Sunday, September 30, 2012

Givenchy Spring 2013 Paris Collections

As Mr. Tisci seems to be constantly battling with his Catholic upbringing he might have finally found some resolve by sending out thethe latest incarnations of the fashion nuns in their new chic mostly back habits and vestments. Quel Surprise! His newly found fabrications offer this somewhat ethereal tone to the collection as well as the introduction of ruffles which were also newly arrived to the Balenciaga and Gucci collections for this season. Oddly enough there are pieces which can be directly connected within these 3 collections, which is not to say that Tisci and Ghesquiere didn't push the envelope the furthest while Gucci was just an example of the ultra-feminine attitude for this season. Tisci’s tailoring and dressmaking skills hold up against the best of them !
Part of what elicits my enthusiasm is the knowledge that this designer is capable of turning out a collection that is chic and refined and feminine while remaining modern and “a la mode!” Alexander McQueen was quoted as saying first you have to know the rules before you can break them.” Well, now I know that Ricardo Tisci can do more than plaster Rottweilers and tigers on tee shirts and peddle them to the rappers and it is with this knowledge that he has made it known that he can take the DNA of the fabled brand and indeed bring it into the 21st century. Mon Dieu!

Sometimes you just have to be able to hang around long enough to see what you thought would never happen!

John Galliano Spring 2013 Paris Collections

Well, I think if it is safe to say that Bill Gaytten’s time at Dior was not wasted. I also think that his time with Mr. Galliano has enabled Mr. Gaytten to shine on his own; first after Galliano’ s departure at Dior and then when he (JG) was relieved of his design duties at his eponymous label.

Mr. Gaytten has taken the John Galliano collection and transformed it into a collection, rather than a bunch of ethereal looking bias cut georgettes with big hats and clunky shoes infused with a pot load of attitude, and now we have a decidedly more polished directional look with great influences from Rei and Yohji and most certainly from the House of Dior under the reign of John Galliano … geez … long thought!

I am generally not a fan of the Japanese designers but I can recognize and acknowledge their influence here which is certainly in keeping with the season. What I find so amazingly intriguing is the marriage of the Asian designers’ mentality to the school of thought that originates at Dior. The clothes have a freshness about them and most definitely have a personality that stands on its own, which is a helluva lot more than can be said of so many collections that have shown over the past month. I think that Mr. Gaytten will be responsible for turning the brand of Galliano into a more viable and evolutionary name rather than the usual bill of fare season after season.
I bow to thee Bill Gaytten as you opened my eyes to many things and, most of all, made me a loyal acolyte and it is my privilege to be one.

ANDREW GN Spring 2013 Paris Collections

WELL … WELL … WELL, HERE IS A CONCEPT… a collection of exquisitely made and designed clothes with an eye on his clientele. Mr. Gn is a master of embellishment and thank god, never a minimalist, although this was far from over the top with respect to gilding the lily! The clothes are quite simply … beautiful.

The collection begins in the now “no color” mood of Paris except it slowly morphs into glorious color and combinations. The mood is decidedly classic and in [part somewhat retro but never tired or hackneyed. All of it rendered with superb technique and fit which is a lot more than I can say about a lot of collections from the past few days. If I go out on a limb here, the collection looked more Dior than Raf Simons’ version of Dior.

There is a beautifully romantic mood created with the portrait necklines and the perfect ball gown that deserve to go to grand affairs. The segment of Indian ethnic embroidery is beautifully handled in silhouette and coloration; one might say in spice colors or the colors of India. The black and whites are perfect all year round but my only gripe would be the mauvish/lavender color which I always find to be a bit menopausal when it comes to dressy clothes. It is a wonderful surprise to see the return of satin duchesse handled with such great élan; never does it look heavy handed.
The bottom line is simply this is a wonderfully salable and couture like collection for the ladies of Gn and even for those who might be unfamiliar with his work. Was this a ground breaking collection? … No it was not. Instead Mr. Gn delivered a collection that requires no blah blah blah blah... how wonderful that is!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Jean Paul Gaultier Spring 2013 Paris Collections

Well it was just another season at Jean Paul Gaultier … business as usual here. Ever the showman and ever the one to display his bag of tricks in a new way and so today it was all about music and musical icons: Grace Jones, Madge, Boy George, David Bowie, Sade and Michael Jackson.

This season’s stars were the celebrities in varying reminiscences of Gaultier’s golden eras. From trench coats to jumpsuits to nautical stripes to raffia to fishnet to Japonisme to deconstruction … they were all present and accounted for in what might be a greatest hits collection. I say that is the most complimentary way as Mr. Gaultier always seems to be current even when he trots out what may be familiar to the seasoned fashionista; someway these greatest hits look new to those who have never seen them before.

Lest us not forget the sliced up suits, the pinstripes, the denim and men in heels with spandexed bare chests and all the other antics that Mr. Gaultier manages to squeeze into his 15 minutes “short subject!” One thing for sure, as I said, he is the ultimate showman who shows off his skills no matter how much of a distraction the production or the inspirations might be.
His serious side is reserved for the Haute Couture and we must never forget he needs to live up to his moniker of the being the “enfant terrible” of French fashion even though he is of boomer age. I look at very simply as he has put in his time, he has survived the ebb and flow of fashion for 30 years or so and this is his fun …VIVE JPG!

Haider Ackermann Spring 2013 Paris Collections

I always lived with the feeling that if you never expect then you are never disappointed and yet I was expecting more than what I saw at Haider Ackerman. That is not to say that the collection was not beautiful, but it does say that the absence of color has created some sort of pall over the collection. I had always, and obviously wrongly, assumed that color was part of Mr. Ackermann’s stock in trade but I guess not … he traded color for patterns this season and graphic patterns at that.

The DNA of the brand was all present and accounted for ... the signature wrapping and folding and accentuated waists but I somehow left wanting to see what some of this would have looked like if Mr. Ackermann applied his acumen when it comes to color. This season, one of the elements or several of the elements which have become emblematic for his collections have seeped into the rend category for this season and those namely being the Japonisme elements that have always been in a Haider Ackermann collection, no matter the season.
I am a huge fan as well as cheerleader for black and white and I certainly do understand the beauty of their combinations so, in that respect, I was very visually delighted. The clothes have not lost that slightly louche quality which makes them as appealing as they rarely look contrived or “outfitty.” One of the other things I do love about the collection is that despite the intricacies of each exit, there is a certain comme il faut which I suppose lends to that louche quality. Lastly, no matter how many layers and no matter the combinations, the clothes fail to ever show a heavy hand, the lightness is palpable.

Bottom line, did I love the collection? … No, Did I hate the collection? … No, but I was expecting more than what I saw and that has disappointed me more than anything but it still cannot take away from the quality and beauty of the collection.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Dior by Raf Simons Spring 2013 Paris Collections

About 6 months ago Raf Simons stated “when I am married to a house, I will fully embrace its original intention, its original heritage and meaning.”

Well it sounds good to me and in fact to some degree he did adhere to his words but with not much more than a “pretty clothes” result. The Spring 2013 collection has some very beautiful clothes within but if one was looking for a revelation or an explosion of fabulous, and then you were sorely disappointed, as was I to a great degree. Mr. Simons is in in the unenviable state of literally being in the “hard act to follow” position coming on the heels of Galliano and the short stint of Bill Gaytten. To say that the previous 2 designers had a flair for the drama would be an understatement, especially Galliano, but what has ensued after his departure and Mr. Gaytten’s is a bunch of clothes that seem to have some of the DNA of the house/brand but without any fanfare, interpretation or drama at all … that is if you don’t count the media hype.
This is a difficult review for me as I rail against the “unwearability” of so many pieces that appear on runways and yet here we were presented with very wearable clothes but not much more. There were no "AHA" moments here nor were there any moments of wild abandon and instead we got some pretty clothes, some exquisite tailoring, a little New Look, some trapeze and some strange embroideries. The lengths were all over the place from barely legal to ankle and the silhouette was close to the body for tailored and looser for sure in dresses except for the New look pieces.

The opening sequence of jacket homage was indeed impeccably finished but there was no great news there and then there was the proliferation of “cage like” dresses and various interpretations of the A Line or trapeze shapes. There were a few brightly colored pieces which looked beautiful and it is unfortunate that they were not expanded upon as was the case with one standout strapless navy/black dress with tulle skirt and high low hem teamed with a mirror image heat shaped bodice. Even the tailored and more severe pieces might have cast a different tone on the collection had there been some color added. The metallic fabric used in the lineup seemed oddly cheap and ill-suited as a partner to any other fabrics

It is possible that this is all part of process of making oneself at home at Dior. Though I was not a consistent fan of Galliano, I was always a fan of the house dating back to Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferre and the namesake. So, maybe I do miss the spectacle and the unbridled excess that had come before Mr. Simons but that does not negate the ennui of this collection from a legendary brand that holds far more promise and finesse than what was seen today.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lanvin Spring 2013 Paris Collections

This is the kind of collection that one waits for in Paris. The collection starts off tailored and pretty, yes the defined shoulder is most definitely back, and then it slowly morphs into an exquisite parade of dresses.

As there has been in a majority of the European collections, the Japonisme theme is displayed via the kimono details and cardigan closures as well as the obi like waist closures and waist bands albeit Mr. Elbaz does manage to tweak these elements just a bit to make them more Lanvin rather than seasonal trendy. The tailoring is sharp without being overbearing but there is no question that when it comes to knowing what his ladies want, he just pours it on without any hesitation.

The second half or what seems like an endless segment was all about dresses and all about sexy whether the dresses were covered up or simple and of clean line. Mr. Elbaz has built Lanvin into a powerhouse with his take on feminine and this season was no different. What remains etched into my memory is the sight of those sexier than sexy shirred and draped dresses and then the jewel tone dresses that followed and became an unbelievable moment of the runway. The colors and then the combinations and the sheer number of them was memorable, no matter what the season nor who the designer, but the message is all the more potent as it was Mr. Elbaz and it is he who knows his way around a dress!
No question, hands down, this is a highlight of the season which is fraught with possibilities and after an apparently lackluster Milan with few exceptions, Paris is providing an awful lot of AHA moments and it has only seemingly just begun. In other words if there were Oscars nominations for best collections this was amongst its top 5 nominees. We need to see what will play out in the very near future …

Balmain Spring 2013 Paris Collections

I think I can safely say that Pierre is rolling over in his grave.  Balmain has been totally reimagined without any regard to its roots or DNA, but that’s not necessarily the worst thing in the world.  The brand has been morphed into the rock n roll go to resource for those who must have the “it” jacket to end all jackets and it all comes at quite a price.

Olivier Rousteing has taken the brand into its next incarnation from its most recent reinvention at the hands of Christophe Decarnin.  Mr. Rousteing has whipped this collection into a frenzy of sights and ideas and in the process brought a polish and completeness to the collection.  I always viewed the Decarnin collections as groups of jackets, all of which were heavily embellished and now there appears to be a thread which links it all together and still focuses on the jacket yet yields a full collection.

It has the markings of so many who came before him like Thierry Mugler, Gianni Versace, Oscar de la Renta, Franco Moschino and even Pucci under the hand of Peter Dundas.  As a whole, this collection is way way over the top and way way editorial driven but the unmistakable 80’s take and all the references require a much more serious review than the past collections.  The extreme shoulders, the broderie anglaise ( Google it), the patterns, the colors and the overall silhouettes scream look at me and will no doubt grace the pages of every fashion magazine as well as many fashion blogs which will use words such as “fierce” or “fabulous” or “divine.”   It is unfortunate that few if any of these outlets or reviews will give a reason for the reaction.  I am sure there is a heap of blah blah blah that will accompany the collection but that really doesn’t matter as the clothes must speak for themselves … unless of course you are Miuccia or Marc who serve Kool-Aid at their shows.

Bottom lines... have a look and really think about all this as there is more than the costumes that meet the eye.  There is a great level of thought and technical skills that go into a collection like this and one can only imagine what will happen when it is channeled into a less ribald and less referenced grouping.

Balenciaga by Nicholas Ghesquiere Spring 2013 Paris Collections

I feel like there must be something wrong, maybe I drank the Kool-Aid! How can it be that I really liked the Balenciaga collection for Spring 2013? I have NOT liked it so many times that I am now confused and a bit disturbed by this feeling.

Mr. Ghesquiere sent out an amazing collection that seems to be at odds with so many of his past collections for the brand. Previously, the clothes were technical wonders of construction and fabrication while having little or nothing to do with real life. Please don’t think I have lost sight of what fashion is and why we utilize fashion shows as a selling tool. Apparently, Mr. Ghesquiere has swallowed a bit of Kool-Aid and produced a collection that is head and shoulders above many of his past ones as this actually looks like it would sell and that people can wear it in the streets … in real life... not the life described in show notes. And not look like some fashion freak/victim. Now, let me say the dirty word that I can never remember using to describe any of the Ghesquiere/ Balenciaga collections … SEXY!
I loved the “flamenco skirts, the scarf skirts, the combinations of these with the very hard edged with soft and the Chanel-ish suits, the very constructed suits as well and they all may be signaling a change at the house. The palette decidedly Spring like and the lack of patterns and trickery very refreshing instead of the in your face combinations and machinations of the past. It occurred to me that this was the first time in many years that I had not noticed the shoes which, in the past, had been some sort of technical masterpiece while defying the limits of gravity and one’s balance.
Some might look at this collection as a sign that Mr. Ghesquiere has sold out or maybe he has grown up or maybe still, the moment has come to sell clothes rather than provide subjects for pretty pictures! No matter the reason, I will take this kind of fashion anytime, any day over the absurdity of clothes that adhere to some arcane blah blah blah and seem to be produced merely for the sake of editorial pages.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Gareth Pugh Spring 2013 Paris Collections

I have watched this young man since he first appeared on the fashion landscape in London and I am so pleased to be able to notice the growth of the collection, both in quantity and design.
Gareth Pugh, favored by Daphne Guinness, is a young man who will not be accused of being a slave to trend and certainly will be lauded for carving his own path in the world of fashion. Do not think that that for one second, that this collection is beyond criticism but it surely engenders great respect for a young man of his age.

Yes, I wish it wasn’t so black and yes I wanted to see more of the frayed edged pieces and yes I wanted more of the wildly layered georgettes. The opening exit was indeed an homage to Diane Pernet (Google her) which brought a smile across my face. There are references to her, YSL’s portrait collar and fringe, to fencing gear, to Latina costumes of the 40’s ( think Carmen Miranda) and possibly to Romeo Gigli but what is so delightful about the collection that oozes and exudes creative energy and originality . Mr. Pugh has grown up enough to use color to its fullest and one might even ponder whether Mr. Pugh has allowed a bit of commercialism to creep into this collection. Loosely translated, that means that women other than Daphne Guinness can wear some of these clothes to real places with even greater pride of ownership! P.S. these are no longer just editorial clothes!

Bottom line here, is that this is a collection that excites and will keep me tuned in for more as I knew from day one, that Gareth Pugh will be a force to be reckoned with some day very soon.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Gianfranco Ferre Spring 2013 Milan Collections

A Brava is due to the designers of Gianfranco Ferre! Stefano Citron and Federico Piaggi have masterfully mined the DNA of the late designer and turned it into the 21st century edition of the legendary brand/designer.

I am so pleased to see that the heritage of the eponymous designer has not been tossed away nor disregarded when a new collection is presented. These 2 very talented designers have extrapolated the roots of the brand and not just “copied’ or recycled the original designs. Unlike Mr. Simons at Dior, these 2 talents did not merely decorate the archival styles, they modernized the modernity of Ferre himself.

The stark black and white is 100% Ferre as are the hard edges especially when in white as one always has visions of those gazar shirts or the stand up and salute cottons and linen. There is a great pride when a house such as this makes a conscious decision not to reinvent itself and start from square one but to use what is handed to them and turn it skillfully into the next incarnation of the brand.
With all the references that are inherent in these designs, the collection is still not as razor sharp and hard edged as when Mr. Ferre did it but that is not necessarily a deficit here. The clothes are more approachable in 2013 than they once were in the 80’s or 90’s.

I am truly hopeful that Messrs. Citron and Piaggi will have a long life at the brand and that whatever the issues are with the owners will be resolved to everyone’s advantage and that includes the late Mr. Ferre.

Giorgio Armani Spring 2013 Milan Collections

Well I guess it must be true that the best is saved for last, well almost last! Giorgio Armani is on top of his game, the top of the heap and the ne plus ultra of all those in Milan. Cavalli may have called him the little king, but surely he is an Emperor as he ruled the Milanese runways for Spring 2013.
The huge uncharacteristically large Spring collection was all about tailoring and not the razor sharp tailoring but the soft tailoring that Mr. Armani invented and never gave up. The clothes are seemingly afloat on the runway as it they are barely touching the body and yet exquisitely molded to the body. The collection is modern, focused, in all shades of blue and will delight the Armani client.
After looking at piles and piles and clothes for almost 3 weeks now, these clothes speak to me, in fact they scream at me to such an extent that many many collections that have come before this one pale by comparison. These clothes require no blah blah blah and will be remembered far longer than the trendy get up that have been thrown at us for almost a month. Mr. Armani is one of the reasons why one remains in this business as he is a master of his craft and continually evolves so that these clothes never look tired or hackneyed.
Do not miss the opportunity to see how it is done and “it” being, create a collection that is a spectacle for the senses and actually does transcend the trends of any season! The clothes are pure Armani and contain the Armani DNA and if you cannot grasp that, then you might have stayed too long at the fair.

Ferragamo Spring 2013 Milan Collections

Dios mio! It actually happened; real clothes appeared on a runway before the collections ended for the season.  Signor Giornetti delivered one of the few, maybe only, collection that paid homage to the brands DNA and also gave us “real” clothes, you know the kind, the kind that someone might actually wear and even better … might buy!  I was beginning to think that the Milan collections would end with a thud but Massimiliano saved the day … well sort of.

The beige pieces were anything but beige in personality and the trench theme was employed with great finesse.  I was especially taken with the beige croco dress and several of the trench styles including some on black.  Yes, there was the requisite origami folds of the season which I wish were seen in less quantity as was the amount of black which blurred the season a bit.  I sense a greater leaning  towards more luxe materials which might be a continuation of the resort collection. 

The one feature that I wish had been omitted was the “fishnet” effect that was employed in mid riffs and as sleeves and tops; for me this was a bit cheesy for a collection which has raised the bar for chic in past seasons.  And, if one was to continue to wish, I would have wished for more color as Mr. Giornetti has displayed great skill in infusing color into his collections.

I feel like a beggar who has been tossed a few crumbs now that there is a collection that celebrates wearing clothes and not just staring at them or showing them as if they are only to be observed rather than worn.  So, all in all, this was not Mr. Giornetti’s greatest performance but it sure was worth a bravo or two when compared to what has populated the runways of the past 5 days masquerading as wearable clothes!