Chadwick Bell — say the name and there’s the distinct ring of a law firm, or maybe one of those tough Mad Ave. ad agencies. But the young designer seems anything but tough or hard-edged, when you consider the artistic flair and sophisticated styling behind his spring women’s wear collection.
Inspired by the “vastness of the desert,” according to his production notes, his runway was awash in sun-bleached, Southwestern shades and forms — gauchos, saddle belts and khaki all play their part. But this is not the ticky-tacky Southwest of gaudy turquoise belt buckles and lotsa, lotsa fringe. Think more Georgia O’Keeffe.
Malachite green, dusty pink and gold shades jazzed up dresses, jackets and skirts of guipure lace — an homage to the Spanish colonial style.
There also were unexpectedly sheer, sensual elements,ike the khaki silk mesh tulle dress with sheer back, a long viscose gown slit down the sleeves and entirely down the side, with small rosette knots holding it in place. Or there’s Bell’s take on the new erogenous zone — the back of the knee, which was revealed by sheer panels on the back of chic, just-below-the-knee skirts.
He stuck to that hemline — which looked new. And right. Not too long or mid-calf dowdy.
Special mention should go to his dramatic "lace motif" shoes carved of pony skin (Edmundo Castillo for Chadwick Bell), and those artsy, native pottery patterns that popped up on jackets and coats. So…uh…when’s the next flight to Taos or Santa Fe?