized her imagination. It was a dangerous choice for this designer, clutter-prone as she already is: As Yeramyan explained today, the farmers wore their stripes and their checks and their florals all together. But she navigated it wisely, deciding to tamp down the contrasts by playing line and texture against each other, rather than using competing prints. Thus, dresses came in contrasting panels of cotton lace and cotton grid, or in two or three layers of translucent chiffon.
Araks came to attention first as a lingerie brand, recognized for its clean look and pointillist construction. Perhaps the other reason this collection felt as satisfying as it did is that Yeramyan's use of sheer fabrics—and delicate ones, like lace—allowed her to engage that expertise. Those layered chiffon dresses were intimate in their detail; ditto the generally strong shirting, in lace and semi-sheer striped silk; and the bodice construction on some of the dresses. Where she ran into trouble was in her reinterpretation of the bustle, another idea snatched from the photographs. Playing with a raised hip wasn't a bad idea in theory, but in practice it came off a little awkward. So, too, the similarly vintage-feeling long dresses, with their underskirts. They just didn't feel modern.
Elsewhere, there were boxy blazers and tailored shorts, which were perfectly nice but ho-hum. Unless this part of the line is developed more fully, pieces such as these will continue to feel a little extraneous. Yeramyan still seems to be figuring out her precise niche, the thing she does better than anyone else. We'd recommend she build on the smart, easy-to-wear shirting, and those layered chiffon shifts, and the contrast cotton lace and grid—all ideas worthy of elaboration.