Les Copains is one of those labels that manages to always make me feel under dressed. While the brand is one whose silhouettes are typically what we would refer to as casual, sporty, or even chic, their choice and use of fabrics, with cashmere being the house favorite, manages to make even the most common designs feel luxurious. Overall, the basic looks they present are not all that different from anyone else. What sets them apart is an attention to quality and innovation in fabrics that no one else can touch.

If this season’s collection seems just a little on the blah side, and it does, there is certainly good reason for such. Just before their show in February, Les Copains announced that Allessandro Dell’Acqua was being replaced as creative director by Graeme Black. All well and good, right? Apparently not. Just last week came the announcement that Black was leaving of his own accord and being replaced by Stephania Bandiera whose husband, Mario, just happens to be the owner and founder of the company. When Mrs. Bandiera made her bow at the end of this season’s show, she appeared quite exhausted and one can easily appreciate why.

I don’t think the clothes suffered all that much, though. While the silhouettes are still rather standard, they do flow a little more loose this season and there is a bit more diversity in where the hemlines fall. There are plenty of pants sets with well-flared legs, shift dresses and a couple of ballerina skirts, reasonably tailored suits and beautiful maxi dresses. And sweaters. Lots and lots of sweaters. There are some sheer layovers in a few places, but not too many, and layering in general is not as plentiful as we’ve see with other collections.

Where they’ve manged to be a bit innovative, though, is in working with cashmere. Don’t ask me how, but they’ve managed to find a knitting method that mixes sheer with opaque patterns. While we’ve seen this done with other knit materials before, cashmere is so delicate that one would assume in might tear from such stress. Yet, somehow they manage to do it with both a large leaf pattern, which occurs in the prints as well, and a broken stripe pattern that is somewhere between thin clouds and zebra stripes in its shape. Personally, my preference goes toward the leaf, but either way the effect is quite astonishing and it will be very interesting to see how they continue to develop that technique.

The only curious element is a waist cincher that appears just a handful of times. This thing is huge, easily six or more inches, and stiff as a freakin’ board. No movement, no give, but steel-hard structure over the delicately soft material. Why? I”m not sure. The contrast was unsettling.

Les Copains has obviously had a challenging year and one can only imagine the stress the creative team has had to endure. Yet, they still produced a beautiful line of clothes that left me feeling as though I’m dressed like a hobo by comparison. There’s just no stopping a class act.

Photo credit: Gio Staiagno

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