September 11, 2011 New York
You may recall what HRH the Duchess of Cambridge wore to meet a bunch of movie stars in L.A.: a draped, long-sleeve gown that was a nothing color, yet diaphanously sparkly. That was Packham, and there were more of its ilk on view this morning. Indeed, some of the strongest looks seemed to direct pretty directly toward the K-Mid constituency. For example, there was a beaded Grecian gown in gold, and a handful of lean, bias-cut dresses covered in shiny, Deco-esque rectangular studs. But the news this time was color: Packham turned out a ton of lacy, frilly dresses and gowns in a Jelly Belly-bag palette, including lemon, lime, tangerine, and cherry red. Several of the colorful looks featured dégradé fading fanned out over Madame Grès pleats, an idea with punch. Elsewhere, the designer found an even savvier use of color, applying sequins in a floral arrangement on nude or cream-tone lace to create an effect like a three-dimensional placement print.
Packham's primary fault was a tendency to either under-work her looks or over-finish them. A short handkerchief-hem dress with a narrow belt, Chantilly lace detailing, and sequins was just too sweet; a cocktail dress in white with one fluttering sleeve and sequins and a floral appliqué could have used some simplification. And on the other hand, there were a few Halston-esque draped one-shoulder dresses that hardly set the pulse racing. People will buy them, but perhaps not Kate Middleton.