It’s often said that the clothing you choose acts as a form of daily armor against the world. In the case of Libertine’s collection this season, it may be literal, as designer Johnson Hartig infused his designs with a happy sense of joyful protectionism.
Smiles were aplenty at the show, seen on the audience, backstage (where Hartig stayed to greet and take pictures with well-wishers), and even on the models, whose walking instructions, seen backstage were to “Smile!” But despite the overwhelming happiness of it all, the smiles were without cheese, just like the clothes.
After traveling to India, Marrakech, Peru, and France all in the last year, Hartig came away feeling that it was a small world after all, realizing, as he told me, that “basically, we all do want the same things.” And with that realization, he set to work, creating looks, instilled with goodwill and happiness, so that they would act “almost like amulets, protecting us from the negative elements of the universe.” Coats and dresses were embellished with exuberant beading, much of it shiny and colorful, and ebulliently fun. Some of the beaded shapes were easily identifiable, like Libertine’s signature punk skulls, and others I couldn’t easily identify (maybe there was an avocado? A banana? A cashew? I couldn’t tell.) But I could tell that the shine was purposeful, as Hartig said he wanted “the shiny elements to project the positive, so that these clothes act like positive shields.”
A departure for Hartig this season was developing a zany, madcap technicolor chevron-and-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink bead print, made in Italy, which patterned a woman’s coat, sheath dress, and man’s suit, among others. The ease and the joy and the ecstasy to these pieces made the case for Hartig’s collection of shiny, happy, pieces.