With this collection, shown at Doubles, the supper club in the Sherry-Netherland, Mr. Maxwell has effectively seized the uptown ground once owned by Jason Wu, who seems to have entirely lost direction, detouring between striped cotton suiting here, haute bohemia there and a selection of Martha Graham-meets-Madame Grès dance dresses.
And there was the safe option; the one that did not insist too much. Victoria Beckham, for example, who said she had consciously decided to avoid showpieces in favor of “clothes I want to wear now,” which meant a combination of the strong (broad-shouldered Holmesian plaid shirting) and the soft (sheer organzas layered atop striped sheaths in minty shades).
Or Brock Collection, with its lacy milkmaids-at-the-Petit Trianon cherry-print frocks, rough linens and Watteau florals. They had a quiet appeal, if not a visceral currency.
Which is what made another show in Bushwick, Eckhaus Latta, worth seeing. Held, coincidentally, in a site across the street from the Wang Fest, a “space for engaging conversations and collaborations across creative disciplines,” according to the program (which is also a pretty good description of the six-year-old label designed by Zoe Latta and Mike Eckhaus), it felt worlds away.
Not because it was escapist, but because it wasn’t. Because the clothes, which are a kind of petri dish of associative splicing, grapple honestly with what is on the designers’ minds: questions of gender and difference and the details of fallible beauty framed in low-slung trousers and shirts cropped and tailored to the navel, knit slip dresses trailing streamers from seams; and a stretch cardigan unbuttoned to expose a very pregnant belly.
“We are here and we have no way to know what tomorrow smells like,” went a line of the prose poem in the program. Um, right.
It was abstruse but weirdly true. Just like the refrain, “Come again,” that showed up the next morning on shorts and shopping bags and the back of sweats at a notably good Public School show (Maxwell Anderson and Dao-Yi Chow can do more with a plaid shirt, a nylon anorak and a luggage strap than you’d ever imagine).
Though perhaps adding a question mark to the end of the phrase would make it even more fitting.