by Alex R. Travers
Allow me to offer some insights into the wonderful world of Brian Wolk and Claude Morais, the designer duo behind New York-based label Ruffian. For starters, their last few collections have been markedly different from their earlier ones. If you’ve read Françoise Sagan’s 1955 novel, Bonjour Tristesse, which their Spring 2014 collection was inspired by—or have seen Otto Preminger’s 1958 film version—you’ll catch my drift. Back in 2006, Morais and Wolk were designing vintage-inspired pieces more suited for Anne—an attractive 42-year-old woman with a proud and beautiful face—rather than Cécile, an 18-year-old enchanted by chaos and cynicism. You’d look at older Ruffian collections and think that there was nothing equivocal about their luxe style. But this morning, they proved their undiluted creativity by mixing in some modernity and mystery.
According to press notes, the Spring 2014 collection focused on the freshness and vulnerability of youth. Before the show started, Françoise Hardy hinted to us via song: “C’est le temps de l’amour, le temps des copains, et de l’aventure.” Once the models came out, there were pieces to fall in love with, such as a silk crepe black and white jumpsuit and a silk pencil skirt in melon. Others were more adventurous: a biker mini skirt in white vulcanized canvas with exposed zippers. Sharing Ruffian’s metaphorical motif was a repeated floral print, which paid homage to a Givenchy floral print dress the actress Jean Seaburg wore, taking on the role of Cécile, in the film. Like Cécile, the clothes were very self-assuring at times. A motorcycle jacket in black vulcanized canvas had a rough edge. It also had the potential to be paired with any type of bottom, be it trousers, jeans, or skirts. Even if this season’s Ruffian girl wakes up every morning and says, “Bonjour, tristisse,” you’d never know it by the look of her.