Jill Stuart has carved a comfortable niche for herself throughout her various collections—though it may fluctuate slightly, the Stuart look is unabashedly feminine. Even when it toughens up, the silhouette remains approachable, uncomplicated. Spring 2014, however, sees Stuart approach a new descriptor for her clothes: cool.
There's an edge present that was missing before. Besides having a dark palette for a spring collection—though there is plenty of white, there are no pastels or sherbert colors here, thanks—the looks were represented by stud-like embroidery, leather and thrilling cut-outs. Indeed, there was a whole mess of breast-baring pieces (completely sheer bodices and dresses of inventive laces) capable of helping Stuart shed her well-worn image. Even when it's daring, the Stuart look isn't far from its roots—the sheer portion of a body-baring dress is still touched with sweet, femme detailing, like a peter pan collar and floral sleeve lace. The meeting of these styles is what's unique.
The most exciting pieces of the collection play with silhouette, as with coordinating two-pieces where the top's sleeves nearly reach leg-of-mutton proportions. There are also some distinct 70s touches, like a diagonal-striped, long-sleeved boxy pullover and flare-sleeved jackets with cool crosshatched embroidery. All in all, it's a collection that rewards Stuart for stepping a bit outside her usual bounds—for inching sweetly toward the darker side.