Band of Outsiders
September 09, 2011 New York
The verdict? These collections felt small. Sternberg is a strict editor of his shows, which is generally a good thing, but with the women's clothes standing alone, you sort of wished you could see more of the pieces he had undoubtedly left on the racks at his showroom. That was particularly true of Boy, the elder of the two women's lines. Seizing inspiration from Peter Weir's hypnotic film Picnic at Hanging Rock, Sternberg sent out a sampler platter of looks that conjured the film's Edwardian milieu. Its pastoral setting was reflected especially in toile de Jouy prints; Sternberg updated these materials by citifying them, subjecting the toiles to a reverse dégradé so they faded to black, and using them to make, among other pieces, a sharp cutaway trenchcoat. The other look cribbed from Picnic was schoolgirl chic—box-pleated skirts, neat blouses—and that was clearly catnip to Sternberg; he relishes an opportunity to exercise his fastidiousness. There was also a thread of pieces that were almost jarringly urbane, such as a slick, patent leather anorak, or a version of the classic Boy by Band bandage skirt executed in black leather and detailed with zips. These pieces worked, as just about everything did—the long duster coats were particular standouts—though the dégradé toiles may have been more compelling in theory than in practice.
Then there was Girl. After the show, Sternberg said his aim with that line was to summon the modern version of that Picnic at Hanging Rock girl, which he did by sending out 13 looks that were very, very pretty. The pastoral mood reigned here, from a quilted jacket in a microfloral print to a multi-floral dress in varying pastels. There was a creeping darkness—literally—in one look: a lace T-shirt and shorts set, in which the shorts had been dip-dyed in black at the hem. (This was one of those ideas you wanted to see extrapolated in a few other garments.) Overall, the Girl clothes suggested both that Sternberg continues to gain fluency in softness and curves, and that he could emerge as a serious rival to Ralph Lauren, given his ability to make clothes that tap into the romance of a world and a mood.