We admit that Victoria Bartlett can't do much wrong in our book, so we weren't really a hard sell at the Spring '11 collection show at Pier59 on Sunday. Even with that in mind, VPL turned it out. The signature underwear-as-outerwear theme remained in full force, but there was a noticeable sense of growth in what we saw on the runway. Not in the sense of changing aesthetics, selling out, or anything else the designers who befriend downtown types can be accused of doing. With the introduction of prints and a few great collaborations, it seemed Bartlett was ready to do more.
Sheer panels, cutouts and bandeaus under dresses and sweaters will keep the designer on-point for spring, and her use of inventive jewellery will give her extra credit. Bartlett teamed up with designers Lizzie Fortunato, Orly Genger and Alyssa Norton to make inventive necklaces, but the wildest of all her jewellery came from Brian Crumley - who invented blown-glass backwards necklaces that rested on models' spines. (Crazy, but we adore.) Back to the clothes, Bartlett amped up her neutral-heavy palette with a venture into prints, inspired by an Egyptian artist. Not at all ironically, we consider what Bartlett made a work of art in its own right.