2010 September 15

Runway Reviews: Bibhu Mohapatra, Jason Wu for TSE, Chris Benz

Bibhu Mohapatra Spring 2011 Bibhu Mohapatra Spring 2011
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Calling Dunaway! The ever-savvy Bibhu Mohapatra delivered a collection that simultaneously looked to the past and celebrated the modern woman. Channeling the spirit of the 1960s in America, Mohapatra drew on inspiration from Faye Dunaway circa The Thomas Crown Affair. The exuberant collection felt animated yet thoroughly sophisticated; pieces like an ecru mousseline cocktail dress with acid dyed lace and tulle pleated panels or a black silk column with hand cut paillettes were jaw-droppingly intricate. Mohapatra explained, “I wanted to represent the true American woman who is strong and really proud of herself and ready to take on any challenge.”

After a particularly well-received eponymous Spring 2011 effort, you can bet everyone in town wants to follow Jason Wu’s every design move. His second capsule collection for TSE explored the idea of illusions and Barnett Newman prints. His cream-colored stitched chiffon yarn dresses and sweaters felt light and stimulating. Wu also intelligently incorporated leathers and primary paint into his beautiful cocktail dresses. It was a very strong exclamation point to his already great week.

“It’s sort of inspired by everyone’s fantasy of being picked up by a handsome man in Paris on a Vespa and cruising off down the Seine,” explained Chris Benz of his Spring 2011 collection. “It’s the American ideal of French chic, but it definitely has that whimsical American twist.” That whimsical American twist has become something of a trademark for Benz, and though this collection he refined his look with the addition of knits (by Loro Piana wool, no less), that quirky girl will definitely still come calling. Box-pleated schoolgirl skirts in sherbet hues, tweedy suits, a below-the-knee, full-skirted dress in cobalt leather—it’s the unexpected, ever-so-slightly off details in a Benz show that are so charming, and this season was full of them.