Richard Chai‘s Spring 2011 women’s show on Thursday was another study in fluid, languid beauty. Nude body-stocking overlays on delicate white, graphite linen blazers draped across gleaming taffeta bandeau tops, indigo-and-gunmetal trench coats over expertly ruched slouching tanks. The concluding chalk-washed gowns were a shot of coquettish urbanity, and its predecessors leaned a bit stronger toward Helmut Lang androgyny. Unexpected sheer panels suggested the playfulness of Chai’s former employer, Marc by Marc Jacobs. The line managed to be infectiously springlike without suggesting a resort collection.
Christian Sirano might’ve peeked through Chai’s sketchbook this summer, because his presentation that afternoon began with a similarly demure approach. White bateau dresses nipped in under light leather woven belts, and ivory shift dresses trailed streams of chiffon scarves. He transitioned abruptly into turquoise-print asymmetrical dresses and then soon enough into his real concentration of rich crimson print dresses (many with his expectedly elaborate gathered hips) and snake-embossed swing jackets.
The metallic skirtsuit was a pleasant surprise, but the collection felt more staid and less inventive than his previous, merrily extravagant gowns. Those had the fascinating aura of being impulsive, eager couture, however much this collection suggested his maturation — and perhaps he knew this as well, because his final two looks were towering, fantastic spectacles of gathered tulle piled wildly up around a single shoulder. All along, models tottered on his towering, architectural, and infinitely uncomfortable Payless Shoes diffusion kicks; the warm applause for Siriano, surely, was also for their triumph against gravity.