Arts Post
Posted at 05:20 PM ET, 09/15/2011

Michael Kors takes an ‘afriluxe’ journey in his new collection

The spring 2012 collection of Michael Kors is modeled during Fashion Week in New York on Sept. 14. (Richard Drew - AP)
As models pounded the runway to a tribal remix of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” designer Michael Kors took his audience on an aesthetic sojourn through Africa. Citing South Africa’s Lebombo Lodge and “afriluxe” — a term coined by Kors — the designer showed hand-dyed caftans and djellabas, flowing utility jackets, distressed woven sweaters and an array of leather accessories. The palette was what you’d expect from a designer who specializes in ultra-wearable American sportswear, comprising shades of sand, ivory and camel, with flashes of saffron and cinnamon to introduce warmth and dusty olive to temper the mix. Photographic animal prints hammered home the safari feel, alongside silky anoraks and utility belts strapped with leather pouches and paired with sporty maillots.

Michael Kors Spring 2012 Ready-to-Wear collection during New York Fashion Week. (Maria Valentino - FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)
Most of the pieces seem fit for a modern-day Veruschka, made for languishing next to a private pool or tossing into a beaten-up leather tote for a last-minute getaway. There’s little doubt that this was the designer doing what he does best, from the tailored shorts to the breezy one-shoulder dresses. But a few items will feel more exotic to the Kors customer: Knee-high lace-up gladiator sandals are more earthy adventurer than Roman soldier, and hand-dyeing techniques conjure flaming African skies at sundown. Just when the collection began veering into hippie-chic territory, Kors reined in his inspiration, sending out a snug zebra-print sheath, a hand-painted python-print trench and skirts that were folded into asymmetric tiers.
Michael Kors Spring 2012 Ready-to-Wear collection during New York Fashion Week. (Maria Valentino - FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

For the runway, hairstylist Orlando Pita created gorgeously messy fishtail braids woven with leather strands, a touch that completed Kors’s vision of a luxe African holiday. Among those getting a front-row seat for the adventure: Zoe Saldana, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Courtney Love, a dashing (and solo) Michael Douglas and the ubiquitous Rachel Zoe.


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