September 08, 2011 New York
The collection Chung showed today was a case in point. There were some very good pieces—and a lot of them, in fact, involved little or no draping at all, like a pajama-y blouse and pant set in a purple print, or a sparkly, tailored jacket with a fan of pleats kicking out the back, or a pair of jogging-style shorts detailed with zippers. But there were also too many pieces that seemed over-considered, like Chung's dresses with sculpted jersey strips protruding off the hip, and jackets and dresses fussed with long strands of black fringe. The latter group keyed off the designer's major reference point this season—Aubrey Beardsley and the birth of Art Nouveau. As it turned out, she did better when she played the inspiration into prints. A Spirograph-esque print, black on white or vice versa, was especially good. One of the strongest looks of the show was a simple spaghetti-strap draped dress, which counterpoised the black-on-white and white-on-black prints against one another, to fluid yet graphic effect.
In general, Chung was at her best today when she pushed her draping, gently but effectively, in new directions. A white draped dress near the start of the show came off as the kind of thing an edgier Kate Middleton might like to wear; it should fly at retail. And the looks Chung executed in sand, khaki, or black parachute silk were uniformly strong, if safe. It's a good thing that Chung dares herself to experiment with new materials and various kinds of construction; it would be interesting if she dared herself to try something really outrageous.