The stylized pomegranate illustration penned by Clifford Harper and the word “heretic” on the invitation to Aganovich’s summer 14 show foreshadowed the conclusion to a conversation started in Venice in their Camera Obscura project during this year’s Venice Biennale.
The setting lent itself beautifully to the kind of light play that Nana Aganovich and Brooke Taylor needed to create the ambience of their collection: that moment of dusk where even the most chaste and straight-laced disrobe for the night. Collars drooped backwards just so, revealing – rather, framing – the nape of the neck, unmistakably the inviting gesture of a woman undoing her kimono. Folds recalled the underlayers of Elizabethan times, all pleats here done wide and far from stiff. Varying textures were used to outline the silhouette, flowing here, cinching the waist like a corset there. Thick fabrics they were, but oh, how they moved beautifully as if made from weightless silks.
Perched above the runway was a giant bouquet of pomegranates. Down below, hues of red and pink embodied not only the fruit’s vivid and juicy seeds, but also its allegoric connections to sensuality, and were washed over a rich brocade – once again from Rubelli, their partners from Camera Obscura – or revealed on the lining of a deep V-back.
“We’re no Victoria’s Secret,” quipped Taylor backstage after the show as a beaming Aganovich nodded in agreement, “but we wanted to highlight sexuality, that accident of a viewed nape. The starting point was Elizabeth the First, the Virgin Queen, but it expanded to highlight how women were condemned for their sexuality in centuries past.”
The nonchalance of a shirt and skirt, the collarbone flashing from under a hood, or even the smooth billowing of fabric when taking a step had something so intrinsically sexy that it isn’t hard to compute why women were so long kept under wrap, lock and key.
The 10 on the invitation was just referring to the fact that this is their tenth collection, but considering how the pair fully recaptured the radical perfection of their earlier collections, this felt more like the software world’s “first release” of a new product. They’re ones to watch, again, but even closer than before.