Altuzarra Spring 2013 Ready-to-Wear Collection

Joseph Altuzarra has been riding a very high wave. After winning the CFDA Swarovski Award for Womenswear and delivering on that promise with a Fall collection that landed right at the tippy tops of most editors’ best of the season lists, one could only guess that being Joseph Altuzarra these days comes with pressure most mortals would crumble under. Judging by the sustained creativity of each of his collections, by the end you swear he’s given up the last trick in the trove. Not by a longshot it turns out.

There was a time not too long ago, when Altuzarra was pigeonholed alongside the young, hip New York brands – the new member of the established Proenza-Wang club, but it seems that the young designer has wisely side-stepped that downtown “it” girl sensibility shared by his New York compatriots, and latched onto something much more sumptuous – namely, elegance. His parkas from a few seasons back set the precedent for Altuzarra’s steady gain as the king of outerwear, and for Spring he took it upon himself to solve that pesky sartorial problem faced by those who prefer to wear their blazers hanging from their shoulders, by creating unobtrusive arm holes separate from the sleeves.

That’s just one of myriad treasures that abound here – the painstakingly considered, but never cumbersome ornamentation of patterned crystals on dress shirts and coat collars, the minuscule gold fan embellishments paneled on skirts and even on the placket of a black jacket, the trompe l’oeil dresses that look like separates, the first of those a sleeveless collar shirt ending in a dark blue sarong wrap matched with a white knee-grazing printed skirt (it had a side zip for easy come, easy go wearability). That look alone is what work-wear dreams are made of.

And it was particularly exciting to see him meld industrial railroad striped sturdy fabrics with his keen, couture-like tailoring. Even if his stunning closing numbers, imbued in royal cerulean, gold and olive, didn’t break any new ground for the designer (they recalled last season’s Bebar-coin dresses),  his patchy, industrial ensembles recalled absolutely nothing else that’s happening out in the rest of the fashion sphere. The tangible Indian motifs of the final dresses are still beautiful enough to make the most hardened of fashion-minded souls whimper with at least a little satisfaction. Tucked in the layers of draped silk, crystals sparkled in geometric arrangements, and the whole forms came enriched by the sensual sway of all those elegant golden tassles.