I am very concerned. First it was Richard Chai, and now Joseph Altuzarra has led with a wrap coat that looks suspiciously like a house robe. I don’t see this ending well. While Altuzarra’s coat is made of cashmere with tailoring so excellent it could almost be worn inside out, to those uninitiated it is still going to look like a robe. There will inevitably be those who see someone wearing the Altuzarra coat and automatically think it is now fashionable do wear house robes in public. This is a very disconcerting situation.
What is genuinely exciting about the Altuzarra collection for fall/winter 2014 is the tapestry fabrics hand-loomed in New York. These brightly colored tops and dresses are based on the work of Sheila Hicks, an artist Joseph discovered at Art Basil, Miami. The sheer elegance of the fabric, combined with Altuzarra’s flawless tailoring combine to create a set of genuinely original and amazing clothing. Assuming that each piece continues to be hand-loomed, that means no two pieces are going to be exactly alike. While that certainly raises the price for these pieces considerably, they are more than well worth whatever one pays.
This is a very grown-up, very mature Altuzarra we are seeing in this collection. There are no silly gimmicks, no mindless trend-following. With this collection, Altuzarra crosses the line to stand with heavy-hitters such as Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors. Pay attention to the exquisite cuts of the skirt suits. Notice the detail in the horizontal slits on grey sheaths. Even his color selection is meticulous and well-considered.
I’m hoping this Altuzarra collection sees a serious expansion of its availability in stores. The silhouettes are feminine, the construction is flawless, and one couldn’t ask for garments more wearable. This would be a wonderful time to see the brand spread to a wider variety of fine department stores.
Just stay away from those wrap coats, please.