A frilly, Dumb and Dumber-esque tuxedo shirt in pastel colors seems on its surface like a very un-Tibi piece. This is the brand of the “creative pragmatist” (a term designer Amy Smilovic coined to describe her stylish-yet-utilitarian philosophy), with pant styles named after Constantine Brancusi and Alexander Calder. Ruffles, really? “These tuxedo shirts are one of my favorite things. I just feel like it’s going to go over a bikini, it’s going to go out at night, it’s going to be a gym cover-up,” Smilovic said ahead of the show on the west side of Manhattan on Saturday. And now it makes sense. These tops won’t be worn in context with a coordinating suit, but semi-ironically. Now that’s on-brand.
Smilovic has really honed in on her ability to help people get dressed and put together wardrobes with personality and intrigue. She released a book early this year called The Creative Pragmatist, which acts as a guide to getting dressed, and also spends a fair amount of time teaching her followers online how to build outfits—provided they would describe their style as chill, modern, and classic. Smilovic is solid in her philosophy, which shows up in the clothes. “More and more we [Tibi] are feeling an unbelievable confidence that we know who we are, and it’s freed us up to just make the things we love, and not be focused on what happens in fashion outside of our world,” Smilovic said. “This season, more than ever, is finding that place where you can just be, and enjoy trying new things without overly questioning yourself.”
Spring 2024 was certainly aligned with her aesthetic, with its asymmetrical blazers, ankle-skimming skirts, and relaxed trousers paired with flats. That said, a runway show isn’t always the best format for diving into the details of the clothing that Smilovic loves so much. There’s not much to wonder about a slouchy navy suit, or a maxi skirt and tank top. But those details are genuinely interesting. For instance, many of the models wore what looked like socks and ballet flats, but were really a carefully developed boot. Some blazers had little cutouts that you could thread your watch through to show off your timepiece. LL Bean sent over some of their Boat and Totes, which were reworked with belts along the top and grips on the bottom to be held under the crook of one’s arm (though you could still use the straps). Some of the draping was also quite pretty, such as a mostly unassuming gray sweatshirt with a billowing back. The collection closed with those three tuxedo shirts, worn with jeans. Which maybe was the Tibi way of saving the most outlandish for last.