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story by Seth Friedermann
photos by Stephen F. Bodi
web editor Rachel Reneé
There is a charge that is occasionally leveled against fashion designers by both those who do not know much about fashion, and more surprisingly sometimes by those who do. In essence it boils down to, “oh they just do the same thing over and over.” The accusation is most often simply because the critic doesn’t really look closely enough at the clothes. Every great designer grows and changes each season but they do so without losing their signature. It is the signature, the outward expression of that designers unique point of view on clothing that makes their work seem unchanging, but, it’s also what makes their work sell. Selling clothes for a reason other than price is a great achievement. It means that you have connected with someone, your work helps them express themselves and it’s a marvelous thing.
Naeem Khan has done a great deal of connecting in his illustrious career. Now in his eighteenth season, his identifiable gowns are in stores and on women all over the world. His calling card is his special sense of how to fuse Indian textiles and techniques with Western glamor. In his Fall 2012 collection, that matchless fingerprint was on display for most of the show but their were two uncharacteristic elements that muddied the waters.
The collection for the most part was pure Naeem Khan, brilliant embroidery and bead work in metallics and jewel tones played off of dark backgrounds. The silhouette was primarily long and tight which, although it has emerged as the look of the season, has been Mr. Khan’s preference since he began. His focus this season was, as it always is, on the heavy and intricate ornamentation that he uses with great flair all over his work.
Incredible prints that resembled tile mosaics were softened by their use on a delicate felt, which helped them achieve a luxurious easy elegance. Black, gold, silver, and pearl were in abundance, often done in very transparent looks which added a strong feel of sexuality, which is often lacking in glamorous evening wear in general. Naeem Khan doesn’t mind getting the heart racing a bit, and it’s a nice jolt when he does it. The odd deviation in the middle of the collection into high-volume bottom dot print dresses and skirts was a jolt of a different sort.
It felt as if we were suddenly in a different collection by a different designer. I am unsure as to how they fit into the rest of the collection, and they were far less interesting than the rest of the work. The last dress remains the only other point of contention. The model obviously could barely walk in the silver long dress made of metal circles because of it’s weight and fit. If your veteran professional model cannot navigate a simple runway, there is no way that an ordinary woman could ever hope to wear such a creation. These clothes are intended as ready to wear, and although there is always a proper allowance for a few extravagant and eccentric designs, sending a dress down the catwalk that is physically unwearable is an exercise in very poor judgment. A stamp of notoriety that a designer most certainly does not want.