Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Report Card: Bill Blass

I know I have become predictable when certain names come up but I honestly look at collections before I pass judgment. It's not that I see myself as judge and jury and every collection lives or dies at the whim of my hands. I'll admit a degree of sadistic pleasure I take in watching the parade pass when a clown or trapeze artist is near the back on a stretcher or in some cases in a body cast, but I watch nevertheless, wishing them all well. I even look forward to when they roll back into town. I admit that I count the trailers and tents to see if everyone survived the run of the show. So before I start in on my opinions of Jeffrey Monteiro's first BlassResort collection and grade the cleverness or stupidity of the principals behind the brand, Scott Patti and a cadre of nameless others, I prayed that my premonition would be proven baseless. I'm willing to eat humble pie, no matter how much it makes me choke. I was reminded by way of a request that I should suss out the great talent that exists within the industry and not focus so much on the big names who are so well known to everyone. So with that in mind, I'm taking it alphabetically from the top, Adam should be first and will be included, but this collection stood out from the crowd and gets my attention first. You all can decide for yourselves as I will link you to the complete collection for your own edification.

This collection could not have been an easy one for Monteiro and the people at Blass. The owner, Scott Patti probably had more to lose or gain than his new designer. So many designers have slid between the jaws of this hungry beast only to be ejected from one end or another. Patti had to have approached the market place and press with a certain degree of trepidation. If he didn't, he should have. From the first exit to the last with maybe one or two dresses and a pair of shoes, this Resort 2011 collection of 23 looks was about 2o too many. I looked on in amazement that so little could come from someone posing as a designer and an owner pretending to be in charge.

The dresses were as tentative as a freshman's first muslin in design school. All the usual attempts at artfulness and invention went into this rancid stew with a couple of exceptions. The palette, fabrics and silhouettes were so pedestrian and below the level of what a house like Blass demands, I thought of a teacher I had in elementary school who gave me a P- in math: passing but below grade level. She put a note next to the grade stating that she didn't flunk me solely because she knew I could do better if I chose to. Maybe he could apply himself but if the ruler were in my hands I'd hold him back a year and make him go to summer school.

There was a lovely halter dress, all shirred at the neck in an abstract print (I love bold abstract prints) that had something. There was also a tweedy colored t-shirt of sequins that was also cute and throw away that looked great except for the flesh colored briefs he put with it, which made the model look as though she was wearing panties. That didn't make sense in the house that Blass built. The feeling at this point of the presentation was, the game is reaching the mid point and not one serve has gone in. Still, I sat there wondering if it was a gentle warm up to some heavy artillery to follow.

The first dress like the bodies of most of the shifts were long, lean, devoid of detail beyond elementary princess darts or an asymmetric zipper running up the front, all sleeveless and each forgettable, except for a brush stroke print here or a sandy color cotton something there. It was just like the sophomore class of Virginia Commonwealth University jury show: immature, valiant efforts to find a design voice but with a lot of too much and even more not enough.From a sophomore, that's a good sign, it means they're thinking, but from a professional it means they're thoughtless. That's what I thought looking at wooden jackets that should have been tailored to perfection, no matter the shape or detail. The bodies were generic as were the fabric choices. A Blass customer does not want a cheesy silk/cotton irridescent shantung that looks decidedly ethnic and about 6-10 bucks a yard from a storefront on 37th st between 7th and 8th Ave. , closer to 8th. The fabrics were lifeless, including the pleated and draped lame' chiffon which had been hard pressed and steamed sucking the life out of them. At this point I started to wonder who actually made the samples. The patterns were clearly Butterick or Vogue patterns , but the sewing was even worse except for the 2 or 3 knitted tube tops, bandeaus and panties. All else had been made by sewers in some kind of remedial training program. The lame' numbers at the end of this thankfully brief parade were as metaphorically mixed as all that came before. I didn't expect a gown and am grateful that he didn't attempt one, but the pieces that passed as cocktail were vague and unresolved. The styling of the show was as bereft of attention and funds as the collection itself. I had the impression that they couldn't afford interns (they are normally unpaid) or the services of even the most inexpensive,rookie stylist. The choice of shoes, a lack of any accessories that could have gone a long way to liven up this still born cluster of outfits was all sadly missing. Maybe I over exaggerate but I don't think so.It was as though he skipped the homework and walked into the final exam deciding to wing it. We did that in college sometimes after a night of pitchers of beer and too many bong hits. The last time I tried that stunt was the final for Classical Mythology which I basically skipped the whole term. Writing my name on the cover of the blue book was a challenge, but the real wake up call when I read the first question and then the rest of them and knew I couldn't possibly answer any of them. This time no P- for me, but a nice big F.

I think that showing a Spring collection at Lincoln Center in September is unwise. There is no focus or message here. It may be well intentioned, but so is hell. Scott Patti should take a long hard look at the picture, no matter how sketchy and dim it is. This made Halston look like Haute Couture. He should stick to private label men's shirts or whatever they do over there. He should have given someone like Charles Chang Lima the job. Hell, I'd do it for free for a season or two, just to show him that it can be done. This road he's on will only take him to a very dark and unwelcoming place. Look for yourselves and tell me I'm wrong. With this one out of the way, now onto some collections with life and excitement, at least some hope.


Anonymous said...

"The patterns were clearly Butterick or Vogue patterns..."

Hang on. REALLY? I'm blown away that anyone could be so lazy, they wouldn't even hire a pattern maker. Private label shirts is right. Bye bye Blass.

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