Rarely has a show referenced so many eras in the history of costume without being beholden to any. Marios Schwab opened with a selection of black, white and beige day dresses with plunging sweetheart necklines, dropped waists and spidery geometric embroidery. The collection soon segued into the intricate cocktail dresses for which Schwab is best known. The tension between the hidden and the revealed is something in which Schwab revels, perhaps owing to his father’s work in the lingerie trade.
The history lesson continued. High jewelled collars were offset by transparent décolletage-revealing chiffon that were nipped in by tailored corsetry in a way that was almost Elizabethan. Intricate beading gave the impression, from a distance, of dazzling Velasquez-like brocade. Waists were strongly defined while hips were emphasized with sequin overlays, a motif that even found its way onto the seasonally mandatory astrakhan outerwear.
Classic lace pieces were individualized by undulating art-nouveau necklines, an effect replicated by sinuously appliqued skeins of tulle, applied to see-through blouses and swirling lily-green helix prints. The closing full-length gowns, meanwhile, gave a thoroughly modern take on Pre-Raphaelite high romanticism. From the Dietrich-aping first looks to the dramatic Lady-of-Shalott dresses, by the end of the show it was clear that Schwab is a dedicated history buff. Who knew?