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Rebecca Taylor Spring 2013 Show — Hawaii Meets Aldersgate

In an act of fashion serendipity, while Mara Hoffman was at Lincoln Center showcasing her “Aloha” collection, New Zealand-bred designer Rebecca Taylor stood backstage at the Highline Stages in New York City’s meatpacking district, unveiling her own Hawaii-inspired Spring 2013 collection. While both women approached Hawaii as their muse, their respective interpretations of the Pacific island destination couldn’t have been more divergent, with Hoffman presenting a colorful array of prints referencing everything from medicine wheels to tribal shields and Taylor going a more demure route, relying on an oceanic palette of cobalt, sky blue, azure, turquoise, and dark navy peppered with hints of sandy nude and muted coral, as well as ladylike lilac and lavender shades.

Known for her ladylike but youthful designs, Taylor incorporated hibiscus flower prints into many of her garments as a reference to Hawaii (the yellow version of this blossom is the state’s official flower), but she did so in prim lilac and lavender tones befitting of a tea party, shrinking the size of the print to ensure it didn’t appear gimmick-y or costume-like. Exquisite ultramarine silk and chiffon pieces ranging from long-sleeved frocks to slouchy pajama-style pants, meanwhile, were emblazoned with a larger floral print displaying exotic flowers in tonal shades of light aqua, powder blue, periwinkle and cornflower, the garments’ monochromatic nature making onlookers feel as if they were regarding flowers at the bottom of the ocean. And, in keeping with the breezy beachy theme, Taylor even bleached-out her acid-wash denim pieces to give them a softer edge, a foamier color reminiscent of crashing ocean waves.

And while floral motifs and an aquatic color palette grounded Taylor’s collection in the Pacific, the silhouettes she created transported us  from Honolulu to Tokyo, thanks to the addition of traditional obi belts on some of her acid wash denim pieces (including a faux wrap-around dress with a V-shaped neckline), then to Turkey via the use of loose-fitting harem pants, and back to the Western hemisphere where pops of leather, understated peplum hemlines, jumpsuits with jewel-encrusted straps, and trousers with varsity-esque vertical stripes along the side seams references some of the trends in contemporary urban America. A classy pair of dark blue shorts, for instance, was paired with a leather halter top featuring a floral print along the side panels and a slightly flared, peplum-like waistline, creating a melting point of not only cultural sensibilities but also textural ones, with hard and soft in a constant symbiotic space. Similarly, a pair of cream-colored lacks incorporated tuxedo-style navy stripes along the sides, running vertically from the waist to the ankle, and were paired with a layered blue top featuring sequined embroidery resembling a Magellan astronomy model. Even a short-sleeved periwinkle dress cross-referenced cultural motifs by including a triangle-shaped mesh detail below the rounded neckline for a hint of scuba flavor and a the high-low  skirt hemline for a very modern and cosmopolitan emphasis on asymmetry and geometry.

True to its island inspiration, the collection boasted the type of exquisite tailoring that accentuated the female form without feeling constrictive or rigid: shorts were roomy and breezy, blouses lightweight or even sheer, and dresses fluid and incorporating skin-baring cut-outs and up-to-there slits. But, since Taylor doesn’t simply do “sexy” or “prim,” she made sure to incorporate some rough-and-tough elements — from the severe stiletto heels to the hardware details on some of the biker jackets, thereby adding a distinctive edginess to the collection that made it relatable to the downtown girls that constitute such a large percentage of her clientele.     — STORY BY CELIA SAN MIGUEL; REPORTING BY IZZY RUIZ

 

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