On the sunny Friday afternoon, wind threaded through the boxwood on the rooftop of the Gramercy Park Hotel. “I Love You Always Forever” by Donna Lewis played as classic Amsale gowns poured forth.
The Ethiopian American designer responsible for introducing a pared back sophistication to the maximalist world of 1985 is no longer with us. She passed just weeks before the show. But her point of view did not waver.
This season was a full one, with 66 dresses spread across two lines, Amsale proper and Amsale Nouvelle. While there was plenty of silk, it was spun in minimal silhouettes, designed to softly accentuate the dip of the collarbone, slope of the shoulder, curve of the back.
To the groundbreaking designer, sensuality was not found in the world of lace or tulle or beading—it existed already, in the female form. When you think about the landscape in which Aberra’s point of view emerged, you will understand how powerful it was at the time (the confections of the ’80s feel needlessly indulgent by comparison). Hers was a nuanced vision of femininity and strength that has stood the test of time.
Or even, arrest time. The music stopped. A striking Ethiopian model floated down the aisle in the first gown the designer ever created. Tears were shed. The tribute to Aberra was as stunning and restrained as the bridal gowns that have already fashioned her legacy.