Last Friday's Adam Arnold Spring Fashion Show was in many ways a return to form. A crowd of affable clients, friends, and admirers gathered in the new salon space occupied by the as-yet-not-renamed Burnside Proper at the east end of the Morrison Bridge. After several seasons of presenting collections on the west side (not counting fall's open house), being back on the east side felt right, like a homecoming.
Likewise, the collection revisited some of Arnold's past work, made new again with novel fabrics and the occasional small adjustment. This is how Arnold's clothing works—always a growing body of work, with little or nothing ever thrown out permanently at season's end. Ideas were present that have been threading their way through his collections for years, such as a honeycomb/geodesic technique he first experimented with in 2007's Seaplane-produced Little White Dress show, and which he says he's simply "not done with."
Arnold is known for long, imaginative lists detailing his inspirations for each body of work, and this installment can be boiled down to what he calls "Dutch," a catchall association born out of the obscure, dark European krautrock he listened to while designing (nearly crashing his computer with gleefully prolific album downloads), as much as the increasingly sharp take on affluent eccentricity—particularly manifested in the menswear—his recent collections have nailed. I want to call it "rich hippie," but there's nothing throwback about it, and it's more princely than earthy. Psychedelic, yes. But modern, and formal at heart. (Or as a portion of the program put it, "Dutch Touch, Dutch Bunch, Dutch Crunch, Dutch Hutch".)
Most of Arnold's glee was felt in his designs for men, where spring pieces were demarcated as such by virtue of, say, the cheerful tulip-print lining on a denim suit(!) and lighter weight fabrics. The shapes themselves, though—long sleeved collared shirts, vests, high waisted pants—are easily as appropriate for fall. A large weekend bag in handsome leather, canvas hats, and shirts with reversible collars were surprises, some of which were inspired by a new, mysterious menswear muse who Arnold declines to identify.
For the women's collection, Arnold says he was more inspired by the fabric (the aqua paisley used on a single dress stands out in particular). In general, the pieces—not a pant or short among them—impressed by quiet complexity in their tailoring; a black twill arrow-pleated piece is an instant favorite, and a sweater vest cut like a maillot bathing suit is loaded with curious possibility. The reversible effect was seen here, too, in a silk tulip-print dress whose sash belt and collar reversed to reveal an improbably great contrast with a navy and white star pattern.
Arnold's clothing is perhaps best viewed in, and on, the community that supports him. At his shows, the crowd is often dressed in pieces directly from, or customizations based upon, the shows of years past, collectively telling his design history under one roof. This season's new pieces will undoubtedly be welcomed into the fold.
See more of Adam Arnold's past work at adam-arnold.com, or—even better—make an appointment to visit the Adam Arnold studio at 727 SE Morrison, 234-1376.