It's tempting to say that Felipe Oliveira Baptista
ventured into the wild this season. And to be sure, there was an exploratory vibe to his latest collection, manifested literally in the nomadic tone of the clothes on the runway. But "wild" would be precisely the wrong word to use in reference to Baptista's effort here; the right one would have to be "rigor." The other way this collection expressed exploration was in Baptista's finicky construction experiments: With military garb as his starting point, he worked a huge number of variations on standard-issue garments like the trench, the jumpsuit, and the flak jacket. Some of those variations looked fresher than others: A long khaki shirtdress with an open vented back was a standout; so was a pale blue minidress with a squared-off top that folded, origamilike, away from the body. Pretty much every coat or jacket Baptista showed was a winner. But even in the weaker looks, you could see the designer's mind working and his ideas progressing. The only place Baptista's rigor really failed him was in his awkward high-waist trousers; plainly put, this was just an ungainly proportion. You could also argue, if you wanted to quibble, that Baptista's approach this season made the collection come off a little, well, academic. But there was just enough sense of romance here to keep that concern at bay.