I was a little concerned, having watched David Koma the past few seasons, that the Russian-born designer might have backed himself into a minimalist corner. His previous two seasons, especially, contained too many of the same silhouettes with the same cutouts and the same fabric (leather) in the same colors (black and white). I was hoping that he would at least broaden his color palette a bit. What he actually did, thank goodness, was much more.

This is an infinitely softer David Koma collection than we’ve seen previously. Yes, the looks are still highly structured along architectural lines, but instead of a world of leather what we get are carefully handled softer materials that actually move with the body wearing them. I was especially fascinated with delicately constructed ridges sewn into the fabric of some of the first few ensembles. These were all new silhouettes for David, still tight-fitting and carefully tailored to be sure, but a different set of straight lines and careful folds from what we’ve seen before. Quite thankfully, his cutouts are not only different and more imaginative, he also gives them sheer backings to keep the openings from losing their carefully constructed shape.

Okay, there is still a lot of black and white here, to be sure. Yet, we don’t see the monochrome look that has dominated the past few seasons. Instead, from the very beginning, he provides strips and blocks of gently contrasting color, yellow to go with the white, blue to go with the black. There are also times when he lets the contrasting color dominate. As a result, the collection as a whole is much more visually appealing.

Biggest surprises in this era of new softness? One would have to be the inclusion of sheer materials, especially in some of his skirts. While this has been a trending element for several other designers for a couple of seasons, it’s a fresh look for David and one he handles surprising well. I was very impressed with how his geometric cut outs flow into the open expanse of a sheer skirt, rather like a river  flowing into its delta. Softer fabrics are a big change as well and the inclusion of silk and sateen put an exclamation mark on pieces toward the end of the collection.

Hands down, though, the biggest surprise  from Koma is sequins. Not just any sequins, but sequins with color gradients! This is a dramatic shift from previous seasons and one that was received extremely well by the audience in attendance this evening. This may also be the only negative point also, however. While it was fun seeing such a different look from David, he uses it on so many pieces in such similar ways that after four or five ensembles they started looking a bit too much like outfits designed for a high-end show choir. There can be too much of a good thing.

David Koma has really embraced some wonderful new creativity with this collection and breathed new life into this spring/summer 2015 line that should serve him well when they hit retail stores this fall. Certainly, this is much more appealing for the season than all that leather.

Photo credit: Gio Staiano

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