Watching the Anna Sui and Elie Tahari shows back-to back is somewhat akin to twirling successively in place and then trying to walk in a straight line. The former overwhelms the senses, the latter tries to focus them.
Anna Sui’s show was nothing short of a party. Sofia Coppolla was there, and a Jonas brother, but the most well-known faces were the models in the show. Ms. Sui assembled quite the top-model roster, including the model-turned-musician Karen Elson, who opened and closed the show, Arizona Muse, Jessica Stam, and Lindsey Wixson. Their performance was light and flirty. Most of the girls even – gasp! – smiled for the camera pit.
The collection began with bright, strong prints (with matching printed turbans) and ended with vintage dresses that, in another era, would have been accessorized with parasols. But Anna Sui’s accessories were much more current. The girls held iPad and laptop cases, and one model rolled a carry-on suitcase down the catwalk. Apparently, the spring 2012 woman dresses from the forties, even down to the large hats and (Pat McGrath’s) perfect red lip, but still makes sure to keep her technological gadgets fashionable.
Moving from Anna Sui to Elie Tahari was like leaving a nightclub only to realize that it’s dawn, and people are on their way to work. The show itself was much quieter. People who were standing had the chance to grab seats.
The Observer had the chance to talk fashion with blogger Bryan Boy. After mentioning Prabal Gurung and Althuzzara as his favorite collections of the season, he confessed his impatience with prints. “Everybody’s overdoing it. It’s starting to get tedious,” he told The Observer. “It’s time to lean towards the opposite direction.”
Tahari’s collection began with well-tailored blazers with extended hems that were innovative but a bit cold. The models paralleled the seriousness of the clothes with deadpan walks, their hair pulled back in mature low ponytails. Certainly a change from the girls at Anna Sui.
The collection moved from cream and sand businesswear to denim ensembles to marigold dresses and black eveningwear. Gold details – inspired by “the rich past of ancient Egypt,” according to the show’s description — held the collection together. Use of pleats, draped both vertically and zigzag, added just the right amount of texture and fullness to the soft, flowy skirts.
As the show moved through its narrative, we noticed that the models were, like the collection, organized and arranged by their physical appearance, a decision that might work well with clothes but has obvious negative implications when done with people. We wonder if Tahari realizes this. But with a show that tried to yoke together ancient Egypt with the sartorial “hour-glass silhouettes of the 1900s,” we’re not sure if he does.
At least he didn’t use prints.