Gary Bigeni's evening presentation was a definite highlight last night and, indeed, of the shows so far. The show notes described this collection as fearless, "because she likes to surprise with colour, fabric and silhouette". This was certainly true of Bigeni's Owned collection for Spring Summer 2015-16, in which the pieces were inherently wearable, but with plenty of surprising details to pique your interest. Concise and considered, it featured beautiful Italian and Japanese cottons that were both heavy duty and also effortlessly lightweight.
Known for his use of drape, Bigeni maximised the element of surprise by draping with slightly heavier fabrics this season and reimagining the typical apron through use of silhouette for a modern workwear setting. This is where his collection title Owned was particularly poignant; perhaps a tongue-in-cheek reference to contemporary female empowerment. Certainly, there was a feeling of nineteenth century women meets modern femininity. A sense of classicism converging with the new.
There was subtle deconstruction at play in the clothing details. Open back shirt dresses called to mind a more elegant take on hospital gowns, while the aforementioned apron vibe was also strong throughout. It was utilitarian and at the same time embellished. Structured, yet fluid. This delicate interplay between form and function was carried right throughout. Gladiator sandals and the abundance of wrap skirts reinforced the utilitarian aesthetic, while fluted skirts and pops of vibrant cobalt blue gave things a feminine twist. That same blue hue was swiped across models' eyelids and each of them also had a delicate septum piercing in place, reinforcing a subtle kind of strength.
Sheer panels cropped up too - a theme that we have seen at a number of shows so far this year. Here, sleeves and pant legs were rendered in sheer fabrications that lent a sort of peekaboo sensibility. Meanwhile, the wrap was a running motif, not just with the skirts but also with models all wrapped up in karate-style belts. Crisp shirting was a bit deconstructed, while a specialty black and white fabrication used on everything from tops to skirt panels was reminiscent of the papier-mâché creations of our childhood. This sense of nostalgia was also present in some of the striped separates that called to mind a more stiff, grown up version of sleepwear for the everyday.
Gary Bigeni's woman is as multifaceted as the designer himself. The clothing this season was primarily wearable, but also impeccable in terms of detail. Models strode the runway in flat sandals - the pinnacle of comfort - but the effortless draping at work elevated pieces to a place of pure desirability. Ageless, but also inherently of the now. Garments were designed to work both as standalone separates, as well as part of a whole. Overall, it was a comprehensive approach to the wardrobe of today and we're all for it. After several years' hiatus from MBFWA, it was refreshing to see Gary Bigeni back on-schedule and with a reinvented approach to his signature draping. From jersey to cotton, the materials may have evolved, but the spirit is still very much alive.
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