For Autumn/Winter 2010, Joseph Altuzarra evidently decided it was time for something a little darker in both colour and in mood.
As a label, Altuzarra already sounds like something plucked straight from that late seventies/early eighties post-punk Parisian playground of Le Palace kids and sci-fi sex games - can't you just picture it flashing neon-bright across a monolithic black lacquer catwalk?
For Autumn/Winter 2010, Joseph Altuzarra evidently decided it was time for something a little darker in both colour and in mood. Think Roxy Music's 'For Your Pleasure' - an irresistible aesthetic mix of sex and sadism. Thus, Altuzarra's models flexed in teetering heels, trussed and fussed up in more shiny shiny leather and buckles than The Mineshaft circa 1979. Throttled with goat fur, faces framed with dramatic collars and limbs encased in tight, restrictive tailoring, Altuzarra's Glamazon vision of woman as provocative sexual powerhouse is undoubtedly a cliché - one seemingly mined to the bedrock by Mugler and Montana back in the eighties at that. But, rare amongst young designers, Altuzarra's technique and gusto made his new versions comparable to these old masters. He seemed to have sliced everything apart and tacked it back together again, thus raised whip-stitched seams scarred leather bodysuits, strictly tailored skirt-suits and multiseamed dresses suctioned tight to the female form. Sometimes the garments themselves appeared to be coming apart: super-skinny drainpipe leather trousers slit open over ferocious heels, openwork seams spiralling around thigh or laddering into a cat's-cradle of threads - in actual fact fine leather cord tugged tight against bared flesh. It takes a deft hand to know how far these shenanigans can be pushed - and then to push it that bit further - but it seems Joseph Altuzarra has just that rare skill.
Watching the tight models of the bodies twisting in those taut little dresses was utterly mesmerising, a spectacle part peep-show part Robert Palmer video that it was impossible not to enjoy, albeit guiltily. This was a difficult, difficult show and could very easily have fallen into camp pantomime excess, but Altuzarra managed, by and large, to walk a fine line just the right side of bad taste. He did take a tumble at the end, with lumpy and poorly executed suiting in ill-chosen red velvet (you could see every single stitch from forty paces) while a trio of Bob Mackie-style glitter-crusted crimson gowns looked embarrassingly dated. Unfortunately for Altuzarra, the rest of this energetic collection was so bang-on it made the stumbles all the more glaring. No matter. He'll know better next time.