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Narciso Rodriguez's Take on Couture Shapes

It’s the obsessive quality of his work that makes the designer so worthy of his customer.
Narciso Rodriguez Pre-Fall 2016 | Source: Courtesy
By
  • Lauren Sherman

NEW YORK, United States — The front of a navy dress in Narciso Rodriguez's Pre-Fall collection is draped and seamed into what looks almost like a crosshatch. This is not origami for origami's sake. As with much of the designer's work, the detail feels purposeful. Looking at the original sketch of the design, which is now hanging on the wall in Rodriguez's studio, you can begin to imagine what it actually took to achieve. "The pattern piece was so fantastic," the designer said, eying the explosion of pencilled-in panels and darts on paper. "It looks like a starship."

Minimalism that transcends the typical is sort of fantastic. To be able to eke something worth talking about out of straight lines and colour-blocking is a feat. Rodriguez's determination to get things just right allows sensuality to emerge from something that could otherwise turn quite rigid.

This season, he sculpted several pieces into couture-like shapes, like a cropped jacket with a curved neckline, or a round-shoulder overcoat moulded in at the waist, with seams finished on the outside. A fitted tank dress was painstakingly stitched in lines up the front to create more definition. The stitching had the same visual effect of boning in a corset, but without the suffocating restraint. “We spend hours obsessing over things like that,” he said. The designer also did interesting things with wool gabardine, draping it into a dress rather than using it for suiting, and knitted cashmere and viscose to create a textural series of light sweaters.

Rodriguez first made a name for himself in the late 1990s, but has seen ups and downs since. Today, buoyed, in part, by a growing appreciation for quality amongst global consumers, business is good. Sales are up 35 percent year over year. “We’re experiencing a great moment of growth,” he said. “There are women who bank on what I do. After being in business for so long, my group has grown.”

Read Angelo Flaccavento’s review of Narciso Rodriguez’s Spring 2016 collection.

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