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.