Last season Marios Schwab found inspiration in Old Hollywood, but this time around he has transported his woman from the dreamy, elegant world of cinema to a dark, mysterious natural setting. Schwab himself called his new collection ‘Cha O Ha’, a Navajo phrase which translates as ‘In the wilderness’. The wilderness and its occupants were represented in a number of ways. At one moment a Grecian tribal warrior and an Amazon princess marched down the runway, while at the next models clad in honeycomb-patterned jumpers and dresses evoked the bee and the honey it produces.
Schwab’s colour palette stretched from classic blacks and whites to fierce, dramatic reds and electric blues, and on to more subdued, powdery shades of pinks and creams. Body-hugging pieces, dresses with thigh-high slits, and shoes covered in slashed suede fringes, made in collaboration with Ancient Greek Sandals, insinuated a whiff of sexiness into the air. This was enhanced by leather harnesses, preferably cinched tightly in at the models’ waists. Whether inspired by Fifty Shades of Grey or not, there seems to be a recurring trend where designers want their women to be strapped up and ready to go next season. However, designers aren’t portraying women as silent submissives. On the contrary, harnesses on the catwalk seem to be a sign of empowering domination.
That said, beneath the tough façade of heavy leather and black warpaint there was a layer of something fragile; a whisper which seems to have lingered from Schwab’s AW12-13 collection. Some of the most memorable and celebrated pieces from that collection were inspired by the ‘naked’ dresses which Jean Louis designed for Marlene Dietrich in the 50s and 60s. It seems that those dresses, which carry the illusion of nudity, still tickle Schwab’s curiosity. This time around, however, his creations are edgier than before, although they still carry a feminine touch, suggesting that even in the depths of war or the wilderness, diamonds (or at least Swarovski crystals) are a girl’s best friend.
At first glance, Schwab might appear to have slightly over-conceptualized his collection. Mixing tribal warriors with a fascination for the life of the bee might seem a bit confusing and far-fetched for some tastes. While you get a strong inkling of where Schwab wanted to go with this collection, you could ask whether he successfully conveyed his ideas to his audience. Then again, the genius of this collection might just lie in this fusion of images of buzzing bees and the fierce, independent warrior. After all, every tribe needs a strong leader – a Queen Bee so to speak – and it was none other than her that we saw parading down Schwab’s runway.