I hate to be the bearer of bad news: Gold does not go with everything.
Crushing news, I’m sure, but I found myself wishing someone had delivered that tidbit of information to Emilia Wickstead prior to her fall/winter 2014 show this morning. The fashion itself was, for the most part, quite lovely, but her decision to pair gold lame shoes over black knee-high stockings with everything was a critical error that was terribly distracting. To be fair, there were some ensembles given python-print shoes, but the gold lame kept popping up and the contrast to the clothing and other accessories was severe. Worst offense: paired with a set of baby blue gloves.
Designing clothes is something Emilia Wickstead does well and her approach is one I’m sure many designers in the Midwestern United States can appreciate. Her background is as a made-to-measure atelier. She has only been doing full-production ready to wear since 2011. She focuses so completely on the clothes, to wonderful results, that she sometimes loses sight over the overall aesthetic of the collection; a case of not seeing the forest for the trees.
Consider the first five looks coming down the runway this morning. Look one is a lovely black wool dress with fitted wool cap. Look two is a very plain, minimalist, black leather coat with pink gloves. Look three is a darling two-piece set of blue floral brocade on pink silk. Look four introduces us to the very popular oversized python print. Following that was an unadorned white jumpsuit.
Do you see how disconnected the looks are? The only cohesive point is that they all were wearing the same gold lame heels with black socks. Well, one correction there. The model wearing the white jumpsuit apparently forgot her black socks; it was the only look in the show without them.
The problem is not bad designs, although those colored opera gloves had their day in 2009 and are rather boring at this point. Considering each one on its own, the pieces are very well conceived, very well sewn, and largely wearable. The brocades in light blue, girlish pink, and orange gold are very eye catching and work especially well on body-contoured suits and dresses. Ms. Wickstead also makes very good use of the enlarged python prints. Had we seen those pieces grouped together I dare say the response would have been stronger and more positive. Unfortunately, the leather pieces go in such a different, minimalist direction that they almost feel as though they came from a different designer.
At the end of the day, Emilia Wickstead is a very strong and popular brand in Great Britain and her show was very well received by local buyers and editors. Her clothes are well designed and likely to do well at retail. Perhaps she can find someone to assist her with the presentation aspect for next season.