VPL Ready To Wear Spring Summer 2013 New York

The VPL woman—not girl—is one who’s not afraid to show off, in the most natural of ways, the results of years of mental and physical conditioning. “VPL has a core: the body,” said Victoria Bartlett. And in a continuing celebration of that—coupled with the recent London Olympic games—Bartlett found her starting point for spring.

Motion, muscularity and performance fabrics laid the foundation for a VPL collection that went beyond the typical “let’s celebrate the body” catchphrase. Yes, there was athleticism to be had, but also a touch of tribal. “Harnessing and holding and released,” Bartlett said rather emphatically post-show. “Velocity!” And while human kinesiology and musculature are great in concept, in reality the saleable product was grounded with art motifs drawn straight from the work of Gerhard Richter—specifically, his oversized screen prints and large linear streaks.

Color was also a key element for Bartlett this season, as witnessed by the hints of burnt orange, lilac and mint green. “I usually just do nudes,” Bartlett said of her palette. “But this season we infused color, but softened them to be presented in a modernistic way.”

The dichotomy of restriction and extension in the collection captured physical exertion in its finest form: sequined shoulders, sculpted jackets, structured chest plates that glistened like armor and voluminous fabrics that illustrated rapid movement. “Like second skin,” said Bartlett. The conclusion—a unified series of garments all worn under sheer overalls—was a direct nod to the factory uniforms of yesteryear. “Nuclear meltdowns,” she specified.

- Jim Shi