At the height of the flashy ’90s era hip-hop scene, when big black sunglasses and stacks of fake Benjamins littered almost every music video, rappers both real and aspiring flocked to Gianni Versace for their suits of armor: Gaudy gold-leaf swirls and Gorgon-headed prints were what to wear. The glossy bombast of Versace’s Baroque designs might well have been gold. They were status symbols of the new aristocracy.
Sarah Swash and Toshio Yamanka’s take on spring sportswear recalls a strain of that ’90s posh shine without the melodrama of Versace’s mythic imagery. Based in London, Swash presented “Equatorial Symphony,” a ready-to-wear collection overstuffed with jeweled panther heads, lush foliage and elegant dogs modeled after their pet Whippet, Candy. There’s an aura of 17th-century grandeur in the graphics, but Swash and Yamanka’s subject matter is a bit more whimsical—a grizzly bear banging on a drum, a chimp smashing cymbals-, for example. Blooming on laidback items like biking shorts, picnic quilts and scarves, today’s brand of the good life is less leaden luxe and more light as a feather.