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.
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.
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.
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.
Text: Alexander Fury, Vogue.com.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.
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!”
Text: Sarah Mower, Vogue.com.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.
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.
Text: Alexander Fury, Vogue.com.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.
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.
Text: Alexander Fury, Vogue.com.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.
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.
Text: Maya Singer, Vogue.com.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.
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.
Text: Sarah Mower, Style.com.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.
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.”
Text: Sarah Mower, Style.com.
All images belongs to the respective artist and managment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nicolas Ghesquiére, First interviews after leaving Balenciaga, System and 032c, 2013
System magazine’s Jonathan Wingfield interviewed Nicolas Ghesquière several times between early December 2012 and late March 2013. This was the first time Ghesquière had chosen to speak publicly about his shock departure after 15 years at Balenciaga.
Ghesquière opens up about why he left Balenciaga, his thoughts and impressions about the current state of the fashion industry and what the future has in store. As he mentions at one point in this defining conversation, “The best way to move forward is to go back to work.”
What follows is a global exclusive excerpt from the interview.
At what point into the job at Balenciaga did you realise you needed to wise up to the business side of the brand?
NG: Straight away. It’s part of being a creative because the vision you have ends up in the stores. It actually makes me smile today when I think about it because it was me who had to invent the concept of being commercial at Balenciaga. Right from the start I wanted it to be commercial, but the first group who owned the house didn’t have the first notion of commerce; there was no production team. There was nothing.
What was your vision for the brand?
NG: For me, Balenciaga has a history that is just as important as that of Chanel, even if it’s a lesser-known name. It had the modernity, it was contemporary, and I’ve always positioned it as a little Chanel or Prada.
But what makes Chanel and Prada bigger structures?
NG: The people that surround the designers. Miuccia Prada has an extraordinary partner, whereas I was doing everything by myself.
So without the right people, building something as big as a Chanel or Prada is unimaginable?
NG: I don’t know if it’s impossible, maybe the system will change, but what’s clear is that those brands have family and partners surrounding them, and they have creative carte blanche. Prada, for example, has made this model where you can be a business and an opinion leader at the same time, which is totally admirable. It’s the same thing at Chanel. Sadly, I never had that. I never had a partner, and I ended up feeling too alone. I had a marvellous studio and design team who were close to me, but it started becoming a bureaucracy and gradually became more corporate, until it was no longer even linked to fashion. In the end, it felt as though they just wanted to be like any other house.
You’re saying this spanned from a lack of dialogue?
NG: From the fact that there was no one helping me on the business side, for example.
Can you be more specific?
NG: They wanted to open up a load of stores but in really mediocre spaces, where people weren’t aware of the brand. It was a strategy that I just couldn’t relate to. I found this garage space on Faubourg-Saint-Honoré; I got in contact with the real estate guy who’s a friend of a friend, and we started talking… And when I went back to Balenciaga, the reaction was, ‘Oh no, no, no, not Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, you can’t be serious?’ And I said yes really, the architecture is amazing, it’s not a classic shop. Oh really, really… then six months went by, six long months of negotiations… it was just so frustrating. Everything was like that.
And the conversations, like that one about the store, who would you have them with?
NG: I’d rather not say. There wasn’t really any direction. I think with Karl and Miuccia, you can feel that it’s the creative people who have the power. It was around that time that I heard people saying, ‘Your style is so Balenciaga now, it’s no longer Nicolas Ghesquière, it’s Balenciaga’s style.’ It all became so dehumanised. Everything became an asset for the brand, trying to make it ever more corporate – it was all about branding. I don’t have anything against that; actually, the thing that I’m most proud of is that Balenciaga has become a big financial entity and will continue to exist. But I began to feel as though I was being sucked dry, like they wanted to steal my identity while trying to homogenise things. It just wasn’t fulfilling anymore.
When was the first time you felt your ambitions for the house were no longer compatible with Balenciaga’s management?
NG: It was all the time, but especially over the last two or three years it became one frustration after another. It was really that lack of culture which bothered me in the end. The strongest pieces that we made for the catwalk got ignored by the business people. They forgot that in order to get to that easily sellable biker jacket, it had to go via a technically mastered piece that had been shown on the catwalk. I started to become unhappy when I realised that there was no esteem, interest, or recognition for the research that I’d done; they only cared about what the merchandisable result would look like. This accelerated desire meant they ignored the fact that all the pieces that remain the most popular today are from collections we made ten years ago. They have become classics and will carry on being so. Although the catwalk was extremely rich in ideas and products, there was no follow-up merchandising. With just one jacket we could have triggered whole commercial strategies. It’s what I wanted to do, but I couldn’t do everything. I was switching between the designs for the catwalk and the merchandisable pieces – I became Mr Merchandiser. There was never a merchandiser at Balenciaga, which I regret terribly.
Did you never go to the top of the group and ask for the support you needed?
NG: Yes, endlessly! But they didn’t understand. More than anything else, you need people who understand fashion. There are people I’ve worked with who have never understood how fashion works. They keep saying they love fashion, yet they’ve never actually grasped that this isn’t yoghurt or a piece of furniture – products in the purest sense of the term. They just don’t understand the process at all, and so now they’re transforming it into something much more reproducible and flat.
What’s the alternative to this?
NG: You need to have the right people around you: people who adore the luxury domain. There has to be a vision, but there also has to be a partner, a duo, someone to help you carry it. I haven’t lost hope.
At the time when you were starting to feel that frustration, did you talk to any other designers who were in the same situation?
NG: Yes. What’s interesting is how my split from Balenciaga has encouraged people to get in touch with me, and they’ve said, ‘Me too, I’m in the same situation. I want to leave too.’ There are others, but my situation at Balenciaga was very particular.
In spite of the increasingly stifling conditions you felt you were operating in, were you nonetheless scared by the prospect of leaving Balenciaga?
NG: I just said to myself, ‘Okay, well you have to leave, you have to cut the cord.’ But I didn’t say anything to anyone, apart from to a few very close people, because, you know, I’ve become pretty good at standing on my own two feet.
Once you’d decided enough was enough and you made your intentions clear, was management surprised that you wanted to leave?
NG: Yes. I think so, because I’d shown my ambitions for the house. There’d been lots of discussions, of course, and there were clearly some differences, but that sort of decision doesn’t just come out of nowhere. I’d been thinking a lot too. I was having trouble sleeping at one point. [Laughs] But there’s usually something keeping me awake.
After the announcement, did lots of people in the fashion world contact you?
NG: I didn’t actually see all the reactions straight away because I was in Japan at the time; one of my best friends had taken me on something of a spiritual trip to observe people who make traditional lacquer and obi belts; it was such a privileged environment with tea ceremonies. On the other side of the world, there was this violent announcement being made. When I got back to Paris I saw the press, and with all the commentary going on I actually learnt things about myself; it was quite beautiful in fact. Generally the reaction had been very positive, even on Twitter there were some very satisfactory things being written. Ultimately, I felt okay in the end because it seemed very dignified. I haven’t expressed myself up until now, but I would like to say thank you to everyone, I really am very grateful.
Did you ever think about making a personal announcement?
NG: No, I never wanted to express myself like that. I don’t know how to do that.
What’s the most exciting thing about this period of time for you?
NG: Preparing for the next chapter and having the time to observe what’s going on in the industry. People could have forever associated me with Balenciaga. We saw clearly when the split took place that there was a desire for my name, so I disassociated myself naturally from the house. That could have been a risk. It would have been different if Balenciaga had disassociated itself from me, but people had seen me develop my signature and knew that it might happen. That’s exciting because whatever choice I make, the possibilities are open, and that was confirmed with the freeing of my name from Balenciaga. I’d made so much effort and been such a good obedient kid in associating myself… Now I can imagine a whole new vocabulary. I’m regenerating again, and that’s very exciting because it’s a feeling I haven’t had since I was in my twenties.
Marfa Journal Issue 1 is a new publication created by artists for artists to connect contemporary high-end fashion and art. Marfa Journal‘s overriding concept is inspired by the small desert town of the same name in Texas, which has attracted the art world since the 1960s and continues to be a capital of cultural disorder despite only having a population of 2,000. The first issue premieres with a bang, with two cover options featuring either Erik Brunetti shot by Victor Saldana or the cast of the new film The Total Princess shot by Alexandra Gordienko. The magazine is split into six sections: raw, casual, decadent, romantic, obscure and progressive.
Marcelo Krasilcic, Devra and Elaine, New York, 1996 and Untitled, From the book, 1990s, 2013
Part of a generation of photographers that includes Juergen Teller and Terry Richardson, Marcel Krasilcic (born 1969) moved to New York in 1990. He quickly became known for his spare but erotic photographs of liberated youth, artists, designers and musicians, such as Maurizio Cattelan, Chloë Sevigny and Everything but the Girl–photographs that captured the spirit of the 1990s in situ. Krasilcic went on to forge an international career as a fashion photographer, portraitist and director of art, music and fashion videos.
His work has appeared in several fashion publications such as Dazed & Confused, Harpers Bazaar, Vogue, Elle and Vogue Hommes International. He created campaigns for Nike, Moêt & Chandon and Bergdorf Goodman among many others; and photographed actors and musicians such as Willem Dafoe, Joaquin Phoenix, M.I.A., Caetano Veloso and Drake.
Krasilcic is exhibiting his work at the Colette in Paris, where he will also be presenting his new book, an over sized, cloth bound two-volume publication which chronicles the photographer’s iconic and intimate aesthetic that continues to inform today’s lifestyle and fashion photography.
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
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.