September 09, 2011 New York
The dominant VPL signature, of course, is body-consciousness. It's a theme Bartlett treats as no one else does, usually eschewing any implication of sex and instead exploring the form and movement of human anatomy. This collection, though, did have a whiff of sex about it—there was something ineffably sensual about the shrugged-on, asymmetric sweaters, and the cut-open bandeaus and black-banded bikinis had a graphic thrust that was Helmut Newton-esque. Meanwhile, the come-on of a long, dun-colored T-shirt dress was more overt: It was simply draped wide open at the back.
Bartlett really exerted herself with her materials this season. She made convincing suits out of neon coral neoprene and a white Tyvek-like coated linen, for instance, and her big finale featured exploratory, editorial looks crafted out of foam. There was also a subtle experiment going on with the shoes: Several pairs were vegan, but it was impossible to tell which. All in all, it was one of Bartlett's best collections yet.