Kati Stern’s Venexiana collection was as sultry, assertive and lavishly metallic as the line’s name seems to suggest (almost like it should be purred rather than spoken—Venexiannna). The edgy ultra-luxe eveningwear designer isn’t sewing to please the majority, so whether you find her gowns beautiful in their extravagance or more ostentatious than elegant, they’re always superb examples within their own category. While nothing in the collection did much to surprise or excite me, Stern’s architectural applications and delicate beadwork are worth a magnified look. I wish she’d let these pieces be without pushing for so many blingy embellishments, but nothing was expressly unforgiveable or overly distracting. Generally the collection projected an emboldened and sexy retro-glam spirit, reserving Stern’s signature tough-girl attitude for the show’s guiding anthem (“I Fought The War”) and a few armor-like mermaid gowns leading to the finale: Picture narrow trains, draping asymmetrics, all things shiny and sparkling, and super revealing silhouettes.
The danger in designing such grand collections is sustaining that level of energy and swank throughout, and because it requires treading a much finer line between taste and tackiness, it’s easier to poke holes around less-than-flawless looks. This was most apparent with the satin-and-tulle ballerina ball gowns, and the spidery Halloween-y costume stuck awkwardly in the middle (what was that?). The one diversion I thought worked beautifully—though also somewhat misplaced in this collection aesthetically—was the green and gold floral metallic print. It sounds awful, but it looked awesome.