As the saying goes, the fox knows many little things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. As designers go, L.A.-based Kimberly Ovitz is very much a hedgehog. Over the course of only a few seasons, Ovitz has distilled the look of her line to a few key elements: a palette of neutrals, silhouettes clean and geometric, equestrian-inspired details, and an emphasis on draped jerseys and knits that gives her collections a quality of surprising coziness. That's not a bad formula for a designer, especially one as punctilious about material and cut as Ovitz is, and the fundamental wearability of her clothes is attested to by the fact that they are sold widely, at good stores. And it's very much to Ovitz's credit that she's managed to make her formula feel non-formulaic, reinterpreting her themes every season through the prism of art and her own keen sense of the moment.
This season, Ovitz's prism was the square, a form she says she reconsidered after viewing the exhibition On the Square at the Pace Gallery. "I was interested in the ways artists as varied as Sol LeWitt and Louise Nevelson used the form of the square to create order out of chaos," Ovitz explained at her presentation at MAC + Milk yesterday. "It seemed like an interesting idea to apply that to clothes."
Ovitz applied the idea quite directly, cutting cloth into large squares and then draping it into loose, nearly floor-length cardigans, and applying patterns of squares to a body-hugging minidress reminiscent of one her early best-sellers. "It's a commercial piece," she acknowledged cheerfully. Elsewhere, the square got stretched into a rectangle and repeated as cutouts on a leather vest, insets on leggings, and as tiered horizontal pleats on a pencil-skirted dress. The looks will be snapped up by retailers, and that's a credit to Ovitz, too—she has an impressive ability to take the conceptual and interpret it in an accessible way. Even so, one hungers to see a little more madness work its way into the designer's disciplined method. Previous collections have had more textural variety, which might have been welcome here. Ovitz has yet to really incorporate print into her collections. She clearly has the intellect and the design chops to address herself to that challenge, so it's a compliment when we say: We hope she tries.