Francesca Liberatore
Francesca Liberatore F/W 2015. Photo credit: Slavin Vlasic/Getty Images

I really felt bad last season that I didn’t like the New York debut of Italian designer Francesca Liberatore. After all, the young designer is fairly well regarded in Milan and even teaches design at some rather impressive institutions. So, I was really looking forward to seeing what she would bring for this fall/winter season and hoping that maybe last season’s problems were just a matter of new-comer’s over enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, I’m sitting here at the end of this presentation scratching my head. I get that there was a very loose constellation theme influencing the collection. The prints on just a handful of pieces were actually quite attractive and probably would have been utilized a bit more often. She also solved the problem of awkward pieces of cloth flapping between models’ legs. I didn’t see anyone tripping over their dress this afternoon. In fact, silhouettes in general just made a whole lot more sense this season. Francesca’s sense of draping, shaping, and folding was dramatically improved over last season’s offering. I counted ten looks that are totally attractive and practical enough to play well in any market, including the fussy Midwest. One look with a built-in bustier and garter really stood out from the rest, but in a very enticing way.

For all the hits, though, the misses were large enough to leave me shaking my head.

Let’s start with the huge, to the point of being awkward, cutouts in several of the skirts. These large rectangle shaped cutouts left the lower part of the skirt connected to the upper part of the skirt with only very narrow straps of cloth. The result was visually confusing as the part of the skirt below the cutout seemed to flap around mercilessly, totally interrupting the aesthetic of the rest of the piece.

Then, there were those large star shields models carried around ala Captain America. I get the star’s connection to the theme and it was a nice touch on the ends of gym bags. I could even let the over-the-shoulder strapped version work because, well, remember the Chanel hoop bag? But the shield bag, zipped at the top and totally impractical from most every perspective conceivable, just didn’t work. Models came down the runway looking like impractical superheroes, unless there’s a shopping superhero, which I guess could be appropriate.

I still find myself wanting to like this collection, and would if only the gaffes were not so huge and overwhelming. Perhaps it is still a matter of refining her look for an American market. That makes sense, doesn’t it? I’ll hold out hope and look forward to next season.

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