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Saturday, September 18, 2021

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Altuzarra Spring 2022 Ready-to-Wear

Welcome back, Joseph Altuzarra! It was 2017 when Altuzarra left New York for Paris in a wave of established designers looking for more visibility on the international stage. The pandemic kept him here this season; when it was announced in May that he’d be showing, his return became part of the narrative around a revived NYFW schedule. His show today lived up to that build-up, and then some. Tapping into instincts he described as “eclectic and even a touch escapist” yielded his best collection in years. Being on familiar turf didn’t hurt, either. The hometown crowd gave him a rousing cheer when he came out for a bow.

“It wasn’t easy, especially with the anti-Asian violence,” Altuzarra said of his pandemic experience, echoing a sentiment expressed often this week. “But I felt this intense kinship with New York; I wanted to be part of the rebuilding or rebirth.” He did that by going back to his foundations. The collection started with a reprise, of sorts, reviving the beloved shibori dyeing of his spring 2016 collection on separates and dresses layered with bikini tops in the same richly colored patterns. The difference this time around was the dyeing was done on knits, a growing category for Altuzarra and many others. The same body-loving, but easy-to-wear shapes also came in solids.

Altuzarra said he looked at a treasured book, Charles Fréger’s Wilder Mann, and its photographs of pagan rituals and celebrations of spring, for inspiration. “I responded to the idea of finding magic and wonder and myth in nature. In our everyday life we get bogged down by details and minutiae,” said Altuzarra. What made this collection so compelling was the way he merged everyday relatability with magical, hand-rendered touches: the aforementioned shibori knits, the crochet paneling he added to his sharp tailoring, the floral bundle printing of silk evening dresses that were evocative of customer-favorite bias-cut, charm-trimmed evening dresses from spring 2015.

The spring 2022 favorites, of this editor at least, are the plissé jackets worn with matching skirts, one in gold lamé, the other in a blue marble print. The gold lamé jacket was laced sensually closed in front; it looked dressy but unprecious at once, a combination that feels especially attuned to our time. Bravo.

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