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New York fashion Week: Althea Harper

Models surround Althea Harper at her Fall 2011 presentation
Models surround Althea Harper at her Fall 2011 presentation
Wendy Kaufman

Althea Harper's Fall 2011 Collection


Althea Harper's Fall 2011 collection, like her 2010 collection, was held in a small art gallery where the paintings and sculpture made a fun backdrop to her work. This year, Althea opted for a presentation, instead of the runway show she gave us last year. I missed the drama of the girls walking; I much prefer to see clothes like these in motion, or put in a vignette that provides a bit of theater. Still, there was plenty to look at.

Gone were her pops of color, which I truly missed, and in their place was a pallet of black and grey. Certainly there are not many who feel I as I do: that the lack of color is a bad thing. This is New York, and New York loves black. Still, as a whole, the collection seemed to lack the exuberance of her past seasons that the fun insertion of color brought.

When it comes to pattern-making and construction details Althea, as always, has it nailed. I spent time looking over the collection quite closely. I looked at seaming, lifting ruffles to see how they were cut, pulling aside waterfalls of blond hair to see what she did with the back yoke of a shirt. I asked a model if that fun panel on the side of her skirt was indeed a working pocket (it was). All were breathtakingly--and beautifully--made.

I loved the Ridley Blouse, made of printed organic chiffon. It flowed and moved in even the slightest breeze. The print was an interesting abstract that reminded me of a shibori pleating technique. There was a very hot sheath dress with a small cutout—the Coppola Dress—that smoldered pleasantly.

Amy Delson's Jewelry was a lovely counterpoint to the clothes. Long, lean, delicate gold chains filled in the necklines of Althea's clothes with subtle sparkle and sophistication. Keep an eye on this one. You'll want her work. Really.

The detailed nature of Althea Harper's clothes makes them timeless without being bland. They are most certainly a fabulous addition to anyone with an attachment to the little black dress, and will probably become your favorite go-to items. No more plain and simple LBD. Althea's versions—even her less exuberant ones— are a whole lot more fun.