NEW YORK -- Richard Chai showed his spring 2014 men's and women's runway collections at the Lincoln Center tents Thursday, the first day of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York.
The inspiration: When recently asked by fashion-industry trade paper WWD for the season's inspiration, Chai summed it up in just two words: "Soft geometry," a simple straightforward answer that translated into something considerably more nuanced on the catwalk.
The look: There was certainly enough geometry to make Euclid himself proud – among them a silk dress in patchwork geometrics of white and red (described as "grenadine" in the show notes), stripes of every, well, stripe gracing women's shirtdresses and trousers, and even a couple pieces that paired poppy prints with eye-popping geometrics in cornflower blue.
The softness was there too – for women that meant double-breasted cotton/nylon blazers and diaphanous trouser legs that billowed like twin parachutes; for men that meant pajama-like shorts, oversized trousers and poplin shirts. But the collection was also about the juxtaposition of textures too – most notably in the surfeit of solid seersucker that showed up on Bermuda shorts, pleated trousers and double-breasted jackets, but also in the black-and-white-striped mixed fabrication T-shirts and a sequined see-through skirt that shimmered like exotic fish scales with every step.
The scene: Christina Ricci, Zachary Quinto, Louise Roe, Colton Haynes ("Teen Wolf") and the Jonas brothers were among the celebrity guests seated in the front row.
Notable news: This season marked the debut of a collaboration between Chai and outerwear label Andrew Marc on a range of leather jackets (earlier this year the designer had been tapped to serve as a creative consultant to the brand).
While the quilted leather on some of the supple leather jackets fit in with the textured geometrics seen throughout the collection, the rest of the details -- the inside-the-elbow sleeve zippers, chunky pocket snaps and double rows of buckles -- felt just a bit heavy and out of step with the rest of the easy-breezy, light-and-easy catwalk collection.
The verdict: Totally textured layered luxe -- and a short course in soft geometry that Chai passes with flying colors.