Count Ohne Titel's Alexa Adams and Flora Gill among the several designers playing with the idea of protection this week: clothing as shield against harsher elements. Underlining the idea of cocooning, smooth black caps, a collaboration with Albertus Swanepoel, were pulled low over models' eyes while faces were often half buried in funnel-like circular scarves. After venturing in a more colorful and feminine direction last season, Adams and Gill proclaimed a return to something tougher and architectural. The overall look was sleeker, harkening back to their urban-warrior roots and the fierce luxury of tops pieced out of shearling, leather, and fur that snapped insiders to attention a few seasons ago.But there was evidence here of attempting to bridge the difference. The zippered jacket on the first look out, for instance, had the feel of an armored doublet, but turned a bit sweeter with a pleated skirt. Keeping to a tight color palette of mostly black and white—an idea inspired by textile artist Sheila Hicks, who wove newspaper into some of her work—the designers used their wicked knitting skills to create great graphic jacquard textures, an element that was the highlight of this show. Knitting nerds take note: The technique required a special machine. Another sweater-y standout: The poor-boy-style knit with rippling stripes in a cardigan and calf-length dress. When it came to wovens, the duo continued their successful run of slouchy pull-on pants, here in a great feathery animal print, and tailored jackets. In the end, it was only the silk dresses, like the two that closed the show, that felt like a work in progress. Call it a case of stiff competition.
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