Suno Fall 2011: Painterly Prints and Uptown Eccentricity

Backstage before their show, designers Erin Beatty and Max Osterweis both acknowledged the external pressures they’ve felt since Suno’s Spring 2011 collection won rave reviews. (It inspired us to add them to Thread’s list of “Ones to Watch.”) Lesser designers might have responded with stage fright, or by maintaining the status quo. But Beatty and Osterweis decided to challenge themselves, and push their collection in a new direction.

The brand’s mission of bringing jobs to Kenya was still visible in a traditional kanga fabric, but other patterns, like roses, abstract jagged stripes, and soft ombre plaids were more painterly. It all felt very uptown: woven mohair capes, yarn-fringed wraps, checkered wool trousers, and flowing dresses with wallpaper prints.

The designers said “old ladies” inspired their designs for Fall, citing a worldly mix of texture and embellishment, and a dusty palette of plum, mustard, olive, and teal. They might also have mentioned grannies’ fearless embrace of eccentricity, which Beatty seemed to channel backstage as she ordered models to carry their shoulders with confidence.

“You’re beautiful!” she yelled, with what seemed to be her last ounce of strength.

A couple of weeks ago, at Suno’s 38th Street Studio, Beatty said we would see a “more weighty” direction for fall. At the time, we thought she was referring to heavier fabrics, and perhaps a darker palette. Both were true of the Fall 2011 collection, but the real weight seemed to come from Suno's recognition -- and subsequent embrace -- of their moment to shine.

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