There are few designers that make clothes as intricate and well-constructed as Australian designers Nicky and Simone Zimmermann, who showed their fall/winter 2014 collection in their second-ever New York runway show at Lincoln Center Friday morning. Known for their elaborately constructed, cutaway swimsuits and glamorous resort wear, they've been steadily building out the rest of their collection -- shoes, bags, coats -- as they push for expansion in the U.S. and other international markets.
The clothes Zimmermann showed Friday were, like those shown in past collections, beautifully made. Most interesting were the "racer" garments -- printed blouses, skirts and dresses -- that were cut out in panels, lined in leather trim, and hand-tied together with large, pearl-like metallic buttons -- a highly original technique that recalled the pearl-embroidered dresses worn by Elizabeth I, but here with a very modern, tough vibe. (The dark lipstick, slicked back, twisted hair, chunky patent leather brogues and leather "teddy" bows, worn around the neck, enhanced that vibe.) Impressive, too, were the knits: A striking long, sea-green mohair vest brought an element of softness to an otherwise masculine shape (see top left), while a pinkish top featured rows of hand-knit balls that were stuffed, hand-threaded and tied on (see second to right).
While the clothes were wonderful to behold up close, some did not drape well (namely, a black studded cocoon coat that moved stiffly around the ankles), or were very difficult to wear -- surprising, given that Zimmermann plans to bring every single runway piece into stores, and that the spring collection was so easy and roomy. The show closed with a series of stiff, tightly fitted bodices and an equally stiff jumpsuit that looked anything but comfortable. Other looks felt overwrought, a mix of rose, leopard, crochet, and studs forming an overwhelming mix. One particularly puzzling piece was a sort of bustier jumpsuit, the top of which sat just low enough that the model's breasts were fully exposed through the thin lace top (which brought to mind Lady Gaga's malfunctioning Thierry Mugler gown at the 2011 CFDAs).
Perhaps what we were most excited about were the coats: large, menswear-inspired pieces textured with red lace or, in our favorite of all, a furry grey and black houndstooth. Leave it to the Australians to do good winter outerwear.