NEW YORK, United States — After his show on Tuesday, Narciso Rodriguez was mulling over a conundrum that confronts a designer like him. In an era when the window dressing of the fashion industry draws the most attention — who’s where wearing what? — Rodriguez is an outsider. He’s neither a showman nor a social media harlot, and he worries no one is looking at the actual clothes anymore. His response? Create clothes you can’t look away from.
At least, that’s what he did on Tuesday night, when he showed a collection that was a highly charged confrontation between rough and smooth, casual and polished. Like the chunky handknits that sloped off over little bias-cut silk skirts, or the plissé wool pieces, like water through sand, again paired with silk under things, or the voluminous coats that floated over sinuous dresses, again cut on the bias.
Rodriguez’s signature is an architectural precision. And there were still points and angles and softly sculpted volumes in his new collection. His other signature has been his knack for implying the sinuous movement of the female form underneath the precision, which has sparked his work with a slyly sublimated eroticism. In this collection, it wasn’t so sly. There was an energy, an urgency that was more full-on than usual, helped along by Frederic Sanchez’s pounding tribal soundtrack. It held all the promise of a pagan rite waiting in the wings, though it was actually a remix of a Masters of Work track from the early 1990s that put Rodriguez in mind of his clubbing days, a joyous time in his life which he wanted to remind himself of. Because, he insisted, he is in the same state of mind now. “I love where I am in my life,” he enthused.
And that was why his new collection just let go. After the restraint, the release, from the moment the first crumpled, wrapped coat stepped onto the catwalk, to the almost-last undulating sliver of shimmering velvet.