Names can be misleading. Anna October called her spring collection “Pleasure Garden” not as a racy allusion or a sexed-up bid for the male gaze. Rather, it was a collection made for her own pleasure, a condensation of a summer spent with her three best girlfriends in Hydra, Ibiza, Antibes and Kyiv. A “Tender is the Night” adventure, as she called it, and the dresses it inspired. It also reflects where she is in her life right now: a designer with more than 100K followers, a determined businesswoman who has made a go of it in Paris while also keeping her studio up and running in Kyiv, and someone who, on top of that, decided she needed a hobby. So she recently picked up photography and shot this lookbook. “I always wanted to be able to open up my vision of how I see textiles, colors and the woman,” she said.
A showroom visit revealed one of October’s largest collections to date, created around the idea that “you don’t have to reveal all.” True to form, it was long on dresses, with bustiers pared back to just the essential and satiny shades of scarlet, salmon-colored hammered fabric, buttery yellow, white and black. A salmon-colored number, for example, had a new back-baring cut that still seemed to retain a sense of mystery. The same fabric returned in a tailored skirt suit that can be worn with or without its bra strap-style belt.
Elsewhere, a draped ensemble in butter yellow was not a dress, but rather a top that just covers the shoulder, with a matching skirt lined on the inside “to keep things safe.” A draped black dress likewise had plenty of drama without giving too much away, and a black miniskirt nodded to spring’s obsession with flowers via 3D blossoms. October’s experiments with crochet found her mixing weaves on a soft cotton bodysuit, designed to slip under a satin evening trench. The pieces looked stronger than in the past, but the designer remains a romantic at heart. “In my mind, my clothes are about city dressing but also being sensitive, tender, and always ready to fall in love,” she said.
October’s base is right with her on that. So, as it happens, is J. Crew, which is readying a capsule collection under the designer’s name, just in time for the holidays.