September 16, 2012 London
Cha O Ha was the title Schwab gave it, which was, he said, Navajo for "in the wilderness." The Navajo and the Amazons seemed to be reference points for him. The fringing, the lacing, the slashed suedes had something of the frontier about them. The raffia felt more rain forest. The harness detailing in leather or Swarovski crystal suggested Amazon princesses. Then there was all the pleating, which echoed the chiton of ancient Greece. And don't forget the bees. Their honeycomb was a recurring visual motif. Often, all these elements came together in one outfit. It was too much. And when Schwab pleated soft, shiny skins colored in vivid shades of pink and blue, they injected an additional incongruity, looking like nothing so much as sheets of Plasticine laid across the body.
Schwab thinks. He has proved himself adept at incorporating the most arcane ideas into clothes that seduce. And his source material this season was certainly as promising as any he's ever worked with. But then Schwab's instinct is overwhelmed by overthinking, and the delicate balance on which his success depends tips over. That was made clearest here in his eveningwear. Earlier this year Schwab produced some of the most erotically suggestive and memorable gowns of the season. This time, suggestion solidified into showgirl territory. With added raffia. Inconsistency is always frustrating in talent you respect and admire. The consolation is that tomorrow is another season. The bee never gives up.