altuzarra’s fall/winter 17 renaissance rebels

Velvet and pearls joined forces with thigh-high combat boots.

by Alice Newell-Hanson
14 February 2017, 5:00pm

From the waist up, Altuzarra's fall women appeared like English roses. Striding through a set of green topiaried bushes, wearing a shoulder-padded black-and-white check blazer with a velvet collar, or a black wool riding cape trimmed with pearls, they had a hint of 80s pony club princess about them (those puffy velvet headbands!). But the footwear told a different story. Look down and you saw black leather combat boots lacing up to unknown heights beneath pretty floral dresses. In some cases, shorter boots were worn with black opaque tights laddered with telltale holes.

Joseph Altuzarra explained that his inspiration had been European Renaissance paintings, and specifically the moment when artists began rejecting formulaic tropes to portray their subjects as they really were. This season was about "identity," the designer said, and also creating a tension between past and present. The show notes offered another clue, a quote from Lady MacBeth: "Look like th'innocent flower, but be the serpent under't."

Each look was a balancing act of sweetness and toughness, naivety and venom. A fuzzy mohair argyle sweater was cinched by the lace-up bodice of a dress trimmed with rows of metal eyelets. A pantsuit in Beetlejuice stripes was accessorized with both a puffy red headband and a pair of villainous pointed-toe boots. A luminous yellow velvet dress looked so soft you wanted to reach out and touch it, but the model's ruched brown leather gloves suggested things wouldn't end well if you did.

Even beneath the three finale gowns — each embroidered with garlands of flowers, pearls, and gold baubles — those thick-soled black leather boots provided a powerful reminder that every rose has its thorn.


Text Alice Newell-Hanson
Photography Mitchell Sams

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