After last season’s sequin-encrusted sugar skull sweaters and gowns, I wasn’t sure exactly what we might get from John Richmond this time around. After all, if there’s any season that leaves itself open to a bit of debauchery it’s spring/summer and Richmond has made it clear he doesn’t mind bucking trends and challenging moral standards. There have been seasons when one might get the impression Richmond was daring editors to censor his collection.

By comparison, this spring/summer 2015 collection is downright homey. Starting, as usual, with fitted black and white dresses, the embroidered tribal designs used for shoulder and sleeve embellishment seems rather tame. Sure, the soundtrack was saying rock and roll and hard liquor, but the styles were more along the lines of Vivaldi and a nice Chablis. Surely John Richmond isn’t going all soft and mainstream on us!

Of course not. Within a matter of five looks the designer sent two ensembles in leather mesh down the runway. There are some hints at jacquard (not the real thing, but the tooled leather has the look) and a hot biker’s jacket, then all of a sudden the whole thing gets transparent. We’ve seen a lot of sheer this season, to be sure, but Richmond goes full bore with the look and doesn’t apologize for making it just as sexy as possible. Silhouettes from here on out are slinky, close to the body, with slits up even the shortest of skirts and the only thing left to imagination is imagination. If  one was looking for the naughty side of fashion, this would be it.

Here’s the catch: Everything here is workable even in places where near-nudity is discouraged. By utilizing the tribal design and a large bouquet of sartorial roses, Richmond makes sure that there’s nothing here that can’t be made street appropriate with the addition of a camisole or slip. While there’s no denying the ramped up sexuality that brings some of the looks such as a very short white tunic dress to the brink of lingerie, Richmond keeps the looks workable and when he moves on into a delightful and colorful set of prints and adds a moto jacket the looks are surprisingly, dare we say the word, pretty.

Women looking for that counter-culture vibe may be a bit disappointed with this collection. At no point is there an in-your-face snub toward society as we often see in Richmond’s line. About as close as this presentation came was when a model came down the runway with one glittery green tennis shoe untied, and even that may have been accidental (given that it only happened once and really was a significant tripping hazard). There’s still plenty here to play with, though. How naughty or safe one makes the look is totally their own decision. Richmond gives women a substantial framework for expressing themselves multiple ways with the same pieces. As scary as it may sound, this softer John Richmond is actually very pleasant. We just don’t expect it to stick around more than a season.

Photo credit: Regis Colin Berthelier

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