The Merchant Archive Fall/Winter 2018 presentation was substantial, yet whimsical. Sophie Merchant’s use of thick silks and textured cashmere blends showed off the quality of construction and clean lines of the clothing. The collection is polished and sophisticated, even though it was inspired by a page from a children’s book that Merchant reads to her daughter. Many of the pieces held their own structure, like a floor length burnt red silk jumpsuit with stiff, extra wide legs that looked like a dress at first glance, but with the swoosh of a step revealed its playfulness. Even the knits had a defined shape to them. A red cashmere pant and sweater set stood out due to its focus on extra wide cuffs on the sleeves and pant legs, which mirrored the thick wrap-around turtleneck giving it a structured yet cozy look. Neck details were a theme throughout the collection, with a cheerful red-orange dress and a satiny light gray jumpsuit also having iterations of a wraparound turtleneck with hanging ends.
The color palette, which was intended to convey both the antique and the new, comprised of dusty pink, orange and mustard, with bright contrasts of green and red-orange. Some neutrals and navy were also included. The most impactful looks were monochrome, fully embracing the saturated colors. However, a shimmery multicolor silk — as a skirt with a nude pussybow top, as a blazer with a woven textured skirt and as pants with a navy pussybow shirt — and a painterly blue and orange dot printed satin — as a dress and pant set — added variety.
As a continuation of Merchant’s pre-fall collection, which shared the same children’s book illustration as its inspiration, the F/W18 assemblage worked seamlessly. Merchant brought back many of the same colors and textiles for the new collection, but incorporated more warm knitwear. The audience was able to see the full story, because the pre-fall collection was hanging on display in one of the presentation rooms, and the models walked in a cycle from room to room.
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