Richard Chai Love Ready To Wear Spring Summer 2014 New York

As the first official show day of New York Fashion Week kicks off, industry insiders are still in high spirits after their summer breaks. Decades’ Cameron Silver shone in a bright suit while blogger Bryanboy and Diesel’s new top dog Nicola Formichetti chatted in the front row waiting for Richard Chai’s summer ‘14 show.

After last season’s disciplinarian approach, it seems that Chai has mellowed out for the new season. After all, even the sharpest army gets some furlough. Yet, relaxing doesn’t mean slouching, as he leaned towards layered tailored separates. The New York native’s collection was a play on summer’s crisp combinations, opening with a pristine white trio of a sleeveless jacket, pencil skirt, and cotton/nylon striped trousers.

The collection was infused with a city-slicked lightness that never came across as ethereal, but rather grounded and well aware of today’s love for layering. Ease came across as an overall impression, and made good use of his eye for structure: there was nothing random about the pleats flowing down from a dress’s bodice and into its skirt, nor was there room for approximation in the junction between a tailored coat and its trompe-l’oeil flowing skirt. His color scheme sustained an impression of freshness, from poppy reds to blues that evolved from tonal to bold stripes, to a pretty as anything poppy print on a geometric blue background. Only when it became a patchwork of aqua prints did it become a shade too muddled.

His leather pieces, the first peeks at his upcoming spring ‘14 designs for retailer Andrew Marc, looked particularly sharp with geometric quilting running up sleeves. Elsewhere, that city-savvy came across in darker shades, as Chai moved away from summer whites. A fitted midriff-baring tank paired with crisp wide-legged trousers is the perfect combination to wear on a hot summer night, in the city or elsewhere.

The menswear saw Chai continuing his mixes of classic cottons with technical fabrics, already present for LOVE. In terms of look, none of it broke too far away from the classic aesthetic he was aiming for. A short suit looked impeccable in its light blues and whites, as did a more urban dark sleeveless top paired with flowing light trousers. Russet gold and black gave it a lick of sophistication. It spoke of relaxing, not letting oneself go. Definitely not outlandish, but this is sure to charm any man looking for classic garments at the outskirts of the beaten track.

- Lily Templeton

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