Designers sometimes go to great lengths to create runway scenes that match the look and feel of the clothes they are showing. Such shows can be very expensive to produce and, at times, are distracting from the collection itself. Damir Doma went the opposite direction this morning, though, taking us to a warehouse, I think, that is still under construction. The bare concrete walls, steel girders, and dusty floor made me think of some of the more difficult times in Doma’s native Croatia. Stark, quite literally deconstructed, and even a little nippy for a September morning in Paris, the atmosphere was charged with curiosity as to exactly where this increasingly popular designer is taking his label.

The answer: femininity.

Now, understand, that’s a studied and thoughtful answer after having seen the show and gone over the stills a few dozen times. My initial reaction upon seeing the first few pieces come down the runway wasn’t quite so gracious. Holes. Not even in any distinguishable pattern, but more like someone had held the fabric up and then blasted it with a shotgun. This is Doma being avant garde.

Sort of. What he does with those holes is embroider them, finishing them off nicely, and then creating silhouettes that have clean lines, careful folds, and multiple layers but avoid being shapeless (for the most part). So that, in the end, yes, this is a very feminine collection.

Where this collection is the strongest is in its asymmetrical layering of contrasting fabrics, rough or textured on one side, soft on the other. This juxtaposition is a trademark of Doma’s and one of the things that helps him to stand out from the crowd because he does it so very well. If there is a weak spot, and one could argue whether it exists at all, it is only in a couple of pieces that, unlike the majority, come off as boxy and stiff.

With a color palette that starts off white, then shifts to bone and dallies with orange before submitting to black, Doma creates a line for next spring that is fresh, different, and exciting. These are looks that stand out for all the right reasons.

Damir Doma’s presence in the US exists primarily along the coasts, with shops in New Yorks, scattered across So Cal, San Francisco, and Portland, but there are shops in Chicago and Miami as well.

How seriously do you want this label in your wardrobe? Consider that the buzz coming out of today’s show is calling Doma a fresher and more interesting Raf Simons. Doma worked for Simons prior to establishing his own label. Could the student have surpassed the teacher? We’ll see.

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