The New York Fashion Week rotation is an exercise in visual escape.

A single calendar day in February can, quite easily, ebb and flow with enough beauty to nearly drown the ugliness living in the architecture of the American political landscape.

Australian designer Nicky Zimmermann seems intensely aware of this optical, emotional headache: Her muse for this season, a young and adventurous Victorian woman, liberates herself from her oppressive environment, galloping away into the distance on the back of a horse, off toward some nearing victory.

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Smartly titled “Unbridled,” the Zimmermann Fall 2018 collection is sophisticated and feminine as the sartorial world has come to expect from the designer. Only this time around, there’s a natural sensuality present that feels brand new. In her latest collection, Nicky Zimmermann drew from photographs of her parents’ honeymoon in Queensland’s Gold Coast to inform a beautifully exaggerated romance. “This time, I wanted it to be light and sunny, which to me, is very Australian,” she said. “There are amazing white sands and blue waters there, but it’s not about the beach; rather, it’s more about the freshness of that time.”

There’s certainly a sense of nostalgia in the freshness of Zimmermann’s latest offering: How fabrics drape and shimmer as though they exist in a whimsical dreamscape. From soft pastel hues and ruffles to tulle and crochet, the collection synthesizes a distant memory of a Victorian equestrian with the image of an 80s fashionista — one who may very well have been an earlier iteration of Zimmermann herself. The designs are technically beautiful: snakeskin collides with vibrant florals, cascading dresses are paired purposefully with studded cowboy boots, and wide brim hats are fastened around the shoulders of models. The collection’s outerwear, an inarguable highlight, blends menswear-inspired bomber jackets and shearling coats with flowing dresses or feminine skirts, paradoxically joining masculinity and femininity in a manner that is not far from the wearable imagination. There’s a grownup-ness to the collection that is regal as it is poised.

At times, the designs can feel disorderly, as though floral patterns are competing with animal prints or leather is wrestling with satin. But these visual errors subside to a beauty and sensuality we’ve yet to see from Zimmermann. And it’s precisely these daring combinations – these mismatching alloys of ideas that simply should not work, but do — that make the collection as captivating as it is.

This bold and fresh approach to her design aesthetic perhaps makes this collection Zimmermann’s most elegant and impressive to date.

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