There's often a lot of discussion around whether certain ready-to-wear fashions actually have a place off the runway. That debate raged in my mind as I viewed Peter Som's Spring 2014 collection. I'm hard pressed to come up with a place one, even one with a perfect body, would wear Peter Som's tweed shorts suit worn over a button-up, collared crop top. It was distracting in a way only something impractical and unattractive can be. The presence of such a ludicrous outfit detracted from the fact that in other ensembles, Som really showed how the crop top can actually look sophisticated and elegant on the right body, in the right situation. (The right body being that of a tall model with a sexy flat midriff. The right situation being anywhere you could reasonably wear a swimsuit. Under no other circumstances does this work.) I didn't blink at a high-waisted bikini under a blazer because it worked. But there's only so far you can push the swimsuit as daywear or business casual midriffs.
Som named his Spring 2014 aesthetic as "surf style goes below 14th Street." He must have explored a very rarefied surf culture. Others have seen fit to liken this collection to the beach bum style popular this summer, which is rather baffling. Maybe you need to know beach bums with yachts to get the reference.
It's really unfortunate that these crop tops and this disassociation with reality were so distracting, because the rest of the runway was filled with the modern, sophisticated fare we've come to expect from Som. There were masterful prints — architectural geometrics, wide gray, black and white stripes, large florals and a blue wave pattern.
There were more than a few standout dresses and skirts that would work for day or evening. A creamy white A-line with drop-waisted paperbag skirt was as charming as a striped shift draped and twisted at the hip. A white jersey dress with wide geometric bands of black actually achieved the office-to-beach-soiree versatility Som seemed to strive for. There were also some really attractive floaty wide-legged pants.
All in all, I'd have to call this collection a mixed bag. There's only so far you can reinvent surf style, and Som was far more successful when he stayed in his wheelhouse of effortless elegance.