There are so many different metaphors running through my head right now! This Barbara Bui collection connects to society in so many different ways that the line is bound to find ways to be popular when it hits the stores next Spring. I think last season I claimed that the collection (not the designer) was bi-polar because of the different directions the front and back ends of the presentation went. This season, the looks are more unified, but they are still rife with surprises!

Let’s start with a baseball metaphor: Barbara Bui has one hell of a curve ball. I knew when she started in with brightly colored mosaic patterns on coats and pants that I shouldn’t get too comfortable. Ms. Bui routinely leads with a teaser element that she doesn’t maintain too long and this was it. The looks are incredibly cool, with round mirror embellishments and a crazy amount of embroidery. When applied to a panel over white jersey material on a sporty top, there’s almost an ancient tribal feel to it. Very cool, very crafty feeling.

She looses that look quickly, though, and drops back to white monochrome ensembles. Well, they’re almost monochrome. The sly designer keeps slipping metallic into the look, with gold being her favorite. Sometimes it’s the whole shoe. Sometimes it’s just the sole of the shoe. Often it’s in the heavy link chain around the model’s neck but under the clothes. You just thought these were going to be monochrome looks. This is a pattern she will continue throughout the rest of the collection, so keep watching.

Silhouettes are fitted this season more than they were with last Spring’s denim collection. Most everything tends to play fairly close to the body and she uses folding and gathering techniques with precision to emphasize curves at the hips and waist. That being said, though, we also see a lot of waist wrap-arounds tied in front, ala Polo sweaters. I don’t think these wrap around pieces were ever intended to be worn anywhere other than at the waist, though, because what they are effectively doing is covering the otherwise very sheer fabric that has no regard for modesty. The sheer is especially evident in the white pieces and only the wraps keep matters from getting a little too intimate.

Then, there’s a break for some very colorful and very three dimensional coats. Big, full, with rounded shoulders. Think of them as a commercial, if you will. A commercial for color in the midst of this almost monochrome collection.

Return then with a head-to-toe gold metallic ensemble before gradually transitioning to black. With the black comes a slightly fuller silhouette with more light weight and billowing layers. Bui still uses that same waist wrap technique, but now it’s longer, more flowing, rather than just an opaque cover. Three times here she pairs the looks with skin-tight leather pants, seriously ramping up the sensuality of the looks.

Finally, she goes for a very specific color: Prison orange. Think, “Orange is the New Black” type of color with the exception that none of these looks are institutional. Not even close. Still playing fitted, with short skirts and sheer layering, were these pieces introduced in a prison I would fully expect riots to ensue, fighting over who was sexier, of course.

Barbara Bui’s spring/summer collection is relatable, sexy when it wants to be, cool where it needs to be, and entertaining just because. You’ll want to shop the whole collection, look for the little surprises she’s sewn into the details as well. These are well designed clothes for a free-spirited woman.

Photo credit: Guillaume Roujas

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