The seed of Damir Doma's womenswear business lay in girlfriends stealing his clothes from their boyfriend's wardrobes. When that wardrobe included billowing kaftans and robes, it was easy to translate them to womenswear with minimal changes. But the most interesting things in Doma's recent womenswear collections have been the changes, the tweaks that have twisted his look from androgyny to, if not exactly gender stereotyping, at least a more clearly-divined gap between him and her.
His latest Autumn/Winter 2012 collection was dedicated to the Renaissance, albeit a twenty-first century take on all that grandeur. There was no damask, for once, and nothing that looked like a ruff, bar the high-cut, almost clerical collars on the opening black-and-white looks. Below those collars? A tramline-straight cashmere coat, impeccably cut, a roomy biker jacket (not terribly sixteenth century, thank god), or a voluminous sloping jacket with all the drama of a Zurbaran saint. Drama, yes, but it was possible to imagine it sloping on the shoulders of pretty much any woman, which was the important part.
That was Doma's unique take on the Renaissance. It wasn't very Renaissance at all, which is music to a fashion journalist's ears - or eyes, but lets not get bogged down in the senses. Damir Doma is sophisticated enough to extrapolate the essence of an inspiration without making it seem like costume, or drama, but like perfectly-poised clothes for the demands of the modern world. The fact he can still evoke a touch of romance into the drape of his sarouel trousers or his bittersweet palette (he's a fabulous colourist, this season his black was joined a hint of aubergine and biscuit-shades of cinnamon and a warm, flushed apricot) is a sign of his ever-maturing talent. And he used flat shoes, too. This collection was a sure step forward him and his many women.