Designer Andrew Holden prefaced his Conference of Birds spring/summer 2009 show with a poem translated from the 12th-century Arabic text for which his collection is named. A wanderer is caught in the desert, drifting in and out of sleep and bewitched by a mirage of an oasis at the horizon. Certainly, Holden created his own mirage on the runway Tuesday through his careful, yet hazy take on traditional formalwear.
Throwing aside the usual dark heaviness of the formal suit, Holden crafted his well-tailored tuxedo waistcoats, jackets, and pants out of breezy and natural twill and canvas. Black and gray ripstop and canvas jackets floated over charcoal voile and linen frilled tuxedo shirts. The overall palette settled in the desert range. Intimations of hazy sunlight and sparse vegetation punctuated the earth tones. Details like orange, green and charcoal dip-dyed gradients on tank tops and v-necks suggested both the aforementioned horizons, desert skies, and cool pools. But unlike the Bedouin, Holden's enlightened nomad could easily step waltz into the cocktail wearing his cream-twill tuxedo pants or play the globe trekker in the gray yak-hooded vest with bright yellow pockets. Even though it always had the heat of the desert in its crosshairs, Holden's spring/summer line was as refreshing as a drink from the deepest well.