Magazine Contemporary Culture


Celine resort 2013

Celine Resort 2013

Phoebe Philo for Celine, resort 2013, June 2012

Three years into her run at Celine, Phoebe Philo has been mainstreamed. Her accessories have become the status symbol for the upwardly mobile woman—you can’t go a block on the Upper East Side without bumping into a Luggage bag. For Resort, she’s introduced two new shapes: the All Soft, a zipless, fold-over tote with a “baby” pouch inside, and the Edge, which as its name implies, has a more structured silhouette.

On the clothes front, this season wasn’t so much a moment to introduce fresh ideas as it was to reassert house signatures. Leather continues to be of paramount importance. It was cut into variegated stripes for t-shirts and used on coats with horizontal panels that unzipped to create different silhouettes. Python featured too, most extravagantly as the patch pockets on a cashmere sweater. And scarf prints also made a reappearance, most interestingly on a pair of shorts and a shell top that were both veiled in a sheer white material.

If there’s a piece that the Philo girl will have to have, it’s the full, flaring trousers with deep stripes of contrasting color at the hem. The cut is great, for one, and two: Those in-the-know will instantly peg them as Celine. For a fashion insider, that produces the same kind of frisson as carrying a Luggage bag does for that Upper East Sider.

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Bill Gaytten for Christian Dior, Fall 2012; New Look

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Bill Gaytten for Christian Dior, Fall 2012, Paris, 2 March 2012

The Christian Dior show today was a frustrating experience. The dither that has surrounded Dior since John Galliano’s departure demands resolution, if only because you never again want to hear one single morsel of groundless speculation. With Dior’s couture collection in July, it felt like Bill Gaytten was courting resolution by laying out his very capable wares. With today’s show, it felt like he was putting them away again.

“Soft modernity” was Gaytten’s theme. It was a notion whose nebulosity dogged the catwalk, where deflated New Look looks simultaneously evoked Dior’s stellar past and its lunar (as in moonstruck) present. The show began well enough. The focus was on the waist—well, it would be, wouldn’t it?—emphasized by a peplum’s flare or a skirt’s fullness.

Classic portrait necklines were literally twisted in leather. Equally classic houndstooth was exploded into an abstract pattern. The models’ knit skullcaps were a streamlined touch. But then, where, in the past, you might have expected takeoff from such a restrained start, there was just more of the same. Perhaps there was some well-reasoned commercial point to that—and rumors suggest the label has been doing fine under Gaytten—but it felt like Dior by the numbers.

Program notes mentioned “a ballet femininity,” and the full silk tulle skirts that made up the collection’s evening component had a feel for that (particularly a shorter-skirted, long-sleeve raspberry outfit), but there was an intangible lifelessness to the clothes.

Maybe it all comes back to the peculiarity of Gaytten’s challenge. How do you muster enthusiasm for your work when you have no clue what tomorrow may bring?

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Valentino, Menswear, Fall 2012

Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli for Valentino, Menswear, Fall 2012

Once upon a time, women had a dressmaker; men had a tailor. The law of supply and demand elevated those services into haute couture and bespoke, which have, ever since, been the summit of human achievement when it comes to cut and cloth. But they’ve also remained a Venus and Mars-style proposition, which gave Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli’s proposals for the latest collection of Valentino’s menswear a twinge of subtle subversion. Inject the spirit of couture into the traditions of menswear?

Well, Chiuri and Piccioli felt it was worth a try. They were, after all, the special invitees of the 81st edition of Pitti Uomo in Florence, and that honor usually inspires designers to stretch their creativity. In their case, there was an added impetus. Valentino staged his first fashion show in Florence 50 years ago, and the designers who carry on his name wanted to give their menswear a sense of his legacy. “Memory is very important to innovate,” said Piccioli. “We wanted the same language in a different moment: the sharpness of shape, the belief in workmanship. We wanted to sculpt lightness.”

Their mood board told the tale. Monochrome images of Mastroianni and Delon in the early sixties, at the pinnacle of their male gorgeousness, were echoed on the catwalk in leanly tailored jackets and narrow trousers cropped over sockless shoes. The sharpness of white shirts and skinny black ties amplified the sixties feel, but at the same time, they had the new-wave flavor that niggles at the edge of so much that Chiuri and Piccioli do. Not darkness or danger, insisted Chiuri. “It’s something private. This is not a show-off collection. You need to look inside.” That in itself is a criterion of traditional couture—that a garment could be so perfectly crafted that it would look just as good when it was turned inside out. And here that challenge was met with thermal sealing—or bonding—rather than seaming. Not only was the result surprisingly light, but the internal structure of jackets bonded with traditional horsehair linings was a joy to behold. Same with a black leather jacket bonded with cashmere or a peacoat bonded with shearling. The notion of life on the inside peaked with a green leather jacket that had a perfect little coin purse zipped into its interior. So perfect, in fact, that there was something obsessive bordering on fetishistic about the detail.

Piccioli did indeed acknowledge that “obsessive perfection” is a spur for him and his design partner. At the same time, they insist they understand how a confident mix of sportswear casual and tailored formal is the essence of modern menswear. Here, their version of the mix was evident in the way a coat was thrown capelike over a suit (it was “sportiest” in a glazed denim). The look had an almost sinister precision that felt like the very opposite of casual. On the contrary, the fact that Chiuri and Piccioli have faith that there is a young man who will follow them where they want to lead is reassuring in the current climate.

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Central Saint Martins MA 2011, Myrza de Muynck

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Myrza de Muynck, Central Saint Martins MA, 2011

Myrza de Muynck is a Dutch designer who graduated from the MA Fashion programme at Central Saint Martins London. Myrza de Muynck is based in London and was chosen as Vauxhall Fashion Scout’s One’s to Watch AW12-13. This enabled Muynck to have both a catwalk show and an exhibition space at the organisation’s prestigious Covent Garden venue of Freemasons’ Hall and also to be part of their Paris showroom. Her work has been featured in many magazine’s and blogs such as Vouge, Elle, Wallpaper, ID-online and POP magazine.

”Elsewhere, it was the very clever overhaul of a classic shell suit that caught our eye” – Says Myrza De Muynck. The womenswear designer added floral beading just beneath its knees and on to its blouson jackets – which came in pink, azure, lemon and plaid – to transform the humble sportswear attire like we’ve never seen. You could imagine wearing these and what’s more you could imagine wanting to – “striking the balance as they did between elegant, cool and casual’.’

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Advertising: Lanvin


Lanvin, Fall Winter 2011-2012 Ad Campaign

Primped and adorned in Lanvin dresses, two gorgeous ladies are ready for a night on the town. Just as we believe they’re about to step out for the evening, they stand in position, fixate their eyes on their screen and on cue, start to groove to the music and sway their hips in sync.

Moving to the rhythm of the beat, the girls swing their arms in the air creating a visual show, as the audience catches glimpses of the chic evening clutch in one hand and a bejeweled cuff in the other, with wind in their hair. Suddenly, the scene switches up a bit and in comes their two male companions. At this moment, the party has begun. The rhythm of the night and the synchronized steps do not delay the revealing guest surprise.

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Helen Bullock, Central Saint Martins MA, 2011

Helen Bullock, Central Saint Martins MA,  2011

Helen Bullock is using strong bold silhouettes as a canvas for bold and intuitive prints.

Trained at Central Saint Martins ( MA/BA), her past experiences include Ossie Clark, John Galliano and a collaborative project with Anthropologie. She has also worked as a freelance textiles designer for Louis Vuitton, and teaches at various creative institutions.

A regular illustrator at LFW, her work can be seen online in various publications, including SHOWstudio and Pop magazine.

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Oscar de la Renta, Pre-Fall 2012

Oscar de la Renta, Pre-Fall 2012

For Spring, Oscar de la Renta gave us a refresher course on all the reasons we love him. The taffeta ball skirts! Those handkerchief lace dresses! The embellished gowns! The pre-fall collection he presented today on Park Avenue wasn’t the ode to joy he put on back in September, but it served as a reminder that ODLR still has his charms when he’s performing in a minor key.

Chief among them were a series of dresses, both to the knee and floor-length, cut from crinkled and pleated silk. Whisper-thin and nearly weightless, they’re the kind of frock you’ll turn to again and again when the weather warms: fabulous, but also easy. This may be the “awards season” season, but de la Renta didn’t put a lot of red-carpet showstoppers on the runway. (We’re guessing his Hollywood gals go to the atelier for some one-on-one time with the designer along with their one-of-a-kind gowns.) In their place were narrow beaded or sequined column dresses worn with matching bolero jackets that sparkled without being flashy.

That’s a fitting description for this line all around. Out went Spring’s harem pants in favor of elegant trousers in bold shades of marigold or ocean blue. And the show’s most unforgettable coat came in wine red double-faced leather, not a stitch of embroidery or passementerie or what have you. On the more embellished side of the equation, silk Mikado dresses in Rothko-esque color blocks and Monetlike botanical prints, as well as a hooded fox vest clinched by a dragonfly brooch, stood out.

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Balenciaga Spring Summer 2012

Balenciaga spring summer 2012

Nicolas Ghesquière for Balenciaga, Spring 2012, 2011

At least five benches collapsed as people took their seats at the Rue Cassette space of the Balenciaga show. Too much soufflé last night, maybe? No one was badly hurt, just startled, but before another one could go crashing to the floor, a voice came on the loudspeaker and asked the audience to stand. It sort of felt like church. Which was fitting; the fashion set has long worshipped at the altar of Nicolas Ghesquière.

Even without the bench brouhaha, though, this would’ve been a memorable Ghesquière collection. He’s often gone back to Cristobal’s archives, but with other designers looking to midcentury couture this season, what set apart his own dip into history was the way he adapted traditionally haute constructions to the street. On the one hand, he asked himself, what are the elements of a classic urban wardrobe? And on the other, how do I Cristo-fy them with the legendary couturier’s floating, almost suspended shapes?

Quotidian jean jackets inspired spongy color-blocked numbers with shoulders as exaggerated as the short shorts paired with them were small. Denim made an appearance, too, but these weren’t the rear end- and leg-enhancing pants that are Ghesquière’s bread and butter. Rather, they were belted high on the waist and pleated for a fuller shape through the thigh. Sailor uniforms got an airing in the form of striped ottoman V-neck oversize tunic dresses. And even white T-shirts got the haute treatment, in a foamy fabric in slouchy, asymmetrical cuts. Some of these shapes were more challenging than others, but they’ll resonate with his fashion-mad fans.

Ghesquière really pushed the silhouette with the dresses at the end of the show. Patchworked from archival black and white prints or panels of tan and black, they came with Watteau backs that ballooned behind the models. With their large, elliptical brims, their visors (borrowed from a famous Irving Penn photograph) accentuated the bold diagonal lines.

If the Twin Peaks soundtrack playing before the show was any clue, unsettling the eye was at least part of Ghesquière’s point. (David Lynch, by the way, is having a moment; he designed Paris’ most talked-about new nightclub, Silencio.) No one can look backward and come up with propositions we’ve never seen before like Ghesquière can. Amen to that. Nicole Phelps.

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