Imagine if Joseph Altuzarra’s shows had the production budget of a big French house behind them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like the boy’s running on gruel but this collection has such a edge that it starts one fantasising about the machinations of a big French house that would have preened and sharpened the elements of the looks and production to the point that this would have been hailed as a triumph for some monogrammed company or other. But hurrah, Joseph is his own man and we get to watch his whole journey from scratch – we’re in what, just his fifth season? – he’ll ascend to the big-time, he’s halfway there….
For this collection Altuzarra referred to cartoon character Corto Maltese as inspiration – hello sailor – a suave, seafaring fictional character who wore razor sculpted, turn of the C19th military coats busy with big golden buttons. Tall, svelte, handsome, it’s fun for women to play dress up with his silhouette. That’s the key to Altuzarra sex appeal; it’s not subservient but on an equal par with men, able to blur the lines.
Corto Maltese takes us on a journey: layers of silver coins heaped upon Russian folk dress, swathes of touches from Eastern European gypsy attire, all matched with a selection of maritime pea coats. The long tassles hanging from the thigh high black leather boots were deliciously flirty (I look forward to seeing these swing from the legs of ladies stepping out of cars at The Westin or The Bristol, Paris). The blend of low-slung cargo pants over said boots, topped by thick Shetland knits was an interesting proposal worth a ponder.
As ever, the near bionic tailoring in Altuzarra’s clothing was the primary element, accentuated by design details; check the pencil skirts with bondage detailing to get those hips oozing, towards the end of the collection. But it’s always about hips, cinched waistline and shoulders with this French-American designer, his design turns the female form into a sleek race-track that you want to reach out and trace, drawn by the allure of the clearly luxurious materials from which he chooses to cut his clipped skirts. I think that’s praise enough for one review.
- Sarah Hay