Diane von Furstenberg Spring 2015 NEW YORK FASHION WEEK

Diane von Furstenberg’s breezy collection wafted by, as the designer explained during a preview, on the promise of “the Côte d’Azur in the fifties—when it was glamorous!”

A time when Picasso and Matisse were friends and rivals, Brigitte Bardot was bringing international attention to the sleepy fishing village of Saint-Tropez, and the young Diane herself was igniting the beaches and corniches of the French Riviera in perfect sandals and leg-baring little shantung shift dresses.

Diane was thinking of Bardot in the pretty gingham dresses that Jacques Esterel made for her, of fresh broderie anglaise “picnic dresses,” and of prints inspired by the cutouts of Henri Matisse (with whom, as she proudly points out, she shares a birthday—New Year’s Eve).

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It was a collection that was as lighthearted and complication-free as a perfect summer beach holiday, complete with structured bikini bra tops and pareo side-wrap skirts. Black-and-white gingham was printed on silk jersey and chiffon for Diane’s signature little wrap dresses, veiled in thick cotton crochet lace (for a skimpy little shift dress), or frosted with blocks of translucent sequins in candy pink or sunshine yellow. It also made an appearance as the straps of the no-fuss sandals with chunky tortoise heels.

Meanwhile, the prints abstracted from classic toile de jouy and Indienne patterns (but reworked in Pop Art pinks, corals, Yves Klein blue, and bright grass greens) evoked the textile assemblages that Matisse used as dynamic backdrops to his portraits and still lifes.

A great pair of retro-fabulous dark denim high-waist jeans (with DVF picked out in gold thread on the back pocket, naturally), worn with a crisp navy-blue-and-white flower print man’s shirt, looked like the sort of uniform Diane herself might have worn back in the day—as she danced and lip-synced to the campy 1972 Italian holiday pop classic Parole Parole. Plus ça change: Diane was doing just that as she took her runway bow, bidding the audience to sing along with her and keep the wind-swept, sun-kissed holiday mood going in steamy downtown Manhattan.