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  • Writer's pictureMaren Beverly

At Altuzarra, a Wispy Controversy

The designer debuted a show inspired by the work of Roman Polanski.


Always drawing from unique cultural touchpoints, Joseph Altuzarra’s inspiration for his Spring Summer 2024 collection was “the timeless horror masterpiece by Roman Polanski and a precursor to the New Wave Movement in American film, Rosemary’s Baby (1968),” according to the show notes. The accompanying show music certainly invoked a sense of horror — but barely any of the looks made me want to run down the hallway screaming.

Prior to the show beginning, the brand’s website also stated: "The Spring Summer 2024 collection takes inspiration from the French New Wave cinematic movement, which celebrated spontaneity and realism. This collection embraces the beauty found in the everyday, evoking a sense of rawness and vulnerability, while paying homage to an era of elegance and liberation where bold shapes and daring lines redefined the boundaries of style."

Altuzarra’s love for film is evident — his collection is a beautiful example of different mediums reflexively influencing one another. (One can also understand a fashion show as a film: orchestrated, well-rehearsed art.) The feminine, perfect peacoats struck me as the most obvious link to the French New Wave. These modish, 1960s silhouettes could have been worn in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (the light pink satin!). It should be said that the specific resurrection of Polanski — controversial for obvious reasons — feels like a very specific thesis by Altuzarra, and I’m uncertain of its very specific meaning.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

On an aesthetic level: pops of bright reds, springy yellows, and icy blues mediated the overarching shades of grey. The designer is, after all, a master of color.

The romantic, academic mood of the looks carries a whiff of Miu Miu Fall/Winter 2023; namely, the casual cashmere sweaters, modestly hemmed skirts, and decisive coats. Altuzarra’s female protagonist, however, is more of a haunted ingénue.

Some looks, like the satin mini skirt and preppy coat, truly felt like a modern take on the late 1950s/early 1960s era Altuzarra was inspired by. My favorite look was a mustard organza collared shirt paired with a low-waisted cherry brown skirt. And you can’t miss the clusters of embroidery that drip from the delicate fabrics like budding spring branches of pearls.

Other looks — such as the various tie-dye dresses sprinkled occasionally — felt like a commercial necessity but less cohesive with the collection itself. We can’t blame a designer for embracing an equation that churns out sales and brand identity.

Overall, I romanticized the cinephile who goes to avante-garde films in wispy outfits alongside Altuzarra, just as much as I struggled to distinguish a reimagined blazer and a satin slip skirt from the rest of fashion week. 🌀


You can view the whole collection here.


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