Generously embellished frocks and kicky separates are what Alice + Olivia has built a growing business on (fifteen boutiques and counting), but for the brand’s Pre-Fall offering, designer Stacey Bendet was keen to showcase something else: “Everyone knows about our party dressing, but this was about showing our tailoring.” And while high-brow, Helmut Newton-esque androgyny this ain’t, the line’s flirtation with menswear is an agreeable one. Bendet paid homage to her husband’s slacks with a slimmer take on the peg-leg trouser. A blazer and trenchcoat featured a sweeping, feminine peplum and skirt, respectively. A particular standout was a suit in gray pinstriped wool flannel with a peplum top and mannish pants that would have made Katharine Hepburn proud.
There was an emphasis on transitional dressing, not only of the summer-to-fall variety, but also day to night. Catering to the “New York City girl who’s working all day and running around at night,” Bendet outfitted A-line dresses with plunging backs, and teamed them with smart little jackets to be doffed after hours. The va-va-voom factor of an otherwise modest sleeveless black sheath skyrocketed thanks to a decidedly PG-13 slit and a close-fitting ponte knit.
It was an offering largely bereft of A+O’s usual jewel tones, but there was plenty of cream, red, and camel (though the latter was an appropriately “off” camel that bordered on mustard). Lest Bendet’s fan base thinks things are getting too staid, there were girlish bows galore, in intarsia trompe l’oeil or dappling a black pullover, and even a pair of beaded unicorn d’Orsay flats.