Narciso Rodriguez Resort 2014

“Very relaxed and easy, but special.” That sounds like a designer at cross-purposes with himself, but Narciso Rodriguez  handled the dueling concepts with aplomb for Resort. They came together beautifully in the collection’s first look, a simple little shift made from raw linen laminated in a diamond pattern, and black satin that was first laser-cut into diamonds and then bonded to chiffon. From afar, the laminated linen glistened in such a way that it looked like sequins. Another dress, constructed from chiffon bonded with a scrolling laser-cut satin motif, could’ve been a newfangled, twenty-first-century lace.

Rodriguez has always loved technically challenging cuts. His tailored jackets have a sleek sensibility that belies their complicated patterns. This season, he really pushed the idea of technologies, too. “I’m considering every detail,” he said. “There’s so much fast fashion out there; I want this to be of the highest quality.” What kept the bonded laser-cut motifs layered over black and white stripes from feeling fussy was the effortlessness of the silhouettes—those uncomplicated shifts, as well as tunics layered over pajama pants, and a strapless dress that fell straight from a silver leather band at the bust to the hem. He paired most looks with pointy-toed flat slides in python or diamond-laminated linen, adding to the collection’s elegantly nonchalant spirit.

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Akris Resort 2014

The Pritzker Prize-winning Mexican architect Luis Barragán inspired Albert Kriemler’s new Resort collection for Akris. Kriemler’s de rigueur photo prints came from Barragán’s famous Cuadra San Cristobal in Mexico City; the pink stucco walls are his stables, the flowering trees his bougainvillea. Currently listed at Christie’s for $12.9 million, the estate’s modernist yet lush style is a good fit for Kriemler, who has branded Akris with a sleek sort of über-luxe.

Beyond the vivid color palette—all fuchsia and azure blue—Kriemler’s other big obsession this season was fabric development: a wool suit made with 10 percent polyester so it doesn’t wrinkle. A double-face wool coat as fine as cashmere, but not as delicate (“which makes it sportier,” he said); and a leather tunic cut so thin it moves like silk. Innovations like that keep the Akris customer coming back for more. The most compelling material he used was a black stretch denim, which looked positively elegant cut into an hour glass sheath with sheer tulle shoulders. Kriemler promised its below-the-knee length was a teaser of what’s to come for Spring ’14.

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Atto Resort 2014

The Paris-based Dossena hails from Balenciaga, and his debut offering shares a sensibility with Nicolas Ghesquière. Dossena likes fabrics with a dry hand (spongy red wool jersey, marled gray wool gabardine from Japan, cotton knits with 1 or 2 percent stretch) and crisp, precise cuts. A slim-fitting three-button suit jacket with high armholes and narrow sleeves was belted high above the waist, and a sleeveless pop-over top was distinguished by its angular bib-like hemline. Both pieces had a mod, sixties-ish feel.

But if mod connotes cool, there was no lack of heat in the lineup. The side seams of one skirt were split nearly to the hip, and apron dresses exposed not-so-subtle flashes of ribs. Dossena proposed a clingy silver sequined turtleneck as a layering piece for many of the looks. He also has a luscious sense of color and is unafraid to mix and match. A navy-and-yellow stretch knit dress is sure to be a hot item at The Webster in Miami, which will stock the new line.

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Alexander McQueen Resort 2014

The most striking image of Alexander McQueen’s Fall collection was the gilded, caged face. You could read a book into that, just like you could interpret McQueen’s Resort collection as a release for Sarah Burton. There was something so free and organic about the clothing and accessories that it was almost as though Burton had become a lady of the canyon…Laurel Canyon,
that is. Early on in the genesis of the collection, Corinne Day’s photos of Kate Moss in an American Indian headdress had caught someone’s eye. Carefree, vibrant youth—that was the spirit Burton sought. The fact that she managed to wire it to a classic McQueen trope like Travis Banton’s hyper-waisted 1930s silhouette was a pretty accurate gauge of how effectively she has twisted the signatures she inherited.

It was actually the forties that snared Burton’s imagination, particularly the clothes that working women wore while their men were at war. Collections often start somewhere like that and then career off somewhere else, and this one was no exception. Still, the little dresses in a canvas cotton with their dungaree straps and unfinished seams had a sturdy Rosie the Riveter feel. Even so, under the canvas skirt were seven layers of broderie anglaise petticoats. This will always be the strange, effortful world of McQueen, where denims are patchworked together from 11 different washes and every single crocheted, brocaded, floral-ed, butterflied, broderie anglaise-ed scrap in a patchworked evening dress has been specially created. Meaning that, for Burton, release comes one look at a time.

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