Antonio Berardi started off this morning in London perhaps a little earlier than I might have liked. My body is still set on Indianapolis time and a 9:00 AM runway presentation, which is rather early even by London standards, means rolling out of bed two hours earlier. That translates to 2:00 AM Indianapolis time. Even with three cups of coffee in me, I’m finding it rather difficult to be pleasant, despite Berardi’s generous use of color.
Color is a good thing after his all-white collection last season. The colors are not single-palette. He runs from very soft pastels to very deep blues. His color use makes sense, though, and that’s not always been something I can say about a Berardo collection.
We’ve not actually reviewed a Berardi collection in a couple of years. I have a rule that if I can’t find at least a couple of nice things to say about a collection I keep my big mouth shut. There are exceptions to that rule, of course, but in Berardi’s case it seemed appropriate. What has happened over the past two years is that Berardi has become more ready-to-wear friendly. Yes, there are still a few gowns in this collection, but the majority of what we saw this morning is actually wearable, or at least, potentially so. He still goes a bit heavy on the sparkles, but in some cases, such as knee-high boots with embroidered fronts, the sparkle is a style choice, not something with which one is stuck when buying the dress.
Berardi also seems to have a good grasp on the full and flowing trend we’ve seen in London. The collection is especially full of bouffon sleeves and when he uses them with otherwise trim silhouettes they do a lot for making the look feel softer and more summery. We also see that fullness applied to baby doll dresses and A-frame designs with asymmetrical hems. These are the pieces that seem most accessible and pleasant.
There are also a number of masculine tailored suits in this collection. Berardi really seems to like that trim, well-fitted look, which is understandable. Where he keeps those silhouettes clean, the looks are outstanding. However, there are several times where he frays the seams on the sides of the pants. Everything else on the look is nice and sharp, mind you, but those side seams look undone. I can’t say I am a fan of the look.
Berardi has other moments where it feels as though he has gone just a touch too far: peplum where there doesn’t need to be peplum, for example, or fringed cuffs that are bound together in the back. I really have no idea where he was going with that latter look. I get that the collection is a study in the juxtaposition of restriction and freedom, but compared to the rest of the collection that particular touch seems a bit too far.
Still, even with its occasional shortcomings, this is definitely the strongest Antonio Berardi collection we’ve seen. The collection, and perhaps the designer, has matured and the result is a collection with great potential.