designers Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin like a formidable woman. That's reflected in the muses they choose—last season, Georgia O'Keeffe, and this one, Cuban American artist Ana Mendieta—and it's expressed through their clothes, which convey a distinctively feminine force. For Spring, the CFDA/Vogue
Fashion Fund-nominated duo opted for a less earthy mien than they did last time, emphasizing evanescent fabrics like tulle and lace, and working in a dreamy palette of cream, sand tones, rose, mauve, and pink. But the
earth-goddess vibe fast emerging as a brand signature was still in play—witness the cape-shouldered dress done in Madame Grès pleats, which looked fit for Diana the Huntress, or the caftan gown embroidered in a Mendieta motif. Even the more gamine looks carried the tone, thanks to Martin and Lobo's muscular way of working with their shapes. A pale-pink V-neck dress, for instance, appeared to have been sculpted by the designers just grabbing handfuls of fabric and making soft pleats. A standout cream-colored slipdress likewise gave an impression of having been roughed together, though in fact Lobo and Martin had left absolutely nothing about the look to chance. Meanwhile, texture was another distinguishing element: The Mme Grès pleats, the embroideries, the lightweight coated cotton of the macs, and especially the surprisingly delicate tweed all served to give the collection warmth. In a way that's difficult to put into words, the clothes felt real.
Like the women Lobo and Martin intend to have wear them.