Those who associate Joseph Altuzarra with a bohemian sensibility, luxe tie-dye and paisley prints, and Watermill straw bags, would have been surprised to see his spring 2024 outing at the New York Public Library Monday afternoon.

“The last two seasons were steeped in escapism, this collection I wanted to go back to something that felt more real,” he said backstage, sharing as references French New Wave cinema and Roman Polanski’s “Rosemary’s Baby,” to arrive at “veneers of propriety with sinister underpinnings.”

He did not namecheck Prada, but there were similarities to the Italian brand’s undone glamour in the organza pencil skirt and sweater sets, the exuberant pleats and bralettes, the lady coats and baby doll dresses.

“There’s more restraint in color palette and print, but also a lot of exuberance in silhouette, fuller shapes, shorter shapes, fabrications and yarns with metallic thread so you have perma-wrinkles, and a lot of embroidery dotted on. You have slips that are raw cut, hanging down below a skirt, a coat with dress underneath like a night gown,” Altuzarra explained, adding that the veiled babydoll dresses were “our four little ghosts.”

Wherever the inspiration came from, the designer is in tune with his clients: “Business is really good. What was interesting about the pandemic is it focused us on who our loyal customer is. I think pre-pandemic, I felt I was competing with other brands. Now I just feel like I’m building a community.”

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