In a season when most designers looked to the early-to-mid 1900s for inspiration, Alexandre Herchcovitch time traveled centuries all the way back to medieval Europe. Remaining true to his vision and thumbing his nose at those who critiqued his spring 2006 collection as being out of step with the 'minimalist moment', he burst from the gate with a wildly austere collection for fall 2006. What else could be expected from a man who has experimented with latex in his pre't-a-porter? From someone who began his career alternately dressing his mother's society friends and the transvestites of his native Sao Paulo? Surely nothing less than the continuation of his march to the beat of his own drum.
Herchcovitch has long been recognized as a master of contrast, a skill cultivated during his Brazilian youth, when he moved comfortably between the orthodox Jewish school he attended by day and the alternative clubs he frequented by night. Herchcovitch's deftness at incorporating unorthodox combinations was particularly evident in this runway presentation, where he contrasted tough (taut black leather) with tender (fluttering technicolor). This hard/soft mix in seemed to be an homage to the warrior within every 'girly girl', or perhaps the feminine within the warrior. The severe, Renaissance-inspired clothing was witchlike at times, but always tempered with the sexy (an empire-waisted bustier dress) and the pretty (the floral printed skirts).
Herchcovitch's trademark skulls were everywhere: stitched onto the flags lining the runway and emblazoned onto the buckles of the prominently featured belts. Pleasantly surprising was the proliferation of button-like rosettes (which, coincidentally, were very popular among envelope-pushing designers for fall 2006). These subtly sweet accents were found on hems, sleeves and even hoods. On one particularly incredible piece, a hooded caplet that referenced a medieval knight's chain mail headdress, rosettes covered the hood and trim in tones that exactly matched the underlying printed fabric.
The skirts shown were softer takes on the 'tulip' silhouette that has recently re-emerged in popularity, and were cut in varying lengths and colors of airy fabric. The effect was at once ethereal and structured, highlighting both the subtle whispering of the fabric and the strong movement of the woman's legs.
Photos courtesy style.com
The pants all followed the slim, high waisted trend all rocker thin, with cigarette legs. By invoking rock n' roll and Renaissance, I fear I may be conjuring images of the early '80s 'New Romantics', but there was nothing gimmicky or pseudo about the designs, nor the presentation. The pieces, when shown together on the runway were stunning, but when separated will be manna for shoppers and stylists seeking statement pieces.
The mood of the show was set by the music, a sort of primal scream, which segued into austere ambient and closed with Latin party music. The idea behind the clothes mirrored this one may be slightly 'jolted' at first, then enraptured by the stark decadence of the clothes, finally realizing the fun, the tongue-in-cheek attitude that went into the production and presentation of the clothes.