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Maison Margiela, Fall 2017 Ready-to-Wear


John Galliano for Maison Margiela, Fall 2017 Ready-to-Wear

It would take a very long time indeed to describe some of the outfits John Galliano dreamed up at Maison Margiela for Fall—and even then, the words might not help at all. Put simply: It seemed to be an exercise in cutting out pieces of clothing and layering them on top of whole garments. Sometimes only the tracery of seams remained. Nonsensical, you might say—and that’s quite true because Galliano is working at a level where the matter-of-fact language of clothing fails. To piece together what he might be getting at, you have to start opening your eyes: Literally look into the clothes, scan their every angle and texture, and switch on your emotional antennae. It was good to be pushed. This time, his innovation felt less like experimental doodling and more like a fully realized sketch with deep resonances within it.

That it was about America, there could be no doubt. A belted trenchcoat with a bra-top cut into the front turned out to have a message on the back: The Statue of Liberty’s crown was clearly silhouetted in a cutout across the storm flap. (The back view can be seen on the runway retreating in the second photo, just behind the beige pantsuit.) Galliano has never been a political designer. The wavelength he operates on is associative, poetic, and playful; but here was a symbol—liberty—which seemed to stand as a synonym for the creative freedom to mix up metaphors, materials, and fragments of cultures. He’ll look at things from new angles, always. If a furry bag suddenly looks good to him as a hat, then on it goes!

No one asks Galliano for a straightforward look-by-look narrative, but embedded in this collection were references to Marilyn Monroe, the days of the western frontier, blue-collar workers, corporate suiting, the military, and the multiple ethnicities and religions America (and the world) contains. At the beginning, there was Monroe’s oversize sweater, the remnants of Joe DiMaggio’s baseball jacket, and a shadowy blown-up print of her face on a shift dress. Further along: a knitted dress patterned like an American quilt, layered over a dotted organdy dress, and decorated with peacock feathers.

What might have been an over-cheeky mess—this is sometimes the case with Galliano—was calmed down by the presence of so many exceptional, wearable pieces. Along the way, there was a clear view of a pair of jeans with a fabulously sexy high-waist fit, incredible coats, and a brilliant retake on Margiela’s surrealist footwear: boots with half-detached kitten heels. The message, then? Surely a gentle one: that this is (and must remain) an inclusive world. Just one note to Galliano, though: Of 31 girls, there was only one black model on his runway. That is something he (and all designers) needs to rectify.

Text: Sarah Mowerhttp://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/fall-2017-ready-to-wear/maison-martin-margiela.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Raf Simons, Fall 2017 Menswear, No Fear in New New York.

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Raf Simons, Fall 2017 Menswear

Whether it’s the Statue of Liberty beckoning over the curve in the horizon as your steamer approaches from the east, or a frantic cluster of handwritten “Have you been detained?” posters waiting outside immigration as the automatic doors of JFK whoosh blessedly closed behind you, every outsider’s first arrival in New York is as different as it is meaningful. For Raf Simons, a designer who is no less vaunted in fashion than he is sometimes ambivalent about it as an art form—i.e., deeply—that rule applies.

Simons is a recent immigrant arrived to take the mantle at Calvin Klein: The king is dead, God save the king. But before he Makes American Fashion Great Again in nine days’ time, tonight was about the transposition of his own 22-year-old brand from Europe to the new continent.

What we got was this: Oversize satin-sheen topcoats and almost aggressively mundane boxy check jackets worn atop oversize pants with luxurious breaks at the ankle, bottomed by rope-trimmed chisel-toe shoes. The slightness of the models and the bigness of these pieces contributed to what Simons said he’d aimed to muster, a sense of children adopting their parents’ uniform. Sometimes the boys wore nothing but maître d’s waistcoats with their baggies, or attenuatedly utilitarian long-yoked work shirts. They almost always wore heaped beading at the neck.

Shiningly recognizable was the typographical design of Milton Glaser, transposed into rough-knit I heart N.Y. sashes and sweaters. Less so were the Raf Simons Youth Project tees, the service-industry Thank You (writ thrice) above Have a Nice Day graphics, and the seemingly random insertion of words including blow and forest in double-edged collegiate fonts onto split-neck sweats. Absolutely the standout detail—and gratifyingly cheap and easy to replicate at home—was the duct tape cinching at the waist of outerwear.

Simons’s rationale for all this was tangled but ultimately coherent. As he said: “I wanted to approach it from the combination of a mind-set of someone who comes to New York in the beginning, a kid let’s say. When you are a young kid you end up in the places that are very touristy, that confront you with all these things, the Statue of Liberty, the I Love . . . I wanted to go back to how I experienced New York in the beginning and combine it with how I experience it now. So this fresh young direction to the city and everything it stands for—and what is happening now.” The rise of Donald Trump after his personal move was arranged had changed everything, he added, and moved his process back to the DIY subversion of British punk under Margaret Thatcher.

Had his perception of New York changed since its Trumpification? Simons shook his head: “I can only see this city as a city that has incredible history, incredible inspiration, and incredible people . . . ask me do I think that you should stand up against what is happening in this country, then I say yes. Even in writing, I do not think people should be fearful—we should be more fearless—and not behave like everybody is expecting you to behave.” No fear in new New York.

Text: Luke Leitch, http://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/fall-2017-menswear/raf-simons.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Vetements, Fall 2017 Menswear, Paris

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Vetements, Fall 2017 Menswear, Paris

If anyone had Demna Gvasalia down as purely a streetwear revolutionary who shot from nowhere to lead a youth cult, then they’d have been taken aback by the sight of the silver-haired madame in dark glasses, fur coat, and a pencil skirt who stepped off the escalator at the Centre Pompidou to open the Fall 2017 Vetements show. “She’s the Milanesa!” Gvasalia chuckled, while he was marshaling his set of characters—a broad-ranging and subversively selected cross section of people-types—upstairs at the museum. “I got tired of just doing hoodies and underground clubs; we’ve done that at Vetements,” he said. “A new stage has to come. What we do here is always a reappropriation of something which already exists. So we took a survey of social uniforms, researched the dress codes of people we see around us, or on the Internet.”

Surprise is crucial in fashion, especially when there is so much pressure on a new designer in an era when constant praise, social media visibility, and global sales have accelerated him from zero to warp speed—fame! followers! hiring at Balenciaga!—in the space of little more than three years. The trouble, in these compacted, constantly connected times, is that backlash, the critics, and the trolls can set in really quickly with who knows what damage to reputation and sales. So, surprise, change Gvasalia did. Fall 2017 was a different kind of reality show, embracing all types of people, from that Milanese lady to a German tourist with a plastic anorak to a European policewoman, the stereotypical bouncer, a United Nations soldier, and a couple of shaven-headed skinheads who may belong to the Gabber club.

Is this creativity as we know it? Yes, on a technical level. The generous, oversize outerwear has been constructed from two garments joined together at the hems and looped up over one another. Hence, the glam Milanesa was actually sporting two fur coats, which, Gvasalia hastened to note, were vintage and upcycled pieces. That’s a one-off, limited-edition item by nature, but the double-layering of more generic garments, like nylon blousons, has genuine cold-weather usefulness about it.

What will keep people talking longer is the satirical symbolism—bleakly realistic, angry, and hilarious by turns—which came embedded within Vetements’s collection. When the Commando in his camouflage turned his back, he had a United Nations peacekeeping symbol printed on his back: “He’s a soldier, but he’s a good boy! It’s not his fault!” The Nerd, wearing a double-layered flannel shirt and Barbour jacket, had a T-shirt printed with a takeaway pizza menu. The down-and-out Vagabond, meanwhile, was sporting possibly the most topical garment of all: a falling-apart sweater printed with the flag of the European Union.

Does this collection, with its upgraded level of innovation, signal Vetements’s distancing itself from its roots? Not at all. The cult hoodies and T-shirts are being kept in a continuing, more secret category of their own—adding a value-protecting aura to them, and the possibility of distributing them in ways that defy the fashion system’s rules. Meanwhile, Gvasalia notes, pieces in this runway collection which prove commerically popular will be added to the permanently available range.

Moreover, there are bigger plans afoot for the company being laid out for the long term by Demna’s younger brother and CEO Guram Gvasalia. Vetements is reportedly about to move its headquarters and design offices to Zurich in Switzerland. Whatever surprises and sociological quips come from this direction next, these brothers mean to harness the growth their disruptive strategies have generated, and create something the industry is likely to take very seriously indeed.

Text: Sarah Mower, http://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/fall-2017-menswear/vetements.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Ports 1961, Pre-Fall 2017

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Ports 1961,  Pre-Fall 2017, London, 2017

Ports 1961 is one of those sleeper labels, which, once discovered, women tend to be evangelically enthusiastic—if not, quietly smug—about wearing. Since Natasa Cagalj took over the direction of the womenswear here, she’s been developing a set of strengths—the things she does with shirts, pants, knitwear, and coats, in particular. Here, for instance, is the place to source a statement shirt (for want of a better term) with extra-long cuffs and panels to tie and wrap, and to get ahead on the wide-pant look, which is gaining traction for Fall.

Her fits are accurate, and the quality—of crisp striped shirting and supple, floppy knits—is judged against the reality of what her mostly female team would spend money on. Evidently, they’re a resourceful lot, too: The prints of flowers are their own photos of vases they have around the studio, which is in London’s Clerkenwell. That last fact has been a bit of a well-kept secret, so far—but not for much longer. Ports 1961 is relocating its runway show from Milan to London Fashion Week in February.

Text: Sarah Mower, http://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/pre-fall-2017/ports-1961.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Hood By Air Menswear Spring 2017, Paris

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Hood By Air Menswear Spring 2017, Paris

Hood By Air makes things difficult. These images were shot days after its Spring 2017 show in Paris, a frenzied cruise in semi-darkness through a gay sauna in a seedy part of the Marais that culminated in a synchronized swim in the hammam’s subterranean pool (don’t think: Busby Berkeley). The clothes were glimpsed only in passing, as models pressed against bystanders and then moved along. “We revisit things that people know about HBA here, like logo placement. Because it’s recognizable in the dark,” said Shayne Oliver postshow. “We push newer ideas forward in the light.”

The light he’s talking about is Hood By Air’s biannual shows that are part of New York women’s Fashion Week, staged with increasingly polished production values (and, indeed, lots of lights). While Oliver himself is loath to put labels like menswear or womenswear on his garments, he understands the demands of presenting collections with those market restrictions. Hence the fact his Paris “shows” boycott the runway in favor of atmospheric locales and unconventional formats. “We just want to celebrate Hood By Air in the men’s market,” said Oliver. “When people are reviewing it against something that is very tailored, it feels weird . . . we’re not competing with them.”

So what are these January and July shows all about for Oliver? Research and development, it seems; he talked about the garments acting as the reference for the show to be staged in September, also acknowledging the very real business behind this creativity—that these clothes will drop earlier, satisfying retailers with an advance delivery. Almost like a Hood By Air recollection then, although the ingenious complexity of Oliver’s work couldn’t be further from bland commercialism. There’s something unsettling about what Oliver shows, often with implications of violence in the slicing, mutilated pieces distorting perceptions of the body within. But he saw these looks as a kind of “positive utilitarianism,” also linking to the military theme that ran through the season. Although Oliver’s utility wound up in hospital garb: Rather than garments slicing apart the body in attack, the outfits were centered around healing, with their trusses, bandages, and even built-in leg braces. What was bandage and what was bondage? The contrast between flesh strapped for pleasure and flesh strapped to cure pain was never quite clear. Oliver said these spaces were about relaxation, about a relaxed attitude to sexuality, and an ease with the body. It wound up like a Netflix-and-chill session watching The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, helped by a decibel-shattering soundtrack. It was uncomfortable, but it also pushed us out of our comfort zone.

What Oliver does is exciting because it speaks to people. His fashion seems progressive, difficult even, due to its odd proportions and strange slogans. Do you know where your children are read one, mimicking scare mongering that preoccupied previous generations and hasn’t entirely been shaken off by our own. These clothes are arresting because they’re a product of our times, of a designer plugged into groundswell movements in culture, rejecting the hierarchy and elitism and creating something that resonates. It also satisfies fashion critics who want to be excited, annoyed, and generally provoked by clothes that challenge. Which means that you don’t mind being crammed into a sweaty bathhouse and barely glimpsing fabric and flesh in the gloom. It’s an experience—inconvenient, but interesting.

At least it feels like Oliver is trying to say something new, to find his own voice rather than join the conversation about the tired language of luxury. That doesn’t even feel relevant when you’re talking about these clothes. They’re something else. And in a world where otherness is rapidly co-opted by a voracious fashion system and forced into its pigeonholes, Hood By Air’s steadfast refusal to kowtow to the system is worthy of plaudits.

Source: Vogue.com.
Text: Alexander Fury, Vogue.com.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Vetements Spring 2017 Ready To Wear, Couture Season Fall 2016, Paris

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Vetements Spring 2017 Ready To Wear, Couture Season Fall 2016, Paris

The Gvasalia brothers, Demna, the designer, and Guram, the business brains behind the Vetements phenomenon, pulled off a coup for the fashion credibility of Paris with a show in the Galeries Lafayette tonight. On many levels, it was an event which satirically contravened half a dozen arcane regulations of what is supposed to be the correct way for a label to operate. It was a collection made entirely with other brands, including Brioni, Schott, Levi’s, Comme des Garçons Shirt, Reebok, Canada Goose, Dr. Martens, Alpha Industries, Eastpak, Lucchesse, and Manolo Blahnik. It was both women’s and menswear, and it was magnanimously welcomed by the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture as the big ta-da opener of couture week. Yet it was so far from being traditional haute couture that it was shown, cheekily, in a department store—during regular hours, at that.

Twisting the conventions in terms of pre-existing generic garments—hoodies, trench coats, bomber jackets, jeans—is always Demna Gvasalia’s thing, and this was just one giant logical step further along that path. “We thought we’d go straight to the brands who make all these things best, and ask to do something in our way with each one,” he said. “The people who work at Vetements don’t really wear designer fashion—a lot of these are the labels they wear all the time.” The brands, from Mackintosh in Scotland to Lucchesse cowboy boot manufacturers in Texas, were approached by his CEO brother who set the legal and logistical negotiations to do with manufacturing, joint labelling, and selling. The clothes will mostly be made by the individual brands’ own specialist factories. “I’m explaining it to retailers that this is not one collection, but 18, which they will receive in different drops throughout the season.”

The “best in category” collaborations went to a couple of high-level places as well. One was the classic Italian tailoring company Brioni, who agreed to Vetements’s sacrilegious processes of gigantic oversizing, unpressed seams, and fusing linings to cloth with glue. Another was Manolo Blahnik, who was game for going all the way with exaggerating his duchess satin stiletto boots for them. “We’ve done thigh-high, so we asked, could you go waist-high this time for us?” Demna noted. He was also happy to add a personal touch to the Vetements collab by autographing his classic satin pumps in bleach. More difficult, said Guram, was winning permission from Levi’s to have an embossed Vetements stamp on its label: “This has never been allowed before in its history!”

Still: It was drive and the energy with which this collection of collections came together that actually mattered, and especially at the end, when it moved into innovative high fashion gear with Vetements first real dealings with eveningwear. There was a brilliantly subversive “couture” collab with Juicy Couture, using its signature stretch velvet in skin-tight catsuits and incendiarily sexy long skirts, which are slit all the way up to the bottom and are kept on with an internal thong. Finally, there was a series of chic asymmetric dresses in slinky ’70s jersey or chiffon, and then Lotta Volkova Adam, ending the show in this Winter’s new Vetements floral dress, this time with blue flowers on a white background. That, laughed Demna Gvasalia, was “a collaboration with ourselves!”

Source: Vogue.com.
Text: Sarah Mower, Vogue.com.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Raf Simons Menswear Spring 2017, Florence

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Raf Simons Menswear Spring 2017, Florence

Earlier this year, the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation contacted Raf Simons. They asked if he’d like to work with them on something. He said yes. That’s the shorthand version of the story behind the collection he presented at Pitti Immagine Uomo, perfectly chimed with a duo of Mapplethorpe exhibitions at LACMA and the Getty Museum, and the HBO documentary subtitled Look at the Pictures. It was the right time. And Simons is a Mapplethorpe fan, so it was the right artist. “I was honored,” Simons said after his show, his voice vibrating with emotion. Hence he shelved the idea he was working on for a collection (he wouldn’t reveal what it was; it may, he said, come out in a later show) and began his latest artist collaboration.

Normally, when Simons works with an artist, he approaches them. This time, the dynamic had somewhat shifted. The generosity of the Mapplethorpe Foundation’s offer is reflected in the generosity of Simons’s interpretation: There’s no outfit in Simons’s Spring 2017 show that doesn’t feature a photographic print of a Mapplethorpe. His curly-haired male models, with seductively slanted leather biker caps, often bore a striking resemblance to the photographer himself—though Simons stated that, rather than the artist’s doppelgängers, “every boy is a representation of a piece of work.” Each could be a Mapplethorpe sitter. The billowing shirts had shades of Mapplethorpe’s famous muse Patti Smith on her Horses album cover. Robert Sherman, a model whose alopecia made his skin approximate marble in his many portraits shot by Mapplethorpe, also attended the show. Simons had to clear third-party rights with all the sitters before reproducing their images. It began a dialogue that resulted in an immersion on Simons’s part in Mapplethorpe’s work.

That being said, the artist sat for himself a lot. Mapplethorpe was a fascinating character, and the art is inextricable from the man. “If you think about the work, it is so much about him,” said Simons, and, indeed, it was so much about the clothes he wore, too. On a voyage of sexual self-discovery, many of Mapplethorpe’s first pictures were Polaroid self-portraits, trussed up in leather gear, testing the limits of pleasure and pain. Later, he documented his own sexual fetishes; the leather scene and BDSM predominantly. Clothing was a vital component: At one point, Mapplethorpe began stretching his own (worn) underwear across wooden frames to form unconventional sculptures; later, he clad himself in black leather.

Simons knows all of that. Hence the fact his homage to Mapplethorpe felt so thoroughly rounded, so passionate and truthful. The subtlety of Simons’s multiple references gave the show depth—his palette of black; white; the bruised-flesh shades of crimson, pink, and purple; and the burgundy of coagulated blood; the leather dungarees glinting with metallic buckles. Simons spent two afternoons pawing through the Mapplethorpe archives of contact sheets. He struggled with the English terminology to describe those: He called them “maps,” which is a far more interesting and evocative notion when applied to Simons’s search, to find new territory for Mapplethorpe, to make him feel relevant and exciting to a new generation. That’s what he saw his role as.

I’m a Mapplethorpe fan too. I couldn’t help but ally this show to Mapplethorpe’s fascination with frames, with giving his imagery a three-dimensional element, a sculptural quality by framing and matting in plush velvets and exotic woods, attaching imagery to objects. Making his photographs more than they may first appear. Simons framed Mapplethorpe’s images with cloth, but then further framed them on the body: an image printed on a tabard, say, surmounted by the curtains of jacket lapels, or revealed on a T-shirt under a loosely draped sweater. Simons gravitated towards Mapplethorpe’s sexualized images of flowers, his idealized portraits of famous subjects like Debbie Harry, caught in coronas of light, and of artists whom Simons also shares an admiration for, like Alice Neel, captured a week or so before her death in an extraordinary 1984 portrait. Sex was in there, too; Simons was insistent on that. A down-stuffed jacket memorably turned to reveal an image of an erect phallus.

He also used the phrase “curation” to describe this show: “I wanted to approach it like a museum show, or a gallery show. Which has been done very often when it comes to Mapplethorpe’s work. Cindy Sherman did it, David Hockney did it. But always in a gallery.” Simons frowned. “I am a fashion designer. I thought the biggest challenge would be to do it in my own environment.”

The curatorial aspect made for a fascinating notion, especially in a time when so many designers appropriate and reference without credit—and when so many people throw around the verb “curate.” It’s indicative of Simons’s nature—respectful, quiet, intellectually hefty—that he saw this collection not as his creations with Mapplethorpe’s imagery tacked on, but as a collaboration akin to a gallery show, where his role was, at least in part, to best showcase the works he was given. But it was also to use those works to tell a new, exciting, and provocative story. To show us something new from the well known, and much seen, archives of Mapplethorpe. Which he undoubtedly did.

Source: Vogue.com.
Text: Alexander Fury, Vogue.com.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Gosha Rubchinskiy Menswear Spring 2017 Florence

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Gosha Rubchinskiy Menswear Spring 2017, Florence

A change of scenery, a change of pace. The menswear designer invited by Pitti Immagine to stage a show in Florence for Spring 2017 is Gosha Rubchinskiy. Moscow born, based, and somewhat obsessed, his collections thus far have unraveled his Soviet identity, nostalgically harking back to the time before the curtain fell, and immediately after. He’s offered branded sportswear like ersatz ’80s Russian Olympic gear, and reclamations of teenage clubbing attire from the mid-’90s. What would Gosha do in Italy, though?

Firstly, he found “the only Soviet-looking building in Florence,” to borrow the words of his stylist Lotta Volkova—a tobacco factory in the high rationalist style, built in the ’30s and abandoned 15 years ago. Most of the building was derelict, the show staged in a courtyard bordered by stained concrete and smashed windows. It also provided the backdrop for a short film by Renata Litvinova—Rubchinskiy and Volkova also featured. The film was dedicated “To Pier Paolo.”

Pasolini was the key inspiration for Rubchinskiy—the life and death of the man himself, as well as his creative output. He was a communist, for one, which no doubt appealed to Rubchinskiy’s Eastern Bloc fascinations (then again, so was Miuccia Prada). The sly undercurrent of sexuality that is so often evident in Rubchinskiy shows was here more explicit: The first model, bare-chested beneath a loose-cut pinstripe suit, could stand in for Pasolini’s teenage lover Ninetto Davoli, or Pino Pelosi, the 17-year-old hustler who confessed to his murder in 1975.

If Rubchinskiy has referenced generations of Soviet youths in seasons past, these Italian ragazzi felt tied intrinsically to the reality of modern streets Rubchinskiy has contributed heavily to—namely, the streetwear-clad legions of contemporary menswear. The designer showcased multiple collaborations with a veritable closet of historically Italian sportswear labels—Fila, Kappa, and Sergio Tacchini. Each iteration, combining classic elements of the brand with Rubchinskiy’s own signature branding, had the feel of black-market counterfeits. Indeed, it was only after the show (upon inspecting labels, and asking the right people the right questions) that you could ascertain if those Canal Street–style sweatshirts with Fila’s serpentine logo and Gosha’s name stitched below in trademark Cyrillic were real or make-believe. Most plumped for the latter camp. More fool them. There was also a hookup with Levi’s to create Gosha-brand denims and corduroy jackets.

More than any of Rubchinskiy’s other collections, this linked to the idea of a wardrobe: sportswear-focused, sure, but aren’t many people’s entire lives geared up to athletic gear? The standouts in Rubchinskiy’s Italian debut were, surprisingly, the tailored pieces, rounding out his guy’s closet, offering his loyal customers something new, and maybe even securing fresh blood. The opening pinstripe, a pair of double-breasted velvet jackets, cut confidently broad of the body and wide in the shoulder, even had a touch of another leading designer to their swaggering shapes. Giorgio Armani. That’s something you never expected of Gosha. It was certainly something he’d never shown before.

Last season, Rubchinskiy cited the end of a cycle, and the beginning of something new. Perhaps that means a move away from his usual stomping ground, both creatively and physically. The shift to Florence seems to have shifted his creativity. It kicked it up a gear.

Source: Vogue.com.
Text: Alexander Fury, Vogue.com.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Tim Coppens Menswear, Spring 2017, New York

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Tim Coppens Menswear, Spring 2017, New York

Remember clubbing? Do people still do that? You know—roll deep, head to some warehouse where the music is so loud it obliterates all reality, and emerge busted at sunrise to face the city you left behind the night before. That kind of clubbing. Tim Coppens remembers those cockeyed mornings. Their surreal attitude informed his latest collection.

Coppens got at his post-clubbing vibe via a canny mix of sharp geometry and willed ersatz-ness. The geometry was witnessed in the emphasis on grid check and houndstooth, and graphic color-blocking and stripes. The ersatz-ness, meanwhile, was most overt in the collection’s soft shapes, like the blouson bombers for men and women, slouchy trousers and distended shorts and shirtsleeves, but it was also to be found in his clever layered-look outerwear, lightweight coats and anoraks that offered a meticulous reinterpretation of sundry items sloughed over each other willy-nilly. From a purely practical standpoint, the layered-look pieces were a smart proposition—an armored-up, streetwise aesthetic in a format suitable for warm weather.

But Coppens’s most inspired touches here were in his details. There was a lovely poetic quality to the blurred stripe edges on his needle-punched knits, for instance, while his kimono-inspired jet print boasted an intriguing, unexpected tactility, inasmuch as the print had been cut out of the original fabric and re-embossed on houndstooth jackets. These kinds of gestures really captured the tone of bygone comedown mornings—the way the blunt shapes of the streetscape go all watercolor, viewed by bleary eyes; the surprise of sensation returning to dance-numbed extremities. Man, being young was great.

Source: Vogue.com.
Text: Maya Singer, Vogue.com.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Christopher Kane Fall 2016, Ready To Wear, London

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 Christopher Kane, Ready To Wear, Fall 2016, London

“Our mum used to embarrass us when she picked us up from school wearing one of those plastic rain hats,” said Tammy Kane, Christopher Kane’s sister. The very private world of the Kanes and their memories of growing up outside Glasgow in the ’90s will always inform Christopher Kane’s work. The Kanes suffered the loss of their mother a year ago, so the salute to Christine Kane was there at the beginning of the show, transformed into tied-under-the-chin plastic rain hats—the work of Stephen Jones. But searching for a linear trail of clues to make sense of how Kane processes ideas into clothes is never all that helpful. Briefing a crowd of journalists after the show, the designer spoke about reclusive hoarders, an outsider point of view, somebody living behind her own psychological bars. “She doesn’t know how to get out. She’s stuck.” Kane finds beauty in that manic predicament. “Things are so normal these days,” he shrugged. “So why not think out of the box?”

Really, the thing to watch a Kane show for are the creative fusion points where he produces something we’ve never quite seen before, trophies of fashion that you know on sight you’d urgently like to make your own. To this pair of eyes, that electricity hit halfway through this collection. The section of asymmetrical black tailoring, jackets, and scarves fringed with ostrich feathers in red, green, and faded pink had an off-hand elegance that would cause a mayhem of envy walking into any room. There would be no regrets spending the money on one of these: They had the quality of long-term classics a woman could—yes—hoard in her wardrobe to bring out again and again.

What else? Nearly ten years on from his neon body-con debut collection, which consisted of one tight (in both senses) statement, Kane is backed by Kering and has many commercial categories on the go and to show. The tubular Swarovski sparkle-mesh “bolster” necklaces the Kane siblings made for that original 2006 show continued as lanyards dangling sunglasses, or were whipped into whorls as big glamorous brooches around faceted stones. Crystal-dangling alphabet charms were pinned along necklines and scattered across skirts. A part of the show that involved haberdashery ribbons and scraps of fabric samples was also available in the form of one of Christopher Kane’s zip-top envelope clutches. All these came under the heading of little accessible things young girls can afford to show off with. A new gothic-type “K” logo on a beige sweater also seemed aimed at keeping a young audience engaged, which Kane needs to do to keep his brand hot.

Treading that line between reasonably affordable novelty and luxury is a really tough balancing act now—and obviously, that doesn’t just apply to Christopher Kane. On the elevated side, he can do a gray mink coat now, and the complex party dresses he’s made a name with are just as weirdly sexy—like the ones made from alternating stripes of tan pleather and sheer black lace that started the show. But the pressure to encompass it all, all the time, is a strain for every designer when the whole fashion environment is in upheaval. The underlying narrative of a woman in a disturbed mental state that came through Kane’s show today is easy enough to link with so many of this season’s other creative excursions into surrealism. It’s a mad world out there.

Source: Style.com.
Text: Sarah Mower, Style.com.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Balenciaga, Ready To Wear, Paris, Fall 2016

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Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga, Ready To Wear, Paris, Fall 2016

“How do you persuade a woman to wear a two-piece suit who is not the German Chancellor?” asked Demna Gvasalia, who has spent the last six months looking into the Balenciaga archive and methodically thinking through how the essence of Cristóbal Balenciaga can be relevant for a modern woman. Result One, the first look: a gray flannel two-button jacket and a slit pencil skirt, in which the shoulders are slightly curved and set fractionally forward, and the hips minimally padded. “It was the posture and the attitude, and Cristóbal’s way of working with the body I found interesting,” said Gvasalia, while admitting to nerves in the buildup to his debut. “Cristóbal was about the tailoring. I wanted a new way of finding that elegance for today, in a 360-degree way.”

Gvasalia wasn’t just talking about the profile created by the forward-leaning technical cut of the coats and jackets, the whoosh of volume in the fronts of skirts, and the inward-angled stiletto heels. This was a “profiling” in a much bigger sense—a pragmatic, intelligent, sweeping analysis of whole categories of what women might want to wear on a daily basis, if they care about fashion—or, rather, about dressing well. The effect was a surging visual high for women of many ages who saw, among the glittering earrings, taut ski pants, jeweled stilettos, oversize puffers, padded scarves, soberly chic checked sheaths and multi-floral dresses, an inspiringly whole and succinct set of wardrobe desires answered.

“I started by making a list of garments, which is what we do at Vetements. Like the shirt, the coat, the trench coat, the aviator, the floral dress, the sweater. Then we drape—I never do sketches,” said Gvasalia. “And then we ask ourselves: Friends would like to wear it? We asked Eliza, the girl with the glasses, who closed the Vetements show, to open Balenciaga. And she said, ‘Oh, a business suit! I like this!’”

The influential Vetements collective, which is led by Demna and his CEO-brother Guram, has swept fashion over the past 18 months with a reputation based on upgrading streetwear to boiling-point desirability. Gvasalia’s ability to look at a generic garment with new eyes was at work here, too, filtered through the Balenciaga lens. “We saw his amazing opera coats, and then I thought we could do these open, pushed-back necklines with these, like big Helly Hansen jackets—or with the trench coats,” he said. Realistic, useful bad-weather outerwear, with a fashion punch, done and dusted.

The exercise of finding points of cross-reference between a contemporary designer and the storied, often obscure oeuvre of a long-dead designer can often seem forced, sterile, over-academic, even creatively crippling. But in the case of Gvasalia, the surprise element is that he is coming at this task as a grownup who knows his priorities and doesn’t feel the need to over-egg reverence to the house. He laughed that it only struck him that the floral dresses—brilliant “tents” made from collaged scarf prints with sexy flashes of candy-striped legs beneath —were “a little bit Spanish,” as they were draping them. As Vetements watchers will also clock, floral dresses are transfers from last summer’s wildfire hit from the collectives’ label. Here, what started life as an upcycled old tea dress, which also holds memories of folk patterns from the Gvasalias’ native Georgia, has reached its 2016 apotheosis as a high-fashion object of desire.

Gvasalia also approached the vexed task of designing bags with the same method of boosting the ordinary till it becomes extraordinary. (Who needs yet another collection of fancied-up receptacles?) “We just thought they should be useful, so one is based on a toolbox, one is a cycle-bag, and the ones at the end are market bags,” he said. Of course, appropriating “found” objects is the practice set out by a different maestro of fashion, Martin Margiela. As it happened, Linda Loppa, the elegant woman who taught both Margiela and Demna Gvasalia at the Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts, was moving through the crowds of happy women who were pressing backstage after the show. Did she know Gvasalia was destined for success? “He had it already—the precision, the tailoring, and the humility,” she said. “I don’t think I had to teach him anything!” And then she smiled, serenely, speaking for every woman in the place. “I think I’ve found my new label today.”

Source: Style.com.
Text: Sarah Mower, Style.com.
All images belongs to the respective artist and managment.

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Thomas Tait Spring Summer 2016


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Thomas Tait Spring Summer 2016

Thomas Tait’s show this afternoon was one of those odd outings that don’t seem at first to be up to much, but then accrue in force as the looks accumulate. The impact of Tait’s latest collection generated from the ways the clothes forced your engagement, whether via the play of light on assertive, multicolor crystal embellishment, or the sound made by the jewelry that dangled off of certain pieces, jangling like cat bells. The most intriguing of Tait’s stratagems to command your attention were the porthole-like openings that decorated all manner of his garments—they were like little windows for Peeping Toms to peer through, and the more Tait reiterated the motif, the more you keyed into the collection’s compelling voyeuristic tone. Tait intended that reaction: As he explained backstage after the show, he wanted these clothes to create a sense of “awkward intimacy.” Job done.

Others of Tait’s engaging effects were more subtle. He was playing quite a lot with texture here, notably in his ribbed knits and his terrific jeans, with their patches of super-shiny black patent leather; other looks pulled you in with their wabi-sabi appeal, like the frayed quilted jacket and coat, or a leather A-line skirt made from antique calfskin. Tait also used the skin in his strangest look, a heavy jumpsuit featuring a monumental pattern and exaggerated perforation down the sides. The piece was interesting on its own, but something of an outlier in the context of the rest of the show, which emphasized rather accessible silhouettes. Tait’s stovepipe skinny knit flares, for instance, ought to excite widespread demand. Ditto his ribbed knits, and the cuffed jeans and denim jacket. If Tait’s goal was to create intimacy, he nailed it in those most straightforward looks: The best way to be intimate with clothes, after all, is by wearing them.

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Resort 2016: Louis Vuitton by Nicolas Ghesquière

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Louis Vuitton by Nicolas Ghesquière, Resort 2016, 2015

The Resort season has turned into a mini architecture tour. Karl Lagerfeld set up Chanel operations at Zaha Hadid’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul on Monday. Raf Simons will show Dior at Pierre Cardin’s south of France home next week. And today Louis Vuitton had over 800 rooms booked in Palm Springs, California, for the celebrities, international journalists, and clients that assembled here to witness Nicolas Ghesquière’s latest LV collection at the Bob Hope estate. The designer first laid eyes on the Bob Hope house 15 years ago on his earliest trip to this desert city; it made a lasting impression. Driving up to the place this evening, it was easy to understand why. The John Lautner-designed house (which is for sale, by the way, with an asking price of $25 million) is perched on one of Palm Springs’ central peaks. The views of the valley below are breathtaking, but the house itself is a scene-stealer, a hulking 23,000-square-foot marvel that, depending on the vantage point, looks like a grounded spaceship or a volcano but is decorated on the inside in what Ghesquière described as a sweet ’50s style. “The paradox of the brutalism of the architecture and the refinement of the interior was quite inspiring to me,” he said. “I love the idea of sweet and hard at the same time.”

That idea played out in the clothes. But first, a word about the setup, which was choreographed down to the minute. As the 500-odd guests milled around on the lawn, the gong that rings at the Fondation Louis Vuitton could be heard, establishing a connection between Paris and Palm Springs. A drone hovered overhead, capturing footage for the live-stream. And the 6:15-on-the-dot start time capitalized on the magic hour light before the sun dipped below the mountains behind the house. Plywood and Plexiglas stools were arrayed on the terrace below the swooping copper roof, and as the models began their exits, they could be seen walking across the house’s second floor and descending the staircase through well-placed windows. They circled the pool before making a circuitous path in front of a crowd that included Kanye West, Catherine Deneuve, Michelle Williams, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Grimes.

The lineup’s big news was its silhouette. Ghesquière set the current trend for A-line miniskirts in motion with his first Vuitton show 14 months ago, a fact he’s no doubt aware of. He pivoted here, sending out maxi skirts on desert boots paired with blousy cropped tops crisscrossed by leather belts that exposed a triangle of midriff. It was a directional look that had just a touch of the 1930s Hollywood starlet to it. From there, he was off and running, alternating printed and quilted silk housecoats like something a Palm Springs granny would wear with leather motocross jackets that inevitably called to mind the upcoming reboot of Mad Max. A black-tie-ready beaded scuba jacket and sporty, tailored trousers intermingled with printed eyelet prairie dresses that he suggested nodded in the direction of Altman’s classic 3 Women. And then there were the hot pants, cut high on the thigh and worn with everything from an army sweater to zip-front silk blouses to a boxy suede jacket.

Ghesquière has spent his first year and change at the brand developing his signatures, and despite the far-ranging feel of this show, he didn’t abandon them here. The oversized front zips he’s used from season one reappeared, as did the suede color-blocking and the metal studding. As usual, he made the most of the house’s leather know-how, cutting the maxi skirts in a leather so liquid it could be mistaken for silk, choosing a sturdier weight for a dress that he embellished with the four-pointed fleurs of Vuitton’s iconic monogram, and, most spectacularly, embroidering glossy swatches of the stuff in a snakeskin motif on a long, lean column of body mesh. As strategic as he remains, the collection’s lasting impression was its uninhibited sense of play; and the reaction was unanimous, this was Ghesquière at his most Ghesquière: experimental and unconstrained. California suits him.

Written by Nicole Phelps,
http://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/resort-2016/louis-vuitton

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Fall 2015, Ready-to-Wear: Christian Dior

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Christian Dior, Fall 2015, Ready-to-Wear, Paris, 2015

Throbbing Gristle’s “Hot on the Heels of Love,” the piece of music that soundtracked the Christian Dior show today, has a chilly, slaphappy Fifty Shades quality that seemed tailor-made for a collection whose animal essence was fulsomely described by Raf Simons as “something more liberated, darker, more sexual.” Something more than Dior’s femme fleur, in other words.

But it was also more commercial than anything Simons has offered before, in any of his guises. And saying that is no insult, because it underscores the confidence the designer has acquired in his time at Dior. He could backseat those curvaceous Bar-shaped classics in favor of man-tailored tweed pantsuits—double-breasted jackets and cropped, cuffed pants—and liquid mesh pieces that second-skinned the body. There was a nod to heritage in animal prints—Christian Dior introduced leopard print in 1947—but Simons’ homage was a blown-out reinterpretation that was so abstract as to look psychedelic…or maybe embryonic, emblematic of new life in the jacquard of a body stocking that Simons carried over from Couture.

That actually seemed like an apt metaphor for the whole collection. Simons talked about “a new kind of camouflage,” but what was it that was truly hidden here? Sex, of course. Sublimated under big, desirable tweed coats, in abbreviated coatdresses paired with thigh-high vinyl boots (go there!), in shifts collaged from fox with a tinge of unnatural nature. There was elegance and there was oddity in this collection—exactly what you’d expect from Raf Simons. But salability? Ah, yes, that was the news.

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Jil Sander, Fall 2015, Ready-to-Wear

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Jil Sander, Fall 2015, Ready-to-Wear, Milan, 2015

Frédéric Sanchez’s soundtrack—a blurry, impressionistic, almost atonal mesh of Nico’s and Chet Baker’s versions of “My Funny Valentine”—suggested chaos. But the set was a precisely ordered group of colored pillars, like a geometric Stonehenge. Rodolfo Paglialunga imagined his new collection for Jil Sander forming somewhere between the chaos and the precision. The designer would pluck order from disorder.

It’s all any artist tries to do, but Paglialunga’s challenge was a little more pointy, given the patchiness of his efforts to date. Still, he made huge strides with this collection. It won’t set Planet Fashion alight, but it registered as wearable, real-world, and properly proportioned. Credit the designer’s precision for that coup. Long coats and matching pants made a new kind of elegantly elongated suit. A bone-toned leather coat was a standout. The lines that traced a navy blue coat suggested something military, the most precise association of all. And even when Paglialunga started to mess with precision, he didn’t lose that line; it simply went diagonal. Shaved black mink was diagonally pieced for a coat. Dark green pony got the same treatment in a skirt.

Coatdresses were shadow-striped or crisscrossed with tape, always maximizing the line. You could follow the footwear for a subtext. One look featured correspondents paired with a pencil skirt and a full-sleeved knit top. Joan Crawford? That, at least, underscored Paglialunga’s disdain when he dismissed the ongoing debate about the dialogue between feminine and masculine in Jil Sander’s women’s collection as “banal.” If he could silence that debate, he’d definitely be able to put his own thumbprint on the label. So he showed a lovely, simple slipdress, and he closed the show with Hedvig Palm in a blush-toned coat that was forceful in line but indubitably womanly. Paglialunga is finding his feet.

http://www.style.com/fashion-shows/fall-2015-ready-to-wear/jil-sander

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Céline Fall 2015 Ready-to-Wear

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 Phoebe Philo for Céline, Fall 2015, Paris, 2015

There is allegedly no such thing as coincidence, so presumably there’s some meaning to the fact that Phoebe Philo was showing her new Céline collection on International Women’s Day, even though she conceded that she was very conscious of walking a line between the responsibility that has been bestowed upon her as the Designer Who Knows What Women Want and the borderline irresponsibility of pleasing herself. A challenging balancing act, for sure, except that in addressing her own wants and needs, Philo managed to find a new space for Céline.

“The best part of this job is finding out more about myself,” she said after the show. “It gets deeper and deeper into the roots.” And where those roots went deep today was into a new sense of playfulness. Big, fluffy pom-poms? Otters and foxes and deer as literal animal prints? Duvet coats? All that and more showed a new side of Céline. “Dressed-up-ness,” Philo called it. “I was never in the headspace to approach it before. I find glamour and sexuality awkward. When do they feel authentic? What’s real, what’s not?” Big questions. And Philo addressed them with a collection that, by her own admission, was a little Latin American. “The blood is hotter,” she said. “The approach is more dramatic.”

That was certainly helped by Brazilian musician Caetano Veloso crooning ardently on the soundtrack, and a set that had the flavor of a villa in Rio, with wood-grain pillars and terra-cotta tiles. They cracked as the models walked on them. Why was that erotic? And that was before knits that defined the body, and coats that were fervently trimmed in fox, and shoes whose heels were bejeweled, and a surreal Madonna nod with a knit bustier. And holsters! “There was almost too much going on,” Philo conceded. “That’s why there were other times when it was more gritty, more Northern soul, less passionate.”

Maybe by “less passionate” she meant plain knit dresses worn with high-tops (“Keeping everyone grounded,” she said) but they were a respite in a collection that otherwise shunted boldly into graphic new territory. This wasn’t the first collection this season that has exalted the artisanal work of the hand, but here it had a particularly striking naïveté: boiled-wool pieces with embroidery smashed up, broken down, as well as trims of fur and feather. Those animal prints were hand-drawings based on the illustrations in children’s books. Then there was the fox fur. “Loaded, vulgar, intense,” said Philo. “I’m trying to propose that we women go for it.”

How many times has it been said that design is autobiography? This collection was a testament to that truth: a freer Philo, a Philo in search of fun. Yes, the duvet coats spoke of the protection that was an early Céline signature, but here the sleeves buttoned off and some of them were peeled back, suggesting imminent breakout.

http://www.style.com/fashion-shows/fall-2015-ready-to-wear/celine

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Céline, Spring 2014, Ready-to-Wear

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Céline, Spring 2014, Ready-to-Wear

Back to the Tennis Club de Paris today to see what Phoebe Philo’s Céline woman has been up to. And, according to the mood book on each brightly colored, blocky seat, she has been looking at graffiti—not just any graffiti, but graffiti through the medium of Brassaï’s photographs, obviously. In the primal black and white images of street art found in the city of Paris there was a distinct clue to the mood of the collection.

As the first vividly hued silhouettes emerged, the models walking at a brisk clip to the underlying beat of George Michael’s “Freedom,” the feeling was bold, bold as Brassaï, if you will. But this wasn’t to be a retread of a famous Versace moment. The overlocking song was that Soul II Soul staple “Back to Life,” put through something of the wringer, with all its lazy, hazy connotations of summer in the late eighties. And the collection, too, had the immediacy of that song—and perhaps a bit of a debt to the band’s former shop in Camden, where leather Africa pendants were sold in large quantities.

The color palette had that late-eighties feel of something primary, urgent, graphic. Giant strokes and squiggles dominated in tailored T-shirt shapes over striped sunray pleats. At first, the Céline woman was like a Tony Viramontes illustration sprung to life. But what gave the clothes a real third dimension was the fabric experimentation; here, woven jacquards and knits dominated over prints and were beautifully done. The Céline woman became more intriguing, though, in her embrace of a certain ragga style in the elongated string vest looks, especially when these were layered with a yellow jumper tied around the waist just so. Then she was out of the dance hall and on. Like we said: brisk clip.

Yet, the last eight looks were the best of the collection. They didn’t feel as if they were in the sway of any history or reference point. Utilizing the large T-shirt silhouette, with a cutout in an abstract, metal-rimmed shape revealing the contrasting tunics layered underneath, then ending in a burst of cheesecloth skirt, these particular looks were outstanding.

Perhaps the undercurrent of sensual perversity of the last two seasons has dissipated from the Céline woman this time. But it seems she will never be that uptight or controlled again; this show was free, easy, and fun. This mood might be familiar, having already been set in motion by Dior’s Couture collection earlier this year (fashion’s tribes are clearly in the ascendant this season), but it also felt like a collection sprung from real life, from real experiences with a teenage immediacy. Philo defined it as being about “power to women. It was inspired by lots and lots of feelings. It felt like the right time to move on. I never really analyze; it is just what is there inside.” And perhaps that’s the real power of the Céline woman now: She comes from the heart, not the head.

http://www.style.com/fashion-shows/spring-2014-ready-to-wear/celine

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New York Fashion Week: Calvin Klein Collection, Spring / Summer 2014

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Francisco Costa, Calvin Klein Collection, Spring 2014, New York

Francisco Costa is celebrating his tenth anniversary at the helm of Calvin Klein this season. It’s a milestone, and the brand is doing it up: new Tribeca venue, A-list star power in the form of Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara (the face of the label’s just-launched perfume, Downtown) in the front row, and a glitzy party planned for later this evening. Costa, for his own part, didn’t let the moment slip by. True to the house’s roots, minimalism has long been the designer’s signature here, but you couldn’t call what he did today pared back. If he didn’t exactly play against type, he certainly tried a few things that felt new. “Elevated deconstruction,” he called his Spring experiment afterward. It was a gutsy show for Costa.

The collection started off much as they usually do at Calvin Klein—with white, but the exposed seam allowance on the opening look’s strapless wrap top and skirt flashed pink. Color was the first difference; in addition to that pink, there was the red, mint, and brilliant emerald green of handwoven cotton tweed. A black nylon material he used for a tank top and a full, short skirt was loomed with bright threads. Yarnlike threads also appeared as a deep fringe on a woven black leather jacket. Costa has traditionally been too controlled a designer to embrace something like fringe. Here, he made it a big part of the story, and the three swishy finale dresses especially were an argument for a more freewheeling Francisco.

Not all of Costa’s ideas about deconstruction were as successful. Some of the materials he used were too stiff (we’re thinking in particular of those wide-cuff painter’s pants), and it’s also fair to wonder how many women out there want to wear their seam allowances on the outside of their clothes. But we really liked the look of a pair of dresses patchworked from graphic leather and silk basket weaves. All in all, Costa more than earned all of the celebrating he’ll be doing tonight.

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Resort 2014: Christian Dior

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Raf Simons for Christian Dior, Resort 2014, Paris

A dynamic forward movement for Dior. First and foremost, Simons was challenging himself, the way Miuccia Prada does with things she feels she has no natural instinct for. Lace, for instance, has never been part of Raf’s lingo. He didn’t want the history or the romance of the stuff, so he juxtaposed it against urgent striations of color in a dress that felt like gravity was dragging it sideways. He laid lace over a bandeau top and metallic tap shorts for a carelessly sporty effect, and he streaked lace dresses with fractured, angular graphics. But if there have been times in the past when Simons seemed like an arch iconoclast, what is increasingly coming through in his work with Dior is his ultimate respect for tradition. Why else would he try so hard to make it relevant for the new clientele that is being drawn to his clothes? So here there was a gorgeous cropped blouson with an abbreviated kimono sleeve, couture and casual in one compact package. As well as a floaty, peachy sundress in a satiny twill that wouldn’t have gone amiss on Grace Kelly, but Simons bifurcated it with a zip. “A symbol of sport and dynamism,” he said.

He’s always eulogized the movement of Christian Dior’s dresses, but here, at last, he acknowledged the restriction of those original looks, so there were zips everywhere. And aerodynamism. And asymmetry. One message came through loud and clear: release yourself. That timeless incentive amplified the notion that Raf Simons is about to take Dior on a long and glorious ride. Tim Blanks for Style.com

http://www.style.com/fashionshows/complete/slideshow/2014RST-CDIOR/#1

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Christian Dior, Spring Summer 2013

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Raf Simons for Christian Dior, Spring Summer 2013, Paris, 28 September 2012

The Schubert piece that was playing as invitees entered the huge, purpose-built salons where Raf Simons showed his first ready-to-wear collection for Dior today was familiar, especially to fans of The Hunger, David Bowie’s 1983 vampire movie. Simons is an ardent Bowie-phile, and the very individual choice of music was the first sign that the designer was about to impress his personality on the massive edifice that is Dior. Where Galliano achieved the same thing by amping up the house till it matched his own delirious, romantic, saturatingly sensual historicism, Simons took a long, cool look at the heritage and found the strictness, the rigor, and a different kind of sensuality. His soundtrack spoke volumes: Detroit DJ legend Carl Craig, who took over from Schubert after the show started, delivers techno with warmth. Another telling detail: At July’s Couture outing, the salons were color-coded with Galliano-esque walls of lush flowers; today, the same color-coding was achieved with minimal, diaphanous curtaining. Rococo to Bauhaus—that evolution speaks another volume or two.

According to the show notes—and Raf’s own words—the key descriptor for this new era at Dior is “freedom.” But freedom from all restraint ultimately leads to the excess of self-destruction. What we saw today, by contrast, suggested an appreciation of the power of limits. How much more inspiring is discipline than free rein. That much was already clear, by the way, in the dress rehearsal that was Simons’ Couture show in July.

Its achievements were revisited here, starting with the cheeky Le Smoking passage that launched proceedings in both instances. It’s been impossible to ignore the media-fanned flames of the Raf-Hedi face-off that this week has generated. Simons managed to make his tux jacket-dress both a riposte to the YSL rivalry and a manifesto for himself. He de-stuffed Dior’s classic Bar hourglass silhouette by turning it into something for morning, noon, and night, worn with shorts, a skirt, or nothing. Simons is clearly going to be good at the de-stuffing thing. In his ready-to-wear, as in his couture, he carved off the big below-the-waist bit of a gala gown, leaving just the visual interest of its top half. Guipure lace was turned into a two-tone bustier mini. Double-facing was responsible for a spectacular set of oh-so-simple but high-impact pop shapes in bifurcated color. The collection’s most stringently disciplined statement was also one of its best looks: Kinga Rajzak’s navy and black dress in pleated tulle.

Still, Simons’ genuine, deep-seated affection for the tropes of couture is one of the qualities that has given a potent edge to all his design for the past few years. His full-skirted finale—the severe black silk-cashmere knit top, the erotic, iridescent balloon of floral-printed satin duchesse—distilled history into a special kind of twenty-first-century glamour. By Tim Blanks for Style.com

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