New York Fashion Week Fall '13: Another Love Ode to Libertine

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Summary: Libertine is always my most anticipated show of the season. Ever since I discovered Johnson Hartig‘s line when he started showing again in FW11, I’ve been smitten. It’s irreverent, it’s quirky, it’s an explosion of color and texture and, as I see it, it is the work of one of the most unique and individual designers in the US fashion market.
Despite the crystal embroidered skulls throughout, and the tinsel streamers accentuating the skirt of the penultimate look, I actually think that this is one of Hartig’s most controlled, universally wearable (for the record: I do not define that word as synonymous with good fashion design) collections as of late. Although Hartig has traditionally experimented with proportion, many of his separates and dresses were streamlined and tailored, alkalizing some of his more exuberant prints and patterns and mixing them with clean, unfussy hair and makeup looks.
Now, this is not to say Hartig played it safe. Not by a long shot. But there is a thoughtfulness to this collection that seemed more individualized and personal than past collections (like SS13, where many of the garments resembled the paint canvases of contemporary mixed media artists.) I was particularly fond of the second movement of women’s wear, containing a series of black dresses and gorgeous wool coats featuring sparkly geometric embroidery. There was something about it that made it feel like a whimsical reinterpretation of the 1920s (perhaps my favorite type of interpretation and my favorite decade.) Like what Daisy Buchanan would wear if living in the sparkly, pseudo-gothic underworld of the jazz era. The flowing, sheer-paneled shift dresses were gorgeous – beautifully made and just so much fun.
Hartig is a wonderful breath of fresh air for the New York fashion scene. I think he’s generally under-appreciated and I also think he could care less. Regardless, this Fall feels like a new moment for the designer. I am looking forward to a season inspired by his insouciance, and those gorgeous gilded frocks.
Colors: Navy, lime, red, orange, violet, silver, grey, black, white, yellow, blue, burgundy, forest green, wine, pink, seafoam green, tan, bright orange, forest green.
Fabrics and Textures: Silk, knit, beaded, fur, sequins, polka dots, tartan, polka dots, stripes, color blocking, skull embellishment, geometric shapes, tie-dye, sheer, denim, cotton, wool
Key looks: Red, three-quarter length sleeved dress with a beaded skull and geometric shapes; Black, ankle-length sheer dress with a drop-waist and oversized black coat with beaded embroidery; Black, three-quarter length sleeved coat with beaded bronze and gold shapes along the sleeves and front and back panels.
– Amanda Aldinger

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