Miguel Vieira F/W 2017

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As far as the Fall / Winter 2017 fashion season is concerned, Vi is for Vegas. Michael Vieira, a Portuguese designer and runway staple for over twenty-five years, returned on Wednesday with his usual cavalcade of sartorial flash. Much like the Strip, which synthesizes pyramids, neon, Caesar’s marble, and the New York Skyline, his latest line draws on the very idea of palaces and courts more than any one geographic or temporal aesthetic. The end result comes off as much Versailles as it does Tang Dynasty Chang’an and, I can assure you, will have debutantes and fashionistos from all corners of the globe paying tribute to its splendor.

The all white suit which started the show was one of my favorite pieces. “Suit,” even if it were a Harvey Specter-approved “suit,” wouldn’t really do the ensemble justice. I could call it a tuxedo, but the lack of a cummerbund and Vieira’s substitution of an intricately done up ascot in lieu of a bow tie makes me pause. Whatever it is, the ever so slightly silvered lapels and flap pockets supply the perfect accent to the bone-white base of shirt and pants. The buttons are glazed, almost lacquered, and they catch the light well. Honestly, the only downside to wearing this outfit is that you’re going to make everyone else look underdressed by comparison.

Ditto for the women’s line, whose tempting swirls and curves are sure to put the sin in Sin City. Other designers might try to achieve the Carnivale look through papier-mâché or feathers, but I think Vieira’s right to stick to laser-cut and fastened accents. Even when those more boisterous, traditional decorations succeed they kind of trap the woman inside because they demand that the makeup, hair, shoes, even the way she walks all conform to the overarching aesthetic. Muted accents, on the other hand, liberate their wearers, and with a lot of his dresses, you have the option of either donning them on their own, with a power pair of Givenchy slippers, or else matching them with white pants and heels for a casual night on the town.

The downside to Vieira’s line is that, much like the Strip, it constantly verges on self-defeat. Here the risk isn’t so much retiring into Elvis lounge lizard as it is retiring into a grandeur so reclusive that you end up shunning the world, or vice versa. Remember, subconscious associations and first impressions of the people we meet are both made in the blink of an eye, and they have a powerful, long lasting effect on how we perceive each other. If you walk around looking like the master of ceremonies from Eyes Wide Shut, or even just Christian Grey & Co., don’t be surprised when other people give you the cold shoulder.

Still, you have to applaud Vieira’s commitment to palatial beauty. In the whole line, he used only black and white, almost thumbing his nose at color, with its inherent and motley impurities. For the entire show, and especially in the final walk, statuesque models paraded around with supremely blithe faces, not letting a single strand of hair slip out of place. They did a great job, and bravo to them but, still, they weren’t even close to the most beautiful things on the runway.