Magical Realism. Altuzarra SS23

I haven’t seen an Altuzarra show in a while, but I follow Joseph Altuzarra‘s side project, Altu, which is a genderless label offering timeless essentials in a cool, off-duty, gritty aesthetic. To sum it up, it’s quite the opposite of the ultra-feminine style of the designer’s main label. But it seems to me that developing Altu let Joseph take a new perspective at Altuzarra. The spring-summer 2023 line-up shows a more relaxed, laid-back approach, and I like it. Well, maybe the first part of the collection is too isnpired with last summer’s Prada silhouette, but the second section is truly eye-pleasing. “The world feels so alien and scary. I’ve been interested in how people in the past have made sense of things,” Altuzarra said at a preview. “Finding tangible reasons for why things are happening is what people would do, and that’s what I’ve been expressing through the collections.” For spring he said he wanted to explore “this idea of a trip and nature as an entry point for psychedelic experiences.” A couple of books, The Teachings of Don Juan and Desert Solitaire, both written in the late ’60s and both delving into mysticism, proved inspirational. The show played out like a journey – or maybe a vision quest – starting with preppy-ish classics like striped shirts, cable sweaters, and minis that Altuzarra tweaked and twisted until they looked neither preppy nor classic. He topped them with boxy blazers or parkas, and accessorized the looks with retro Keds sneakers. The shibori-dyed dress of look 19 is where woman meets nature. Tie-dye and coin embroidery are two Altuzarra signatures, and he doubled down here, sending out a parade of exquisite dresses whose intricate craftsmanship is near unrivaled in New York. Most ambitious was the series of body-skimming numbers that were first tie-dyed, then pleated and twisted; their patterns looked like exotic skins. Other dresses were sewn first, then dyed. “It’s all done on a final garment. You basically can’t mess up, because if you do, you have to redo the whole thing,” he said. They take almost two months to make.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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