Spring brings with it a clean slate. It's a time for rebirth, replenishment, and new beginnings. Liliana Casabal's Spring 2006 Collection for Morgane Le Fay illustrated this message with a flurry of feminine separates. The nearly 60-piece collection, which debuted last Thursday at the Altman Building, had a very cleansing almost purifying feeling of getting in touch with oneself and nature, both literally and figuratively. As I perused the line sheet, I was immediately enchanted by the lovely botanical cover, the designer's lone print for the new season. The serene image is a collage of butterflies, birds, turtles, marigolds, irises, and thistles. Leafing through the pages of credits, I discovered that most of the separates had been named for a flower (Azalea, Begonia, Jasmine, Pansy), a mythological figure (Antigone, Daedalus, Medea, Pegasus), or in the case of fair Andromeda, both. Even the music selection echoed this sentiment as the dulcet tones of Bjork's 'Venus As A Boy' played in the background. The lilting soundtrack with accompanying 60's French vocalists almost had the models skipping on air, as if they were walking through the Tuileries.
Ms. Casabal's palette had a simplified and universal approach; it was predominantly black and white. Only a few seeds of color germinated through the collection with a duet of fiery red pieces and the aforementioned garden print to balance the decidedly monochromatic silhouette. The fabrications employed also seemed to underscore a soft celestial theme with a blend of cotton, crinoline, chiffon, organza, and even feathers. The design elements further accentuated this supernatural air and opened up a Pandora's Box of empire waistlines, shirred yokes, mandarin collars, button loop and tie closures. In a week when we saw waistlines raised and heels lowered, the Morgane Le Fay collection was no exception, where the models wore flat calf-high boots in colors ranging from white, black, and silver to red, yellow, and blue.
According to the company website, the Morgane Le Fay design philosophy is 'quiet, yet dramatic, wistful and lyrical, emotive and profound, complex in its apparent stillness and simplicity.' Ms. Casabal demonstrated this time and time again with her flora and fauna, mythological-influenced presentation. One such pairing was Uranus and Xanthe, a cotton blouse with puffed sleeves and mandarin collar joined a cropped linen pant. Another highlight was a chiffon v-neck dress with shirring along the bodice christened Atlas, in the line's exquisite botanical print. In one of her more asymmetrical and graphic ensembles, Ms. Casabal united Pansy, an intricately seamed, diaphanous long sleeve jersey top, with Cancan, a silk organza ruffled skirt. Another more architecturally inspired design was the 'pinafore meets petticoat' of Thalia and Athos, a cotton voile v-neck dress with an open back and tie closure paired with a crinoline and charmeuse underskirt. My personal favorite was a stunning chiffon gown in siren red with a ruched bodice and tiered skirt called Flamenco. The finale was a whimsically executed pairing of a classic tank (Mars) with a feather skirt (Poseidon).
A very ethereal theme seemed to dominate this season's collections. That mood was translated to hair and makeup as well. For Morgane Le Fay, the hair was soft, shiny, and pin straight. The face focused on a smoldering eye and soft lip, with just a hint of dew-kissed shine along the forehead, nose, and cheeks. There were minimal accessories with a quartet of color coordinated leather bracelets worn on the right wrist. We saw two hemlines emphasized: one just below the knee, the other quite long, almost floor length. Knee length hems achieved greater volume by layering skirts over crinoline or with the accent of a sweet furbelow. The fluidity of longer lengths can be best compared to a flower. They were either slightly a-line and tiered, like the petals of a closed rose or more voluminous as with the fully blossomed ball gowns.
There's a cathartic feeling with this collection, but more than a release, there is the suggestion of a metamorphosis for the Morgane Le Fay woman. She's been hibernating all winter long and is ready to flee from her cocoon like the very butterflies captured in the line's signature print. It's out with the old and in with the new. And if that old adage is true, perhaps the climate shift will act as a catalyst for introspection. Ms. Casabal invites us on this Dionysian journey of self discovery and encourages us to find the goddess-like qualities within us all. Still, the Morgane Le Fay client has an air of mystery to her. She remains strong and confident, while never compromising her femininity. She's somewhat of a chameleon- worldly executive with a poetic flair by day and can-can girl by night. Whatever moniker tickles your fancy, there is a plethora of mythological characteristics waiting to stimulate your senses: Minerva's wisdom, Echo's yearning, Perseus's strength, and Thalia's comedy. Which spirit will inhabit your soul?