Gory Girl Fashion
Jean Paul Gaultier
My Fresh Picks Of The Best Of Paris 2010!
It's hard to conceive of a more thankless task in fashion than taking over from a designer as galvanizing as Alexander "Lee" McQueen, but Sarah Burton is precisely the kind of quiet powerhouse who has what it takes to grab hold of his legacy and drag it where it needs to go to survive and prosper. As much as she worked beside McQueen for 15 years and clearly had a symbiotic connection to his very particular vision, it's her gender that is her greatest asset and point of difference, at least as it shaped tonight's show. The very first outfit could stand as a manifesto for the future: The tail coat is a trad McQueen piece, but here it was softened, its edges unfinished, and the hard, peaked shoulders that were another McQueen signature had been slashed open, relaxed.
"Graphic abstraction" was Ann Demeulemeester's catchphrase for Spring. The makeup, the hair, the music contributed to a mood that was like silent-movie expressionism: stark and dark. It inspired a strong show whose single-minded message was rammed home by repetition. Demeulemeester claimed the notion of protection defined the collection. So there were buckled breastplates, quilted obis, and funnel collars rearing up over the face, all of them cocooning the body in defensive ways.
Christophe Decarnin was putting twenty-first-century proto-punks on his Balmain runway. They wore biker jackets studded and safety pinned to the hilt; tight, bleached jeans or shredded cut-offs; and holey T-shirts to match their torn fishnet stockings. "It's a look I've always liked," the designer said backstage. "I keep pictures of it all over my office."
Karl Lagerfeld gets a lot of his inspiration from dreams, but he didn't need any help from them today, because he already had Last Year at Marienbad, that hallucinatory slice of avant-garde celluloid from the early sixties, on his mind. Some would say that, despite its storied reputation, it's the most boring movie ever made, but for Lagerfeld - and Chanel - it inspired a breathtakingly surreal setting: a monochrome ornamental garden, complete with fountains, which mirrored one of the film's most famous scenes. A full orchestra of 80 musicians sawed through romantic arrangements of Björk, the Verve, and John "007" Barry to soundtrack the 18-minute show (positively epic by today's ADD standards). The models, meanwhile, paraded in a carefully schematic way that had a little of Marienbad's arch, rigorous formality. It all conspired to make the boldness of the clothes even more audacious.
Galliano served the island theme best in a Hawaiian-printed halter dress, a hot little peekaboo crocheted silk number, and a ruffled turquoise shift embroidered with big orange flowers. But then the energy seemed to slip away as night fell over Michael Howells' driftwood beach-house set and the girls came out in a string of sheer silks.
It was back to the seventies at Elie Saab, as on so many other runways this season. The designer name-checked Bianca, Lauren, and Diane, and he attempted to conjure the wild nights of Studio 54 with a lineup that was long on jersey, chiffon, sequins, and the decade's requisite platform sandals. If it felt like a tepid reimagining of that heady era, especially in light of the disco-y decadence of Louis Vuitton a few hours later, that may be partly explained by the fact that Saab does such a big business with the Hollywood crowd. No actress wants to land on the worst-dressed list, which means today's red-carpet dressing only pushes the boundaries so far.
Jean Paul Gaultier
To start Jean Paul Gaultier's show today, Gossip's lead singer Beth Ditto hit the runway in a laser-cut silver dress, the strips rippling over her plentiful curves. Gaultier was one of the first designers to put bigger models on his runway, and there were a couple in the lineup tonight, Crystal Renn among them. But the size debate was just one thing on a very crowded agenda. Gaultier's catwalkers wore Joan Jett wigs, and her most famous songs were on the soundtrack. A rock 'n' roll attitude seemed to infuse the show's styling, too. In addition to their spiky hair, the girls accessorized with lace body stockings and Dr. Martens with the backs cut away.
The skin thing was a big deal. As a designer, Elbaz is feeling put out by the way women can buy themselves a new body these days, courtesy of their local cosmetic surgeon. He loves a wrinkle. So he created a collection that was a hymn to skin: wrinkled in Fortuny-like pleating, stretched in all those sheaths. It was a spectacular foundation on which he could lavish increasingly heady colors.
The religious undertone made sense if you were aware that the designer was paying homage to Jimi Hendrix, a rock god deserving of a temple.
Today's outing may not have scaled the heights of sheer beauty and emotional resonance that Yamamoto is capable of reaching, but the designer's defiant individuality is still intact. Perhaps that was what he was getting at with the slogan tee.
My Faves From The Collections 2010!
Dolce & Gabbana
Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are coming off a big year, in which they celebrated the 25th anniversary of their business. What better way to move into their next quarter century, their thinking went, than with the blank slate of an almost all-white collection? The idea behind this quite lovely show, the designers explained backstage, was a hope chest. That is, the things new and handed down that a bride might pack before she sets off on the next chapter of her life.
Alberta Ferretti got back to the garden with her new collection of floating floral chiffons. It was a departure from the luxe lady look she's been offering for the past few seasons, but "women want to change," Ferretti insisted backstage. "Fantasy is so important."
Dundas' seventies-inflected Spring collection is mostly long, but it has his sultry signatures all over it. He's building a house on a Greek island, and the show had an unmistakable Mediterranean vibe, all sea blues and spice colors—the Cyclades by way of the subcontinent. "Bohemian beachcomber done luxe" is how the designer rather aptly described it beforehand. The first few dresses were souped-up riffs on the traditional Greek shirt, with a scrolling blue design on ruffled and flounced white cotton, washed for a lived-in feel. Clingy jersey T-shirt gowns in archival Pucci prints went to India and back for the tie-dyeing that gave them their sun-faded look.
Glamour is back at Gucci, and it looked right at home. "I pushed the accelerator on the provocation," the designer said afterward, crediting the late-seventies photographs of Guy Bourdin, David Bailey, and Chris von Wangenheim for the bold color palette. The program notes added Marakkech to her list of inspirations, which inevitably meant that Yves Saint Laurent was in the air as well.
Etro - Show Your Sheer
For Spring, Veronica Etro matched city smarts with a strong tribal influence, but civilization well and truly trumped barbarism, with ethnic patterns cut into tidy printed separates, shifts or shirtdresses, and cropped, high-waisted pants to temper the flighty scarf dresses.
D&G is aimed at their youngest customers, so the cabbage rose-print tanks unbuttoned to reveal a hint of bra, and the mismatched bubble shorts and gingham head scarves looked sweet, but not that innocent. Snow White, who eats a poison apple of her own, by the way, was apparently a muse; she and her seven Disney dwarves appeared on T-shirts and tanks, and pinafore dresses got equal runway time with strapless rompers, one of which happened to be accessorized with an apron.
Mochino Cheap & Chic
Molto fresca. Those were the words Rosella Jardini used for her Cheap & Chic collection, but they were a spot-on description of the production itself, too. Having rejected tidy rows of seats in favor of an elevated runway and a cavernous space through which waiters passed with prosecco and pizza, she said, "It's more like a party, not a show." After everyone had enjoyed a drink and a slice, the models took to the catwalk, pausing halfway to blow kisses at the crowd
Prada - Polish Your Preppy
Prada delivered electric hits of orange, green, blue, and radioactive violet in deliberately plain cotton suits, like the most (extra)ordinary uniforms. That theme continued in all the stripes. Prisoner, postman, sailor, orderly: The uniforms might have taken a cue from her last - equally special - men's collection, but they were also an evolution of Fall's spectacularly womanly shapes. This time around, however, the glamour was raw, amplified by the pop-colored stoles the models were toting, the graphic silent-movie makeup by Pat McGrath, and the severely sensual outfits in basic black that closed the show as the soundtrack crackled with the static of an old tango record. Miuccia's message was crystal-clear. As she said backstage, banana earrings vibrating: "It's time to be bold." And that's one maxim that, with any luck, will rub off on the world at large.
Not for Donatella Versace, the feminine floor-sweepers that are floating up and down Milanese runways this week. "Rigor with sensuality" - that was her focus for Spring.
And the focus was absolute: A handful of elements combined to create a statement that was limited but strong.
Designers I Love And Some Reviews From The Fashion Folks
"Super-sophisticated," he called her. His sister Tammy nailed the essence of the latest Kane collection as "Princess Margaret on acid." A more contemporary spin, and a drug more relevant to the lurid fabulousness of the clothes, might be Margaret on meow-meow (a.k.a. cheapo ecstasy substitute mephedrone). An opening passage of fluoro lace was actually perforated leather with a vinyl coating, to make it "pleather-esque," Kane said.
Asked to define what was "Swedish" about the clothes, the designer answered, "Spiritual, natural… hippie." The question of identity was a valid one, because it is actually quite hard to discern just what makes Acne distinctive—and yet it's a wardrobe staple for an impressive number of stylish women.
Basso & Brooke
Without the polymorphous diversion of Basso's prints, Brooke's silhouettes took the "prim 'n' proper" (their words) effect to a repetitive extreme. In the high noon of London's glorious print renaissance, this was an odd moment for two of its pioneers to go quiet.
Mark Fast's challenge for his first stand-alone show at London fashion week was brutally clear: How could he build an entire collection from his particular area of knitwear expertise, which is so defined…no, make that restricted?
His bizarre story line - a utopia destroyed by acid rain - couldn't offer much by way of inspiration, though perhaps Fast took its central notion of destruction and resurrection to heart when he combined his trademark open-stitch knits with sweeping swaths of fringe, thus giving something that is limited by its body-consciousness a whole new movement and openness.
Vivienne Westwood Red Label
Westwood's old-school punk pals took their seats, editors flipped through brochures for the legal organization Reprieve, which works on behalf of prisoners at Guantánamo and on death row.
Would that the women on Westwood's runway were as engaged as Westwood herself. That's not to ask that the designer's collections be radical—her legacy there is secure, her influence felt daily. It's plenty fair that, at this point, she simply enjoy making clothes. Her high-spirited collection for Spring demonstrates that she does.
For her first stand-alone show, Mary Katrantzou came up with a conceit so dazzling, so artful, but so elementary that it made you wonder why no one else had attempted it. She'd been looking at the highly stylized seventies photography of Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin when it occurred to her that the interiors in the pictures were just as important as the models. "With this collection, I wanted to put the room on the woman, rather than the woman in the room," Katrantzou said after the show.
For Spring, Williamson conjured an exotic locale with no Pacha, no Amnesia, and not much of anything else. "My storyboard is a girl marooned on a deserted island," he said. "She has her Western wardrobe, and over time she becomes one with nature, picking up organic textures and materials"
Sienna and Savannah Miller called their Spring collection Jericho, inspired by Joni Mitchell's album Don Juan's Reckless Daughter. Their road-tripping muse is a Kerouac-reading dreamer with an itinerary —fifties-era Mexico, Thailand, the Nevada desert, perhaps her native Texas. She's also got a hawk eye in vintage shops and ethnic markets.