Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Designer Kit Willow and Mary Ellen Stephenson


The Altman Building, West 18th Street, Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Words, Images by Judith Ecochard

Kit Willow, an Australian designer – has been on our radar since we went to a NYC- RTW runway show on a Super Bowl Sunday night…a few years back. And there was nothing sporty about that outing. In fact, we were surprised at how intricate and urbane refined her collection was.

We prefer this presentation format for Willow ourselves-as it allowed us plenty of time for up close views of this unrestrained, luxurious collection.

INSPIRATION: The twentieth century French dance troupe, the Ballet Russes as epitomized by “the Faun and animal like nature of Vaslav Nijinsky…” its principal dancer.

The garments are 1920’s in tone –and very languidly sophisticated. Generally speaking, the loose, body grazing silhouettes flowing from Willow’s signature corsetry up top (the designer first showed high-end lingerie with jeweled straps for her runway debut in Sydney) are relaxed but defined too.

Flashes of gold and sparkle- in the antique beads, sequins, and hand painted metal discs-are elegant embellishments.

Fabrics are plush and mostly silks fashioned in “cascading waves” with draped white dresses and a short sleeve black frock delineated with black jet sequins- are favorite looks.

Zebra and batik prints add exotic punch to the delicate tulle and chiffon that is hand tied and dyed. It all adds to the richness of the dresses and draped trousers.

We also loved the long scarves delicately/decadently wrapped around the models.

Isadore Duncans of the 21st century will adore this collection-but we can see the all black trendsters growing up a bit-and wearing these styles.

No wonder Southern Hemisphere gals like Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman wear Willow.