Much is made about Joseph Altuzarra's branding abilities, and with good reason: There are few young labels in fashion that produce clothes that are not only tasteful and wearable, but also distinct. The challenge, then, is to stay within the brand guardrails, while introducing enough newness to keep things interesting.
Altuzarra's spring 2016 collection did exactly that. The show had a more relaxed feel than seasons' past. Gone were the commanding furs and thigh-high lace-up boots of fall, and in its place were easy, urban clothes — many in linen that was wrinkled or creased — that looked just right for a humid New York summer. Altuzarra's signatures had plenty of play, appearing in classic button-downs and slim pencil skirts, some pleated or wrapped, others unbuttoning, beautifully, to a sky-high slit; blazers, the most interesting of which buttoned up on the sides as well as the front; and sheath dresses in crinkled linen and multicolored silk.
The season's newness came from Altuzarra's inspiration for the collection. The designer drew on his father's Basque heritage and an exhibit he saw on pagan costumes, resulting in a rich palette of white, sand, pumpkin, emerald, navy and tobacco. There were dip-dyed and hand-painted dresses made to look like ceramics; burlap coats and jackets adorned with mother-of-pearl; linen espadrilles; and, to close, delicately embroidered broderie anglaise dresses designed to evoke the look and spirit of the Alhambra.
Last season, Altuzarra introduced his first handbag style — a saddle-shaped leather bag decorated with braided straps, tassels and gold hardware — and it appeared again this season alongside a rectangular shoulder bag and an oversized bucket tote, both adorned with tassels. They are a little less of-the-moment than his first season's offering, but very appealing — and very Altuzarra.