September 28, 2011 Paris
Still, that strong sense of auto-appreciation wasn't all the designers plucked from Africa. It was also the ingenuity of the simple square scarf wrapped into seemingly complex silhouettes. And, in cautious doses, paisleys and block prints. The task, Vandevorst explained, was "how do we take that and make it right for Europe?" They answered quite elegantly with dark moody silks, some of them heavily layered, fringed, and tasseled; others lean, draped, and fastened with skinny ties. Printed scarves with more fringe spilled out of jackets and were looped and belted as halters. The Western world's warrior also got his due. Vandevorst and Arickx have long loved a military reference, but this time it was more of the decorative parade-bound variety, with panels of frogging set askew on dresses and straight on shrunken soldier's jackets, and braided leather harnesses looped around shoulders. This marriage of ideas read quite rock 'n' roll, aided by the Mohawk-like tribal headdresses and the black and oxblood leathers. And like rock 'n' roll, at times this merger of culture and concept got a little messy. But overall, it made for one of A.F. Vandevorst's most immediately appealing collections in many seasons.