Monday, February 28, 2011

Brioni...Allesandro Dell'Acqua

Alessandro Dell’Acqua continues to stretch the limits of the Brioni customer. He has softened the edges, only slightly, and still retains the clean lines for which the brand is known. He has added the color that is always needed now and again and is slowly broadening the appeal by altering the DNA ever so slightly. Brioni at its most shining moment is an acquired taste and only for those who can afford to look this understated at highly overstated prices. One does wish that he had styled the clothes with a bit more élan as that would have only enhanced their presence on the runway. My suggestion would have been to use a high end jewelry brand to drive home the luxe factor of these clothes.

Emilio Pucci / Peter Dundas

If one waits, one will see things happen that they never expected. Peter Dundas has now taken the style he created for the house and brand and really transformed it into a 21st Century vision of Pucci. He has done this carefully and he has done it successfully with this season’s presentation.
With his rock star and over the top sexy take on an age old prestige brand, he has not brought back the

prints which the house is famous for since its inception. Mr. Dundas has previously flirted with the prints but has not given them a starring role until now. The clothes are modern and sexy and without question bear the stamp of Peter Dundas. If nothing else, he has restored my faith that not all designers are solely interested in reviving a brand by defying all that the brand stood for and ignoring it. BRAVO to Peter Dundas and here’s to hoping some others will follow his lead.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Jil Sander

At the outset I thought that this was going to be another groundbreaking season after a spectacular Spring collection, but alas how quickly things can change. Yes there were vibrant colors, yes, there were prints albeit not as fabulous as Spring, and yes there was a continuation of the “egg” shape but not with as much success as Spring. There is something oddly retro 60’s about the collection with

the chin strapped helmet headwear but it seemed like there was something missing as a whole in the collection. Where were the high points or the memorable moments of how fabulous Raf Simons has made Jil. The collection seemed more like a study in proportions and silhouettes as if it were more tenuous rather than definite. The floral prints were weaker and the choices seemed to be odd and out of place. It is possible that with Mr. Simons contract being up this year that his heart was not in this collection which is sad as he has done so much to propel the collection to great levels of acclaim and great salability.

Bottega Veneta

Happily, I surprised to see this collection infused with color and then on the other hand, I am perplexed with who is the target customer for these wildly overpriced creations. Some of the clothes were pretty, some were pretty ugly, some arty, some artsy craftsy, some prim bordering on matronly and then some downright trashy. There is some sort of undercurrent in the collection that is reminiscent o

f a Prada collection with some very unflattering colors and some very unappealing silhouettes leading me to believe that Miuccia had some sway in the inspiration department. Mr. Maier is like Ms. Prada when it comes to the esoteric “inspirations” which once again leads us to the same destination ...ugly clothes.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

VERSACE ..Donatella Versace

The show might have moved back to its original venue, Via Gesu, and Donatella may have reimagined some of the hallmarks of the brand but the show proved to be without a punctuation mark. One kept waiting for the exclamation point at the end of the sentence but that never happened.
The clothes had a distinctly Versace viewpoint but yet they lacked the polish that Gianni always made possible. Thi

s show might have been vastly improved if it had been styled differently. The open toe bootie was a major distraction and not really a style match to the clothes. One has to think that had she used a simpler shoe, polished the outfits with pantyhose and even used some accessories that these clothes would have taken on a totally different attitude. Part of Gianni’s genius is that he walked the thin line between over the top and hooker clothes and to his credit, most of the time; hooker lost out and over the top fabulous won out.
Rather than let the brand die a horrible slow death, it might be time for Ms. Versace to step aside and breathe some new life into the clothes with some fresh new talent who can take the Versace brand to the next level. Donatella has tried but one has to really think that she is ill equipped to accomplish the task.

BLUMARINE ...Anna Molinari

What happened to all my wild leopard girls? camo girls? Ms. Molinari abandoned the patterns and replaced them with a spectrum of color. The palette will no doubt be attractive to retailer but the collection has lost a lot of its wow factor.
The collection is certainly full of wearable pieces and certainly was presented flawlessly with the matching boots but very little can replace the excitement that Ms. Molinari elicited by using leopard with such a deft hand.
The biggest question will be –does the retail customer relate to color rather than pattern…my guess we will find out when the nest season rolls around and my take is that there will be a return to the beloved ‘spots.”

Friday, February 25, 2011

Prada Fall 2011

As always, when there is too much explanation and too much chat about a collection, there is inevitably a problem with the clothes. As is usually the case with Miuccia Prada, she loves to expound about the whys and hows of her collections and most of it is just gobbledygook for this is what I want to do so I did it. This season is absolutely not an exception.
So, we have Ms. Prada’s take on “in

nocence” which equates to a lot of very unflattering unaffordable clothes with few exceptions. Yes, there is an YSL homage to his Mondrian shift and if one were to thinly stretch references, one might say to Norman Norell and his fish scale sequin mermaid gowns. The difference being is that Ms. Prada exchanged sequins for pailettes in almost translucent tones and the Mondrian reference took on a more somber if not plaid effect. Now, combine this loveliness with dropped waists, trompe l’oeil snakeskin boots and add the 1960’s references and what have you got …..nothing too pretty. Somehow, the very first passages were deceptively encouraging while conjuring up Jean Shrimpton in a chin strapped helmet and over the top movie star sized sunglasses, but that image was quickly obliterated by what followed.
Sticking to my own discoveries, if the clothes need an explanation, then how will they sell when they are just hanging there on a rack ….Ms. Prada will not be pitching them and I highly doubt that your salesperson is that well versed in the inspirations and references that Ms. Prada used while designing said collection.
If one thought that this past Spring was difficult, well then they hadn’t even imagined what was dreamt up for fall.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

GUCCI ..Fall 2011

Well if this is any indication of what’s to come, PETA is going to be very busy this coming fall season. The latest from Ms. Giannini is luxe without being dreadfully over the top and also a bit of a nod to the eternally fashionable YSL. That is to say, yes it is over the top but in a more sedate way rather than the usual bells and whistles that accompany a Gucci collection.
The keys are color, fur, leather, wearable and all with a polish and swagger that has been missing for a long time. The collection has a 40’s type of Hepburn glamor with the fuller pants and the defined waists, jabot blouses and the softer filmy evening wear. Even the shoes and handbags have been tamed…no major platforms or major stilettos nor any outrageously ridiculous bags. Don’t get me wrong, they are there just not front and center as in the past, after all, accessories are the bread and butter of the brand.
I really do like that so many of the daytime looks are finished off with a fedora which also adds to that soigne city sophisticate look as well as possibly a nod to Frida’s favorite decade(70’s).. As I said, there is plenty of fur, whether it is collars or cuffs or detail or coat and this part has not been tamed as the fur shows up in a kaleidoscope of colors which only drives home that color statement more emphatically.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

MARY KATRANTZOU....Princess of Prints

The business of prints in fashion is a risky one at best and yet Ms. Katrantzou has built a business and a reputation based on prints. She continues to employ the digital image prints that Alexander McQueen had begun to popularize before his untimely demise.
This season her inspiration, a subject which rarely holds any gravitas when looking at a collection, was based not on style icons but possessions of style icons. Here we can include items from Faberge, Ming Dynasty, Meissen or cloisonné, all of which have been translated into the prints she uses and then in turn reimagined into the collection she showed this week. These are not the clothes of Babe Paley, Gloria Guinness or Marella Agnelli but the collection does reflect their possessions.
The collection is in the constructed more rigid style that has defined Ms. Katrantzou’s work up to this point but this season she opted to include some softer silhouettes which will guarantee her a wider audience. The more constructed pieces are wonders of the art of fashion design and construction while these newer softer styles suddenly open up a much wider range of possibilities while still retaining the prints which are so linked to the eponymous collection.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


On his 30th anniversary, he presented a collection which has been billed as his greatest hits which I find rather demeaning unless it is qualified by saying that each of those hits went double or triple platinum. The show was the ultimate illustration of why Michael Kors has had a successful 30 year career and business. He shows us that he indeed has a brand DNA and a brand identity and a vocabu

lary that can associated with him and his designs. He makes and displays classic American clothes which are wearable and relatable without being banal or boring.
Michael takes a classic palette and makes it his own and makes it uniquely identifiable and continually produces excitement with apparent ease. Nothing about his collections seem forced or experimental as he is one with his collections and his outlook and views of what good clothes entail.
Slick, simple, urbane, classic, understandable, modern, commercial, memorable and sexy are just a few words that come to mind when one conjures the collections of MICHAEL KORS…………any season.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Ralph Goes to China

What can one say about a designer who has the magic touch? Whether he is translating the iconography of American history or F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mr. Lauren takes the hackneyed and turns it original while under his masterful hand.
The Chinoiserie or Orientalia of this collection is rendered without ever looking cheap or tired and most certainly while retaining all that has become Ralph Lauren. He takes the typical dragon embroideries, cheongsams, mandarin collars, kimono like garments and turns them modern with his touch. Trim them in fur and then, turn them into a tuxedo and all the better to offer up some glamor of an Art Deco Shanghai where there is news to be made.
Mr. Lauren takes poetic license and therefore infuses his DNA into the theme and turns out just one more wonder for Fall 2011. There are enough pure “Ralph” moments to keep registers singing starting almost immediately when I am sure there will be a trunk on Madison Avenue within weeks of this presentation.
Particular favorites include the long purple coat with lush huge shawl collar, the Dragon tux and the beaded pieces. He manages to evolve his look while never causing a revolution and therein lays the genius of Ralph Lauren.


There is such a phenomenon as fashion as spectacle and if you need any proof of its existence then you need to attend a show by THE BLONDS. These 2 have singlehandedly, well 2 of them so I can’t say what the term would be, turned their shows into the highest of drama mixed with an adoring throng of friends, media and admirers who not only arrive to see but to be seen. The 30 minutes or

so before the show begins turns out to be this enormous photo op for the denizens of NYC nightlife who live for that moment of the photographers’ flash and maybe that elusive 15 minutes.
What amazes me is not the hoopla that surrounds these shows but that the design team is endlessly inventive, imaginative and unfettered by the constrictions of conventional fashion wisdom. Not only their limitless imagination, but they have the wherewithal and the knowledge to turn their visions into reality. This particular grouping focused on China and we were transported to the Far East via the glamor route which strutted down the runway in sky scraper heels leaving an indelible memory of each creation put before us. Let’s say these were all from Column A and no column B.
Beads, sequins, jewels, glitter, fringe, macramé and shiny satins took us back in time to a China we know from Charlie Chan movies, opium dens, Fu Manchu and maybe even those Chinese restaurants we knew as kids. The bottom line is that the clothes/costumes are marvels of construction, ingenuity and creativity that reassure us that there is still some fun, humor and untapped talent in this business. The Blonds took us all on a vacation to their China and what a trip it was!