'Cha-O-Ha', the title of Marios Schwab's spring summer 2013 show, means 'in the wilderness' in Lakota, and the designer's latest work took us in a direction that owed more to the idea of Pocahontas than Marlene Dietrich.

His warrior princesses wore dresses: tabard-like leather ones finished with thickets of metallic fringe, little black ones with lace-up necklines, and finely pleated leather versions with a fluidity that belied their fabrication. Sandals that laced to the ankle or up the calf looked like contenders for footwear of the season (so far--the Acne show isn't until later this afternoon). 

Amid all the toughness was real beauty. Some of the dresses looked sure to please Schwab's starlet fan base, particularly Kristen Stewart, who could use a little extra armour right now. Even the silkiest little pleated dresses were folded in a manner invoking strength and musculature, not froth. And the crystal-embellished, flesh-toned cycling shorts twinkling out from double thigh splits showed that Schwab can also deploy his love of crystal embellishment to sporty ends.

After applause that just about drowned out the drum-heavy soundtrack, a relieved-looking Schwab explained that he wanted to return to a more self-reliant reference point than all the film-noir polish of recent seasons.

'I wanted to go back to the basics,' he told us backstage. 'The femme fatale is always a character that attracts me--I always depend on a character that is dangerous. But I wanted to look at something rather natural... with tribal elements.' The collection 'felt like how I look at society at the moment,' including Greek unrest. 

Whatever the basis, his woman seemed like she could handle herself just fine, regardless of any tumult around her.

'But that's how we need to be. We are warriors at the end of the day, all of us.'

 
 
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