Critique of Kat Von D Los Angeles Spring / Summer 2012 Collection “Treasure Coast”

The fashion world was pleasantly surprised when Kat Von D unveiled her first wave of Fall 2011 designs last year. No one seemed to suspect just how chic it would all be. (I, of course, knew it all along. Ahem.) Kat offers her “Red Label” collection as a cheaper alternative to the more elegant (translation: high priced) “White Label” collection. As I began to peruse the lookbook for the Spring/Summer collection “Treasure Coast,” my expectations were high.

As seen with this baroque jacket inspired by Beethoven, Napoleon, and other strong-shouldered icons of days gone by, Kat's first collection expressed a love of the darkly romantic. Gothic but elegant. Edgy but still refined. I loved every bit.

As a die-hard Kat lover, this is painful for me to concede, but… I’m disappointed. Kat has said that she wanted this collection to appeal to a wider audience, and thus the aesthetic has been (drastically) toned down. So much that for me, the clothing has little appeal.

Granted, there are still looks that exude Kat Von D-ness. As the collections name would suggest, it appears that Kat and her design consultants wanted a pirate-slash-maritime theme.  My favorites from the lookbook are as follows:

I love this tunic. She's called it a sweater, but it clearly ain't gonna keep you warm. I like the thin gauziness of the fabric, and the circular cutouts that represent the black spot, the symbol of mutiny from legend and pirate movies alike.

This jacket is a cleaned up version of the tattered shirts and wind worn jackets of pop culture pirates. This could have been tacky, but instead it's glorious. It has a dark, sharp feel to it that I love.

I love both the top and the skirt. While we've seen similar designs in the past skirt-wise, it seems like a workable piece to add to one's closet. I have a maxi skirt in the exact same tie-dye bleached fabric. Perhaps not office appropriate, but it's a rad skirt to wear day or night with a pair of combat boots and sheer black pantyhose. The top is an ode to the pirate wench with an Asian spin. Love it. Looks like a denim type fabric. It would look great layered over a chiffon peasant top or button up.

That said, some (or most) of the looks are drab and kind of tacky:

I can see scraps of piratey inspiration here, with the knotted gilt yarn closure and the high captain's jacket collar, but the tailoring is all off. It looks thrown together. The pants are something most of us already own. The outfit looks too contemporary.

The leggings look cool, but I imagine they buckle up when the knees are bent. Not practical if you like sitting or moving. The top looks tacky. I don't have a problem with fringe. I love fringe, BUT it has to be done in the right way. The fringe paired with the swirly metallic look of the graphics on this top are fighting each other. It doesn't seem like Kat at all.

These garments, especially this in particular, are items that could have been designed by any old clothing company. I’m thinking Kathy Ireland, Jaclyn Smith, and all the other “every” woman labels. Things you arbitrarily buy for work just because you think they’re office appropriate, not because you really like them. I get the feeling that Kat put all her eggs in one basket with the first collection. Perhaps, not wanting have the Spring / Summer collection be too similar, Kat tried to expand her aesthetic. Instead, the aesthetic was almost lost, muddied with pieces that don’t fit in with the them and don’t feel true to the Kat Von D style. If you cut out all the tacky, humdrum looks, then you’d have a more cohesive, more personal collection, but then again, you’d only have a few looks.

Maybe I’ve just watched too much Project Runway, but it seems like there were two polar opposite designers – one designer is an evolved continuation of the debut collection – dark, tough, but still elegant. Kat has conceptual focus with the “good” looks, however, the “second” (imaginary) designer (presumably Kat’s “average” alter-ego) is trying to design for too broad of an audience, causing the output to be unfocused, uninspired, and bland. The “bad” looks just don’t seem like anything Kat herself would wear. I am guessing the schizophrenic differences between the looks may end up being what separates the “White Label” items from the “Red Label” items this time around. The Fall 2011 had cohesive variety; it really didn’t need to toned down.

To channel Reading Rainbow, “But don’t take my word for it!” View the entire lookbook here and see for yourself.

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