Willow’s Monarch Movement collection

After a nostalgic spring, Sydney based Kit Podgornik is exploring new ground for label Willow with her autumn / winter 2012 collection ‘Monarch Movement’. Voluminous silhouettes and an overwhelmingly dark palette may seem a large leap for the womenswear brand best known for feminine drape and flattering tailoring, but this may very well be the point. Inspired by the transformation of the Monarch butterfly Podgornik treads dangerously-cliched territory, but her vision extends well beyond literal references – Willow’s creature is neither fleeting nor delicate.

This season heralds a triumphant return to standout tailoring, with options in wool, leather and even denim. Fitted bodices with asymmetric zips flare over the hips, collars cowl or stand in funnels, signature slim sleeves sit high under the arm. Cut to move with the wearer, these are throw-on-and-feel-invincible jackets, “urban armour” for the modern woman, and have a cult following because of it. Shrug-like standalone sleeves are a shrewd layering concept.

The printed cocoon coat is a standout in a bold combination of black and orange (somewhat reminiscent of Burberry’s tribal trench in colour, though in a shape very much its own). Curved seams provide directional volume, with only three joins cleverly manipulating the fabric. Classic in the black incarnation, a leather facing peeks through to show this is definitely cool, not just cosy.

Leatherette trousers, skintight on top with a modest flare, counteract oversized shirts and work neatly back with a high-neckled peplum top, trimmed with a jolt of bright orange handwoven fabric. Podgornik has explored handweaving for a number of seasons, the texture adding an extra dimension to tailored garments. Pixelated prints flutter across fabric, condensing into stripes on hems that drop like wingtips, flitting abstractly over shirts and suiting.

Embellishment is further explored through the detail of a wing, overblown to cover a swing jacket, singlet and panelled mini skirt. Realised in minuscule sequin beading the motif has a graphic, almost pop-art quality with a shell-like finish, a far cry from the diaphanous nature of the real thing. Softness is not overlooked, with plenty of silk crepe dresses and separates (staples in the Willow wardrobe) and a gown with silk tulle intricately pleated in to splits and panels.

While many of the existing clientele might find this collection harder to interpret from the lookbook (an interesting bearing as the label recently secured backing from Apparel Group, whose other brands are highly conservative), there is a definite sense that Podgornik is spreading her wings to assimilate an international consumer, and it will be fascinating to see how she transforms next.

You can see all of the Willow autumn (fall) / winter 2012 collection by clicking on a thumbnail on the left. From there you can browse through each of the pictures from the collection.