After getting her master’s in fashion design from Parsons last year, Melitta Baumeister conceived a capsule collection that was immediately picked up by Dover Street Market. And worn by Rihanna. This season marked her follow-up, and the pressure of maintaining the momentum produced an offering that excelled in form, even if it fell somewhat short in function. Baumeister, who is German but remains New York-based, homed in on a tight selection of hybrid materials to express her directional vision—cotton bonded with jersey lent surprisingly rigid form to wide trapeze-shaped pants, and spongy rings encircled the waist and armholes of a cropped top. Baumeister’s generous shapes often seemed as if they were suspended in space. The 28-year-old is at her strongest when she balances the volume: A black bib of fabric across the bust paired with a cinched, sculpted skirt evoked an avant-garde spin on John Singer Sargent’s Madame X.
Baumeister is not above embellishment, although her science lab approach to it involves a chemical bath and spacer fabric, coaxing translucent saltlike flakes to harden and cling to collars, pocket flaps, and a decorative belt. While the process requires a lot of R&D, the impact is oddly ethereal. But the clothes did come with a caveat. A band positioned at calf height around a sack dress restricted stride, and the showpiece skirt that had been molded around an inner belt to gape from the body would not be conducive to sitting down. One is loath to clip Baumeister’s wings with criticisms about comfort when she offers such a distinct point of view, but a few concessions of form to function will assure that the buzz remains well earned.