September 18, 2011 London
It's the full kaleidoscopic look of seemingly haphazard assemblages of primary-colored chiffons layered with graphic silk prints, swatches of beading, and naive little scraps of appliqué that's Gray's calling card. But at times, the whole gives short shrift to its parts. Of course the eye only has a certain amount of time to parse the visual whirl as it marches by on a runway, and with Gray's bright woven-soled flatforms, yet another collaboration with Nicholas Kirkwood for Pollini, there wasn't a thing to slow these models down this season. That 60 seconds or so may or may not be enough time to notice the variegated dots on a little tweed suit that opened the show or the crafty hand embroidery of chiffon strips on chiffon dresses.
Still, for Gray, this collection was markedly streamlined. It was heavy on dresses, which may have a lot of visual oomph but still have the simplicity factor of pull over, zip, and go. That's true even if you don't have the headstrong independence of Gray's Spring muses like Gala Dalí, Poly Styrene, and Vali Myers. When I pointed out a Gray sweater on a fellow editor to a colleague recently, she expressed surprise. But Gray's work has life beyond a runway. Perhaps all you have to do is heed Mrs. Gray and her daughter. The latter's clever name for this collection? Trust Me.