When I think of Holly Fulton, the first thing that comes to mind is, naturally, dramatic graphic patterns.  The second thing that comes to mind is light, bright, happy looking clothes in generally pastel colors. I expect solidly designed knitwear that is practical, interesting, but none too flashy. So, given all those expectations, this spring/summer 2015 collection from Ms. Fulton was a bit of a surprise.

Surprise number one: things sparkle. Ms. Fulton seems to have discovered plastic and has decided that embellishing her trademark graphic designs with plastic touches ranging from appliqued flowers to clear circles that act in a way like sequins, only larger. There were even a couple of plastic-looking tops which, quite honestly, weren’t terrible looking but still managed to feel out of place in this particular collection.

Surprise number two: bead work. A lot of bead work. I can’t say this is the first time Ms. Fulton has embellished with a bit of bead work, but it is certainly heavier and significantly more noticeable than in previous collections. While the bead work is quite well done, it does add an extra bit of flash and sizzle to the ensembles.

As a result of these surprises, the collection doesn’t come off feeling quite as much every-day wear and more like special day wear. The folksy graphics that Ms. Fulton uses so very well could easily have taken a much more casual turn and I don’t think that would have been a necessarily bad thing. The silhouettes, which are full but neat, long but not impractical, would support either direction. Separates especially seem to want to be a bit more relaxed, but the sparkling embellishments prevent them from going that direction.

This collection raises the question as to whether Ms. Fulton is showing us a permanent change in direction. What we see here has a decidedly higher end feel to it than we’ve seen in previous seasons. There are more looks that are unquestionably for after five than what she normally would show and the whole set looks more like one is going to high tea rather than a day at the office.  Most the graphics are set against a black background, and there are more straight black and white looks than we would expect. As a result, the whole collection has a darker, more serious tone.

Holly Fulton’s graphics have always been her strongest drawing point and that certainly doesn’t change. However, the appropriateness of the clothes has changed with a more definite upper-end tilt. It will be interesting to see how Ms. Fulton’s client base might respond.

Photo credit: Regis Colin Bertheiler


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