September 12, 2011 New York
Of course, the Mulleavys have flirted with kitsch before—the quinceañera-inspired light-up birthday-candle heels of a couple of years ago come to mind. Here the effect was often hypnotic; it's undeniable that van Gogh's colors are powerful, and not just his purples and greens, but also the blues and yellows of his sunflowers, some of which looked digitized or pixelated in the designers' hands. But there was a frustrating aspect, too. The fifties prom dress silhouettes—nipped at the waist, with all the action at the shoulders and the flaring hems—seem pitched so resolutely in the past. And while you can picture Tavi showing one off on her blog or Elle Fanning wearing another on the red carpet, it's harder to imagine the grown-up woman willing to lay down four figures for one. It's a good thing for the over-21 set that there were color-blocked cable-knit sweaters and pretty jacquard pants.