VPL Fall 2011: Rubber Extras and a Whole Lotta Latex

Victoria Bartlett's sporty urban armor has always maintained a devoted following among the fashion flock, and it's interesting to observe how she never ventures far from the sports-bra-and-knickers look that's earned her accolades. If it isn't broke, after all... There were plenty of wrapped, draped, and architecturally folded looks at today's Pier 59 show to keep Barlett's fans happy--and, perhaps, win her a few new followers as well. Cast in a palette of pale grey, light sand, and deep khaki, the fuzzy knits, paneled leggings, and diagonally-twisted dresses clung to the model's forms in a way that looked body-conscious but never cheaply sexy. The "interplay of aggressive and soft" for which the designer was aiming came through via clear focus on the shoulder; zipped-up wool jackets, bandage dresses, and even soft cardigans were accented with tucks and peaks at the upper arm. Bartlett had cited a number of artists as her inspiration, from Piero Manzoni to Man Ray to Joseph Beuys, and many of these looks would qualify as bona fide works of art themselves. This was particularly true of the closing numbers--convex, wire-supported shrugs, peplum belts, and vests emphasized the torso's angles and curves, while nude-hued latex bodysuits and tanks almost disappeared into the body.
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Victoria Bartlett's sporty urban armor has always maintained a devoted following among the fashion flock, and it's interesting to observe how she never ventures far from the sports-bra-and-knickers look that's earned her accolades. If it isn't broke, after all... There were plenty of wrapped, draped, and architecturally folded looks at today's Pier 59 show to keep Barlett's fans happy--and, perhaps, win her a few new followers as well. Cast in a palette of pale grey, light sand, and deep khaki, the fuzzy knits, paneled leggings, and diagonally-twisted dresses clung to the model's forms in a way that looked body-conscious but never cheaply sexy. The "interplay of aggressive and soft" for which the designer was aiming came through via clear focus on the shoulder; zipped-up wool jackets, bandage dresses, and even soft cardigans were accented with tucks and peaks at the upper arm. Bartlett had cited a number of artists as her inspiration, from Piero Manzoni to Man Ray to Joseph Beuys, and many of these looks would qualify as bona fide works of art themselves. This was particularly true of the closing numbers--convex, wire-supported shrugs, peplum belts, and vests emphasized the torso's angles and curves, while nude-hued latex bodysuits and tanks almost disappeared into the body.
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Victoria Bartlett's sporty urban armor has always maintained a devoted following among the fashion flock, and it's interesting to observe how she never ventures far from the sports-bra-and-knickers look that's earned her accolades. If it isn't broke, after all...

There were plenty of wrapped, draped, and architecturally folded looks at today's Pier 59 show to keep Barlett's fans happy--and, perhaps, win her a few new followers as well. Cast in a palette of pale grey, light sand, and deep khaki, the fuzzy knits, paneled leggings, and diagonally-twisted dresses clung to the model's forms in a way that looked body-conscious but never cheaply sexy. The "interplay of aggressive and soft" for which the designer was aiming came through via clear focus on the shoulder; zipped-up wool jackets, bandage dresses, and even soft cardigans were accented with tucks and peaks at the upper arm. Bartlett had cited a number of artists as her inspiration, from Piero Manzoni to Man Ray to Joseph Beuys, and many of these looks would qualify as bona fide works of art themselves. This was particularly true of the closing numbers--convex, wire-supported shrugs, peplum belts, and vests emphasized the torso's angles and curves, while nude-hued latex bodysuits and tanks almost disappeared into the body. At the end, it became tricky to tell where skin ended and garment began. Lovers of Bartlett's infamous accessories will find much to love here too, from the semi-transparent, chunky rubber bangles and pendants, to the chain necklaces covered with thin coatings of latex to the tubular, hip-slung belts. VPL's a testament to the power of the collaborative effort, joining forces with Brian Crumley, LD Tuttle, Orly Genger by Jaclyn Mayer, and more on everything from shoes to knitwear, and Bartlett's shows often leave one wishing more designers would try out this sort of fashion fusion, too. Sometimes, like VPL's rubbery separates and elastic-trimmed lingerie, it truly does pay to "stretch yourself" (pun intended).

**All photos: IMAXTREE