If there were ever any question whether Richard Chai incorporates his personal style tastes into his designs, it was answered at the end of this morning’s show when the designer stepped out to take his bow wearing a jacket tied around his waist, a touch we saw frequently in the men’s pieces of this spring/summer 2015 collection. While the LOVE line started as a contemporary women’s counterpart to Chai’s men’s collection, the two have become increasingly integrated to the point that one is just as prevalent as the other this season, and both deserve some attention.
What one notices first in this collection is the very, very, very bright yellow touches Chai uses for the initial pieces. Fortunately for our eyes, he did not present a full outfit in the color; if he had we most certainly would be blind. Wisely, they are pieces in a very layered collection: a jacket here, a shirt there, a skirt, a pair of shorts, the design on a shoe. Yet, the yellow is so obnoxiously obtrusive that it jumps out from whatever else has been paired with it, slaps one in the face a couple of times, and then dares you to say anything. If a color can come with attitude, this is it.
Asymmetry at the bottom is another theme that is almost ubiquitous in both the mens and womens styles. After all, who wants a dull, straight line any more? With men, Chai achieves this unevenness most often with that aforementioned jacket tied around the waist. While personally I am not a fan of the look (it too often is worn improperly and comes off looking more sloppy than not), if the designer can teach young men to wear the look the way he’s presented it here I might be willing to change my mind. For the women, Chai most frequently uses layering to achieve the asymmetrical effect. I prefer this approach as it gives the wearer more choices as to just how much off kilter they want to look.
Men’s looks are very hip, laid back, with a casual coolness that lets trouble roll like water off a duck’s back. One gets the impression that nothing short of a punch to the face bothers these guys. Women’s looks are much, much, more soft, however, with satin and sheer in layers that flow and billow. Even the peplum is soft and bouncy, more like a large ruffle.
Minus that eye-searing yellow at the beginning, the palette is actually rather quiet, filled with earth tones, highlighted with a royal blue. A deep red makes an appearance toward the end, but it is much more subtle and blends in where the blue pops and grabs one’s attention.
There’s most likely a practical age limit to this collection, at least in the men’s wear. The casual layering on the women’s side makes it quite accessible to everyone, but the shorts and narrow tapers in the men’s wear definitely prefer a younger body.
Richard Chai’s popularity only continues to grow and he could well be one of fashion’s new superstars with collections like this.
Photo credit: Valerio Mezzanotti