Isabel Marant is a designer with a sense of humor. When asked about her Spring 2013 collection a few days ago, she exclaimed "It's ugly!" before launching into a hearty chuckle. It was a disarming outburst, one that left this reporter totally taken aback and, to be honest, totally charmed.
"No no, it's a bit of Elvis in Hawaii, and a bit of Jane Birkin and Brigitte Bardot in St.-Tropez around the late '60s and early '70s," Marant reassured. A few days later as the first model took to the runway and Elvis blared from the speakers at the actual show, those references were utterly clear.
A tropical leaf print in graphic black and white dominated the first looks. It decorated vacation-ready silhouettes such as one-shouldered minidresses, tie-front rompers, and '50s-shaped bandeau swimsuits. A bit of red embroidery helped the pieces to really pop. Then it was on to a boho paisley print in purple, red, and blue; that turned up on bandeau dresses, lace-up peasant tops, and flared trousers. There was also plenty of that modern Western thing that the designer is wont to do and does so well: on first glance, a series of scallop-hemmed tunics and tiered ruffled skirts appeared to be done in a down-home cotton eyelet; on closer inspection, those eyelet dots were actually mini bronze studs. All said and done, it was a lineup that's sure to keep Marant's legion of fans well-outfitted next season — and there was nothing ugly about it.