On February 8, 2014, designer Alexandre Herchcovitch presented his Fall 2014 ready-to-wear collection at Milk Studios in New York during MADE Fashion Week. With its two strongly contrasting palettes, bold mix of masculine and feminine, and strong allusions to Victorian underthings and outerwear, the collection honored the Brazilian designer’s twin loves: fantasy and innovation. “I don’t make future plans [for my designs],” the soft-spoken Herchcovitz told SJ Chronicle’s Michelle O. Dente in a backstage interview. “I just live day by day.” This season, that open-mindedness led the designer to contrasting looks that shared a sense of witty and elegant otherworldliness.
The models wearing the lighter palette—concoctions of the softest cream, white, and peach—drifted down the runway looking dreamy and a bit dazed; as if they’d just left romantic assignations. Large round sunglasses, most with orange lenses that did not obscure the eyes, accentuated the feeling of distracted dreaminess. Artful touches—cashmere jersey camisoles worn over, rather than under, blouses; lacy leggings peeking out from the hems of dresses or culottes; straps and sleeves shrugged off one shoulder—further enhanced the sense of tasteful dishabille.
Herchcovitch varied his silhouettes without changing the mood. One long pale dress was straight and slip-like, another high-necked and prim. Structured blouses paired with loose shorts or with shorts in delicate, form-fitting lace.
Handmade Brazilian lace, created in partnership with designer Martha Medeiros, graced many of the pale outfits, sometimes as an accent, sometimes as the key material of construction. Herchcovitz told SJ Chronicle that he found the lace-making to be the most challenging part of the show. He described the process as “an antique Brazilian technique that’s dying, unfortunately, because it’s very expensive and takes lots of time [to do].” Like Medeiros, who is also Brazilian, Herchcovitch wants to call the world’s attention to this beautiful craftwork.
More-structured pieces assured that the collection, even in the pale palette, evoked women’s strength as well as their fragility. Some outfits had capelets with suit-style notched lapels; others, athletic-style shorts or double rows of large buttons that referenced men’s heavy Victorian overcoats.
With the second palette—bright red, dark gray, and black—the feeling segued from dreamy and dazed to dark and moody. A few long red dresses with short mock turtlenecks seemed to look behind to the limited lives of Victorian women and ahead to female astronauts and space travel. Several dark outfits winked slyly at Victorian style by keeping the basic details but drastically shortening the skirt and pairing it with a see-through bodice, removing the sleeves, or plunging the bodice into a deep V.
Other dark outfits paid more direct homage to Victorian fashion with very high necks, long skirts, ruffled shoulders, and full sleeves. But Herchcovitz’s inventiveness gave each piece a modern feeling. In one fine example, he beautifully tailored leg o’ mutton sleeves to add a lower slit through which the model slipped her arms, giving the appearance that she was also wearing a capelet.
Large round sunglasses, most with very dark lenses, accentuated this palette’s sense of mystery. With both palettes, models wore short socks and patent leather, ankle-strapped oxfords in red, black, or white. The shoes combined the heft of a masculine wingtip with the lightness of a feminine sandal.
Most models wore their hair up, swept over the forehead from an indistinct side part. A fuzzy texture and flyaway style accentuated the collection’s overall tone of romantic dishevelment. The makeup team kept faces very clean, with a touch of pale pink on the lips and a hint of color around the eyes.
Since beginning his design career in 1994, Alexandre Herchcovitch has lived by the personal rule that each new season presents a fresh opportunity to challenge himself by doing something new. His Fall 2014 collection suggests that he’s far from running out of ideas. See more of his work (including band-aids he designed for Johnson & Johnson) on his website.
Fashion Designer: Alexandre Herchcovitch
Co-designer (Lace) Martha Medesros
Show Director Dean Snyder
Makeup Artists: Phillipe Chansel and the M.A.C. PRO Team
Hairstylists: Rolando and the Bumble and Bumble Team
Editor in Chief: Semant Jain, Ph.D.
Fashion Writer: Elizabeth Nash
Interviewer: Michelle O. Dente