To say that Susan Cianciolo marches to the pastoral strains of her own sitar would be a gross understatement. And there was, in fact, a sitar player, sitting on the floor of the SoHo studio where Cianciolo previewed her Spring/Summer 2010 collection for New York Fashion Week. While other eco-designers are still trying to shrug off the yoke of hemp ponchos and Birkies, Cianciolo took a decidedly different tack on Tuesday, with a parade of neo-hippie livery that indicates either her sense of irony or bravado.
Wearing flowers in their hair, the models floated down an ersatz runway strewn with petals, then climbed atop wooden pedestals, where they stood beatifically like members of some kind of Margaret Atwood-esque post-apocalyptic cult. The oversized appliques, patchwork fabrics, hand-painted motifs, and unfinished hems telegraphed the wabi-sabi, handmade vibe Cianciolo is known for, as well as her talent for avant-garde artistry. The fact that the women were shod with crude fabric-and-jute sandals and the men went barefoot? We’re still pondering that one. Like a koan.
Sustainable fabrics, of course, are the designer’s bag, and organic cotton, vintage fabrics, and repurposed textiles made their usual rounds. Burlap—surely eco-fashion poison by now—even made an appearance, fashioned into a waist-cinching obi and embellished with ribbons and a corrugated-cardboard medal.