Charles Harbison is right at home in the American sportswear mix; having worked for both classics-enthusiast Billy Reid and maestro-of-metropolitan-simplicity Michael Kors, he’s no stranger to a rakishly cinched trench coat, or the most dandy of menswear-tailored slacks.
Lest he be pigeon-holed as solely a devotee of all things Hutton, Hepburn, and Halston, Spring 2014–his second season showing his eponymous collection–revealed the designer’s flair for the slightly more eclectic and, dare we say, eccentric. It all started with the most intriguingly bricolaged of inspirations: Imagine a prepped-out version of the late R&B songstress Aaliyah, playing muse to Yves Klein, while embarking on the ultimate warm-weather cross-continental jaunt. Quite a mouthful, no? We enjoyed the equivalent eyeful as we popped in at Harbison’s Meatpacking District presentation where all of this whimsical concept was coming to fruition, in large part, as a result of the designers pitch-perfect penchant for layering.
Fall’s stark red-black-and-camel palette gave way to a more nuanced play on cyan blues (of the Klein inclination) juxtaposed with poppy-tamale combos and golf-scaled checks in muted values of grey. The fairway vibe was palpable and largely initiated by Harbison’s translation of Aaliyah’s Tommy Hilfiger-clad heyday; in the cleverest of homages, he directed his separates toward that brand’s geek-chic-meets-golf-course lexicon. The boyishness of it all was tempered with crisp, ruffle details on a structural-silk matched-set that took the crop-top trend to an inarguably tasteful place.
All this energy from a coterie of statically placed models! Just wait till Harbison mounts his first full-scale presentation–in the tradition of Kors, we have a feeling that given a runway as canvas, he’ll paint us one hell of a show.