NYFW: PAMELLA ROLAND F/W 2014

Imagine presenting a fashion show and no one paying any attention. That may be a bit how designer Pamella Roland is feeling this morning. The scheduling deities were working against her this season, putting her in the same hour as both MM6, which got the attention of the younger crowd, and Oscar de la Renta, which got the attention of … everyone. As a result, there was a scarcity of celebrity on the front row, and an obvious absence of mention among fashion’s main press (sorry, the dribble in USA Today doesn’t count).

Such a response is especially sad given Roland’s deep commitment to producing quality clothing. I’m not sure any New York-based designer puts in as much hands-on time with their collection as she does. Similarly, one would be hard pressed to find one more versed in matters of contemporary American art. For pete’s sake, the woman is Vice President of the Board of Trustees for the Whitney Museum of American Art! Let’s consider for a moment that maybe, just maybe, the lady not only knows what she’s doing, but is really, really, really good at it.

This season, Roland is looking around her own backyard for inspiration, and it appears she found plenty of it. Based largely on the work of Union Square artist TJ Wilcox, Roland takes on New York and its 1930s art deco architecture as the theme for her fall/winter 2014 collection. As a result, we see some strong lines both in her silhouettes and in her prints. This is a very graphic collection that, while boxy at times, is very feminine, very sexy and, like the city itself, full of glitz.

All the looks are foundationally strong. Where Ms. Roland may have stubbed her toe, though, is on the sparkle. There was hardly a piece coming down the catwalk that wasn’t twinkling under the bright lights. Some pieces have so many sequins they should come with a box of sunglasses to hand out to anyone standing nearby.

On one hand, all that glitter isn’t a bad thing. The pieces are beautiful, thought provoking and memorable. On the other hand, though, there’s nothing here, with the possible exception of a couple of dresses early on, that one can wear before 5. Even the pants/blouse separates are too glitzy for day wear. While there may be a party every night in New York, most people outside the city just don’t need that many sequins in their lives.

Roland’s desire to capture the attention of red carpet walkers was also abundantly evident. The gowns didn’t start until just over half-way through the collection, but once they started it seemed as though the parade was never going to stop! This is a tremendously large collection and knowing how much time Roland personally gives to each of her designs I can only imagine how totally exhausted she must be at this point.

Seeing so many gowns in a row may actually keep her from her goal, however. There is a limit to the amount of lame`, satin, Lurex, fringe, and sequins the mind can comprehend at once and I fear this collection may have exceeded that limit … by a lot. After a couple of minutes, all the gowns rather began to look alike, which is a misinterpretation of the worst sort. The gowns are not alike, but I fear that’s the impression too many people took from the show.

Pamella Roland’s F/W 2014 collection is a strong one and a fitting tribute to the city she loves. Let’s just hope buyers start paying attention.

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