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The spring 2015 collections
that began in New York last month, moving on to London and Milan, have finally
come to an end in Paris. Needless to say, the final leg of this fashion
odyssey, in the City of Lights where productions and presentations can oft
times overshadow the clothes being presented (in a way you never see on the
other side of the Atlantic) did not disappoint and had its share of spectacles
and memorable moments.
If youre Karl Lagerfeld, how do you top last seasons supermarket extravaganza? In this highly politically charged world, you stage a street protest (on Rue Chanel of course). 90 models, wearing flat sporty shoes and boots (all the better to stomp the pavement), carried placards and uttered slogans through megaphones, dressed in a dizzying potpourri of tweeds, vibrant florals in kaleidoscopic colors, mannish wide legged pantsuits, poetic white blouses, abbreviated shift dresses made of leather tiles made to resemble the street, and endless variations on the houses signature black and white. Of course, it remains to be seen, if having Gisele Bundchen, dressed in camel and white striped knits, and holding a megaphone, will help to advance womens causes, or make my life any better (ha!). But nonetheless fun to watch (in the meantime, what will Karl do next time?)
It was also hard to top the spectacular Frank Gehry designed Foundation Louis Vuitton (a multi winged spaceship of a building), which served as the venue for Nicolas Guesquieres second collection for Louis Vuitton.photo Quite apropos given that Guesquiere has long been obsessed with sci fi. But while there was nothing literally extra-terrestrial about this beautifully executed, well balanced collection of perfectly proportioned, luxuriously fabricated basics made special and luxurious (with an emphasis on a lean, fitted, close to the body silhouette), it looked supremely modern, cool, wearable, and believable, and many women would love to look like the models who sauntered down the runway. In addition, this is very much in keeping with the current unmistakable trend on the part of designers, to elevate the basics, and make the casual and banal luxurious. It seems especially relevant and modern for our times, given that is how most of the world dresses anyway. (FYI, speaking of extra-terrestrial, the Avant garde, highly experimental designer Gareth Pugh, known for his out of the world theatrics, staged what many felt to be his most beautiful collection to date, and interestingly, instead of showing in Paris, the worlds most prestigious stage, he held his presentation in New York, in conjunction with New York Fashion Week this time around).
And then there was Jean Paul Gaultiers extravaganza/final bow as a designer of ready to wear extravaganza, held appropriately, at Le Grand Rex, the largest movie theatre in Europe, in Paris second arrondissement. It felt as though tout Paris was there (among those in attendance: Catherine Deneuve, Boy George, and fellow designers Alexander Wang, Rick Owens, Alber Elbaz, Jeremy Scott, Pierre Cardin) with many more trying to gate crash and gridlock for blocks around. There was popcorn served in the reception area, a fashion show which featured a lineup of Jean Pauls greatest hits, a Miss Fashion Editor segment with models who looked like Carine, Grace, etc., and a campy Miss Jean Paul Gaultier 2015 contest complete with a master of ceremonies.
Other highlights included Alber Elbazs emotional, grown up, and very womanly 125th anniversary collection for the house of Lanvin, during which time he made a powerful statement about age, beauty, and fashion, using his all-time favorite models in their beautiful, au natural state (Audrey Marnay, Amber Valletta, Kirsten Owen are in their mid 30s and 40s), along with the much younger runway stars. photo
And what would Paris Fashion Week be without the drama? The most poignant coincidence was the death of Gaby Aghion, at the age of 93. The founder of Chloe (who pioneered pret a porter at a time when only haute couture was shown), passed away on Saturday, midway through the pret a porter collections, and just one day before the Chloe spring 2014 show, now designed by Claire Waight Keller. While Ms. Aghion was not a household name herself, she helped catapult into fame, the careers of such fashion luminaries as Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, and Phoebe Philo, all of whom designed for Chloe, which was founded in 1952.
This was also a season in which the all but ubiquitous Kimye showed up everywhere (wont you two go away already?), causing delays and problems throughout the week. They were stampeded by fans and paparazzi, and at one point, Kim was almost knocked to the grown by an overzealous fan. But it was also a season in which the shamelessly publicity seeking duo were thankfully upstaged: not only by their truly adorable baby daughter North photo the trio were dressed in matching ensembles whenever they sat front row center (the family that dresses together stays together?), but by the George Clooney- Amal Alamuddin wedding, which was held over the weekend smack dab in the middle of Paris Fashion week. Anna Wintour was one of the lucky guests, reportedly bolting out of her seat at Dior in order to get to Venice on time. As you know, the October issue of Vogue features a behind the scenes look at Amal being fit for the exquisite Oscar de la Renta designed wedding gown in a photo spread by Annie Leibovitz. (The New York Posts fashion editor Serena French promised the dress would set the standard for the new Hollywood royalty. Class over crass is how she put it).
As for Amal, well lets just say, a fashion star is born! The beautiful, brainy, human rights lawyer just happened to top my best dressed list for 2014, which was written about 4 months ago. Her gams (that go on for miles) and her fashion sense were on display during the course of the wedding celebrations, appearing in 5 different outfits, each one completely different and one better than the next. Though I have to say, she was quite a vision in the red bi level Alexander McQueen creation, with which she matched her lipstick. Need more proof that red always stands out in a crowd?
But now that Ive had a bit of time to digest the month long fashion journey, I have to say that what hit me almost more than anything else (and it seems even more pronounced this time around), is the sheer variety of what is shown, and the extremes in each category, with designs literally going from one end of the spectrum to the other. It sounds like a cliché, but there is literally something for everyone.
Do you like it long or short, full or skinny? No matter. Proportion and length continue to be non-issues. There was short, long, everything in between, and there were many designs that combined the two (the maxi coat over shorts - or mini dress- appeared on many runways). While sportswear and separates are undeniably having their moment, there are still enough dresses for those whose idea of heaven is an easy one step zip up. Do you love the comfort of sneakers and flats? They have not disappeared, though they are hardly the only option. Want the comfort of a sneaker and the height without a heel? Try a flatform, which were all over the runways), as were platforms (though there were many single soled shoes as well).
Are you a less is more, or more is more kind of gal? No problem. There are plenty of luxuriously austere, minimalistic offerings devoid of surface decoration (exemplified by The Row and Hermes) photo, and on the flip side of the coin, there is enough sparkling embellishments to satisfy that camp as well (for instance, Consuelo Castiglionis highly personal collection for Marni, was all about an artisanal approach to beading and adornment, and the duo behind Dolce & Gabbana photo were inspired by bullfighting and specifically, the embellishment of a matadors jacket for their collection). Would you prefer to live in noir or optic white 24/7, (or do you love pastels or eye popping color for that matter?) No problem.
Would you label yourself a Man Repeller or a Man Magnet? While there are plenty of elegantly subtle, modest, restrained, wearable clothes that might delight the former, it was hard not to notice that the body beautiful was celebrated in all its glory. Transparencies ruled, and oft times, very little was left to the imagination (Tom Ford not only showed what looked like pasties, but skirts so short, the top of the stocking were in plain sight, and at Givenchy, there was a tough girl edge). Call it Sex and the Cities; Sex with a capitol S, was undeniably back on the runways this season. But perhaps nobody did this better and more elegantly, than Olivier Rousteing for Balmain photo, whose muse is and has been Rihanna (and its hard to think of anyone, other than his models, who is as well suited to, or would look as good in those clothes as the pop star). This collection could best be described as razzmatazz, Va-Va-Voom, at times graphic and bright, and not for the faint of heart. Its certainly for a woman who wants to be noticed. But there was also an undeniable elegance to it, as exemplified by the elongated, fluid lines of the sheer nylon mesh and mousseline pieces. Speaking of which, Rihanna would undoubtedly look like a goddess in the white dress that opened the show; and lets face it, is there anything sexier than fire engine red, which appeared in several memorable incarnations.
And there is no arguing with the youthful club girl sex appeal oozing throughout Hedi Slimanes collection for Saint Laurent photo (which had Kate Moss written all over it). A leggy, eclectic ode to the 70s, almost everything was short, tight, and abbreviated (and often very low cut). The models all looked like they had been out all night (or plan to be), wearing sheer black hose and jazzy high heeled platform sandals (there were endless variations and they are destined to become hot sellers and widely copied).
Of course, when one thinks of a beautiful, well-toned, and fit body, its hard not to think of sports, dance, exercise, and these elements continue to inspire designers (though unsurprisingly, the best results are those that are the most subtle and creative). Dance was an undeniably popular point of reference, and perfectly timed given the recent opening of the Museum at FITs Dance & Fashion exhibition. The obvious dance element could be found in tutus and ballet length skirts (Undercover). But it was more under the radar at Maiyet,photo where Kristy Caylor focused on the abstract idea of movement for a collection of fluid separates and evening dresses. And her salon presentation was highlighted by an installation of five short films directed and choreographed by Benjamin Millepied (Natalie Portmans husband, who was the choreographer for Black Swan, in which she starred and for which she won her Oscar).
Though nowhere was the dance element most surprising than at Rick Owens,photo who displayed his softer side this season (his inspiration was The Ballet Russe). It was not only evidenced in his color palette, but his inventive use of tulle (but naturally, it still had an edge). Haider Ackermann went uncharacteristically light, soft, fluid, and more feminine this season, and while he didnt specifically cite dance, he relied on a very balletic palette of flesh tones and nudes.
As for exercise and active sports, Bottega Venetas Tomas Meier put a luxurious, elegant spin on lowly exercise clothes. At Dior, photo a surprisingly sporty vibe ran through the collection that was all about unexpected mixes and juxtapositions. Raf Simons mid and knee high boots, which he showed with almost everything, were made from what looked like athletic mesh; he paired sporty bermudas with beautifully tailored and delicately embroidered redingotes; and he showed humble white cotton athletic tanks with sculpted couture like skirts.
At Balenciaga photo Alexander Wang, a designer always known for his streetwise athletic references, took his cue from cyclists (down to the rubber soled bottoms of his pointy toed flat shoes) and paid homage to the houses austere heritage with a collection that emphasized sleek fitted silhouettes and married couture like embellishments and decoration with industrial and utilitarian elements. And for his eponymous label in New York, his obsession with sneakers (in this case Nikes Flyknits) resulted in a group of athletic, sexy colorful body hugging dresses. photo
Are you someone who loves to try new things and experiment, or would you rather adhere to a strict uniform? As luck would have it, this season you will have no trouble finding pieces that could easily form the basis of your figurative daily uniform (such as those proposed by Tomas Meier, ALC, or Ballys Pablo Coppola). And of course, if authentic military uniforms float your boat, there were enough designers who went straight to the source and took it literally as well (Marc Jacobs, Sacai, Acne)photo.
Do you favor monotone solids or prints and patterns? You are in luck either way, but truly, this is a season of standout prints and patterns. There were prints that harkened back to bygone eras, evoking a trip down memory lane, and then there were prints seemingly designed with those who suffer periodic memory lapses, and even need help with remembering what day, or what season it is. (Anthony Vaccarellos solution was to emblazon several pieces with the word Spring and Summer) photo.There were also unique and amusing prints: some inspired by the innocence of nature, such as those the fruit prints at Au Jour Le Jour; those that recalled Boschs The Garden of Earthly Delights on the fairytale like runway of Undercover photo; and others, by common everyday items (at Louis Vuitton, there was a graphic print that combined cars, makeup, and household appliances).
But hands down, the most ubiquitous prints were florals, which were literally all over the runways. Actually, it is hard to think of too many shows where not one flower or floral print was shown, even if it was just as a trim or decoration. In any case, flowers showed up in both predictable as well as unexpected incarnations. And yes, theres a flower print to suit everyone, even those who dont necessarily like florals. They were most interestingly used at Prada, (where they were hardly pretty in a traditional sort of way)photo. Here, Miuccia focused on interesting fabrication, (specifically floral brocades), which were sometimes used as trim or with different fabrics pieced together. They also decorated her knee highs which were paired with heavy platform sandals (whose heels were also decorated with tiny flowers in some cases). It was all about imperfection and the familiar tug of ugly/pretty, rich/poor, which explains the frayed edges.
Do you like your flower prints pretty in a ditzy, retro sort of way? (Celine)photo. Do you like them high tech and digitized? (Carolina Herrera, Canyon Clover). Do you prefer them with a touch of the artisanal? (Marni) photo. Or do you like them disquietly disturbing, as seen on Rei Kawakubos all red Blood and Roses Comme des Garcons runway photo. Maybe you gravitate towards florals that are exotic and Oriental (Alexander McQueen) photo; hand painted and used as a lining for a tweed coat with boots to match (Karl Lagerfeld actually hand painted his large vibrant flowers for Chanel) photo. Just maybe, you want them mixed with houndstooth (Thom Browne), or with bold stripes (Antonio Marras).
Finally, there are a number of designers (not necessarily household names), who managed to look like nobody else and stood out this season. Cedric Charlier photo put the emphasis on graphic stripes and superb tailoring (exposed seams were his trademark this time season); Erdem paid homage to the wildly beautiful side of nature (the colors and patterns of many of the intricately worked dresses evoked a beautiful forest); Haitian born Stella Jean presented a folkloric, colorful, joyful, and exuberant show in Milan (the best tourist print revival since Pradas spring 2004 collection); Antonio Marras was inspired by the artwork of Italian artist Carol Rama (she is almost 100 years old) and focused on caftans, soft dirndl skirts, easy coats in jarring colors (orange and blue), and successfully mixed chintz and naïve florals, with bold stripes; J.W Anderson added a subtle nautical undercurrent to his collection of marvelous separates and dresses, (it was all about the subtle yet striking details), and his leathers were outstanding (large floppy black leather hats accompanied every outfit).
Random musing and observations:
Need a platform to stand on? There is no question that the platform (or flatform) shoe or sandal is THE footwear of the season.
Red Alert: While red may have only appeared sporadically this season, its welcome sighting was proof of its eternal appeal. Simply put, when you want to stand out, wear red! photo
The most apropos show venues: The Christian Dior show was held in a mirrored tent in the Louvres Cour Carree. And at Louis Vuitton there was Olafur Eliassons installation of large rectangular panels and mirrors which enabled you to see yourself 43 times). Just perfect for the vain fashion troops to check themselves out. Talk about Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all? photo
The best thing about Kimye: Baby North
The collection that made the best use of its archival signatures: Versaces medusas and Greek Key motifs. The entire collection was surprisingly restrained and pared down; not in the least bit overdone or campy.photo
The spring 2015 ready-to-wear collection most likely to be worn by guests attending the Met Costume Institutes upcoming Chinese Whispers: Tales of the East in Art, Film, and Fashion exhibition: Alexander McQueen. While Sarah Burton actually cited Japan as her influence, the collection was nonetheless exotically Oriental in feeling, and she was one of the only ones who obviously looked to the east this season.
The sassiest and sexiest use of a crisp white shirt: Dolce & Gabbana, where it was paired with embellished short shorts for the finale photo.
Bermudas are the new black (well, okay maybe not, but they are the new culottes!)
And finally, everyone always tries to define the word modern as it applies to fashion. Designers can only propose: it's up to the customer to make it relevant, and make it her own. If youre smart (and I know you are), you will chose to ignore trends altogether and wear what you love; and more importantly, what suits you. I can guarantee, you will look better than everyone else who is trying too hard. To me, that is the definition of modern.