By Robin Givhan

The Washington Post

NEW YORK — It was difficult to know exactly where to look during designer Tom Ford’s spring 2018 show Wednesday night. Are those yards of silver sparkles a dress or a shirt? Whatever it is, it’s glamorous and gorgeous. And look at those legs! Legs for miles! Amazing professional model legs!

Look at those shoes. Those candy-colored stilettos are so very, very high. But they make those legs look really, really good. You know who would love those shoes? You know. Melania.

Look at those shoulders. The shoulders on those jackets are like something you’d see on a linebacker. So 1980s, but better. Sexier.

The shoulders are, well, just wow. But what do you do with them? Where do you wear them? Does a power lady strut them into a tech workplace, where all those tech moguls wear T-shirts and designer hoodies?

Are they empowering, or way too Barbie? Those fuchsia jackets with the squared off-shoulders and the narrow waists don’t go with homespun pink hats. Not really.

The shoulders demand attention; they demand the spotlight at a time when swaggering individualism has given way to mass movements, the base, the resistance, the deplorables, us and them.

These are mentally exhausting times, and these are physically exhausting clothes. Everything was so sexy and sharp. Which is to say that everything was very much Tom Ford.

The designer kicked off the runway season here with his presentation at the Park Avenue Armory, which had been transformed into a purple play pit with mood lighting, vodka cocktails, topless eye-candy waiters and booming dance music. The party began when the runway show ended. It was a celebration of Ford bringing his collection back to New York — after decamping first to London and then Los Angeles — as well as a bit of hoopla for his new fragrance — the name of which can’t be written in full because language, people, language. It’s called: “F-ing Fabulous.” That’s what you are. And yes, it smells pretty darn good, too.

This collection, with its celebration of power, sex appeal and impolitic debauchery, is not of this era. It did not deign to be of this time because these are not especially good times. These clothes are for fancier days and happier moments. They are both retro and futuristic. They speak to that period before we began wondering: Are we on the brink of nuclear Armageddon? And they promise that there will come a time when we will stop asking that question.

There was nothing informal about this collection. Ford’s aesthetic has evolved since his career at Gucci and Saint Laurent and even the earliest days of his signature collection. But it has evolved on its own terms, without kowtowing to stray outside influences. Ford’s version of athleisure is a lot of people’s notion of uptown uppity. He has no time for slovenly nonchalance. Pull it together, people. Silence your phone, and stop shoveling sheet cake into your mouth.

It sounds so simple. So lovely. So fun. But as much as one wanted to love this collection, something seemed off. Perhaps not with it, but with us. Ford was inviting his audience into a place of delight and pleasure. A place without Twitter and Facebook and the relentless ping of worrisome notifications.

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