A model walks the runway at the Altuzarra fashion show...

A model walks the runway at the Altuzarra fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2014 at Industria Superstudio in Manhattan. (Sept. 7, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

Inspiration for Altuzarra’s spring collection comes from Japanese Boro gear. You know…BORO. Yeah, he explained it in his program, but we had to look it up later. Boro is a term for ragged clothes or textiles worn by farmers and fishermen, patched and stitched together to make them last longer. Real clothes, with real purpose. It’s a far cry from today’s trend-driven, disposable fashion, but that’s probably what attracted designer Joseph Altuzarra to the idea in the first place.

So how do you take a provincial, pragmatic custom and translate it into something elegant and…artful? Altuzarra starts with a silk button-down top, soft and flowing like pajamas, with poplin collar and cuffs (that patchwork idea), paired with a long cotton drawstring skirt, folded over at the waist (like you inherited it from your big sister)...with a slit up the side and undone laces dangling along the leg. Okay, that’s a lot to take in. And that’s just the first look.

Is there a Japanese version of “Little House on the Prairie?” As the models came out, one after the next, a hint of the frontier seemed to whisper from the patchwork blouses, the drop-waist dresses with a zillion or so buttons up the front and the capes with bold black stripes, somewhat reminiscent of a Native American-inspired Pendleton blanket.

That said, there’s no chance you’ll feel like you’re in a play cast as Laura Ingalls Wilder. Yes, there’s some fringe (one jacket is a bit too Annie Oakley) and the dresses (modern takes on flapper wear) felt a tad forced. But there’s a lot to like here, all indisputably modern. Like the sweet, cropped sweaters with exaggerated, wide, ribbed hems. Or the gray Henley bodysuit worn atop a metallic silver silk skirt with swirls of fabric at the waist. Or the super-sexy tux jackets worn open, over bare skin, and held closed by a wide luxe embroidered ribbon.

Okay, you may need some double-stick tape, too, just to be safe. But leave it to this sprightly young designer to start with the idea of recycled, workaday clothes and wind up with something so daring and luxe, luxe, luxe.


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