Fall 2007: Joanna Mastroianni
This was my second Joanna Mastroianni collection (I attended her spring 2007 show last September), and while it's clear that she's an eveningwear designer, I'm still kind of puzzled as to what, exactly, her design aesthetic is and what she's all about. Her client list--Tara Reid, Natasha Richardson, Britney Spears, and Soledad O'Brien--is not much of a help. And she doesn't have much of an editorial presence either, because I recognized no major editors in the front row. The show, while enjoyable, was a bit on the cheesy side, even. But everything that came down the runway was stunning in its own way and very well made.

The collection was inspired by a 19th-century Byzantine cross, which is reasonable enough, but the thing that confused me was that while some of the looks were incredibly ornate, others were clean, crisp and minimalist. Case in point: minimalist (and lovely)...

...versus oh-my-god detailed. This mattelasse fabric appeared several times throughout the show. It's very eye-catching, as they say.

Here's another example. This black jersey dress was one of my favorite looks in the show; the back, which you'll see in the next photo, had these beautiful chain straps.

Now, this is the next look that came down the runway (you can see the back of the previous dress to the right--gorgeous). Sing it with me kids, "Which one of these is not like the other?"

I forgot to mention that the show's music had a rather obvious theme: First, a cover of Madonna's "Like a Prayer," followed by R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" and a cover of George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord." So the music wasn't subtle. And nor was this dress.

So, as you can see, I was not a big fan of the ornate stuff, although I will say it was beautifully made--just not my cup of tea. I preferred the more minimalist looks, which were, in my opinion, even better. This silk chiffon and lace dress had pretty ruffles in the back, which was dramatic but not drama queen.

So while the show was a study in minimalism vs. detail, it didn't really do anything to answer my question of who actually buys this stuff. But as far as retailers and her clients--who clearly made up much of the audience--go, none of this matters, as they oohed and ahhed over nearly everything that came down the runway. Knowing your customer is what keeps you in business, after all, and for Joanna Mastroianni, that's all that matters.

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