Ballet is the inspiration for Julien David’s inaugural spring/summer collection titled Etudes et Preludes, specifically the work of San Francisco Ballet principal  Maria Kochetkova. His intent: to focus on the athletic side of ballet and dancing. So, given that, one might expect a very loose, very light weight collection for the season, one that would have plenty of room for movement.

No, not so much.

Granted, there are hints at athleticism in some of the tops and sweat pants. Extremely exaggerated embellishment on a handful of pieces definitely hints at the stage. However, David’s skirts and jackets are far too structured, too architectural, and in many cases just too long to really invoke that whole dancing feel.

Sometimes, maybe we know too much about a collection, though, and that could certainly be the case here. Take away that preconceived bias toward dance and this collection is much more attractive. Fringe along the shoulders and sleeves is fun. Chiffon sleeves, a bustier top, and a racer back tee are a surprisingly cute and sporty combination. One look puts a shiny blue crop top over black mesh with green leaf-shaped embellishment that looks rather like a vine is attempting to escape from under the clothes. Prints are light and lively. Knits are well-designed and sturdy. A couple of long skirts are just begging to be taken to a music festival next summer.

There are plenty of sporty starts and pieces to several ensembles, but when David pairs them with more solid, architectural elements the extreme contrasts fail to work together and at times even seem to battle each other. Some of the coats feel more like they were just tossed in at the last minute, perhaps leftovers from the autumn/winter collection. Structured skirts, likewise, seem to be missing the rest of their compliment. The juxtaposition of the sportier would-be ballet look with the dressier day wear looks seems to forced. I got the feeling that perhaps Julien’s dancers had finished rehearsal and gotten ready for their day jobs only to discover they’d left some of their day clothes at home. Looks seems incomplete and very much at odds with themselves.

I think Julien David holds a lot of potential. He exhibits the beginning of some great ideas in this collection. Perhaps he just needs more time to develop them fully.

Photo credit: Gio Staiano

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