February 26, 2014

Haider Ackermann Spring 2013

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Credit: Vogue.com

It feels a little strange to revisit Haider Ackermann out of cycle. I always find it much easier to write reviews while riding the initial high of first impressions.  Through from my previous notes on this collection, I found Ackermann’s experiment with a strictly, monochromatic palette a rather bleak depart from his richly hued collections in seasons past.  But looking back at it now, feelings certainly can change. While the austere theme felt too severe at the time, I now find the color scheme refreshing in a season that is often associated with pastels.  More importantly, all the seductive elements to Haider Ackermann’s aesthetic remain firmly in tact for Spring 2013.

It seems that I fall a bit in love with Haider Ackermann every season. I find the strength and fragility depicted in his collections utterly compelling. Moreover, the presentation is as lovely as the pieces themselves. I love the slow, languid walk accompanying each look as the it allows for a thorough, thoughtful perusal of every detail. Ackermann slows his audience down from the frenetic pace that comes with the rapid tour of shows during Fashion Month. I love that it causes me to pause and more fully appreciate his beautifully deconstructed clothes.  And for Spring 2013, he transitions us from the romantic bustle of Fall to something a bit sterner.  The dramatic peplums and artfully arranged scarves have been replaced with sharp, clean tailoring and delicate camisoles hanging by a single precarious thread.  The wide leather cummerbunds have carried over from last Fall, providing an intriguing counterpoint to the tuxedo jackets which happen to be neatly opened to the waist. Which is somewhat of a marvel considering the potential mishaps that could occur. And while the signature architectural shapes remain, the stark palette adds a rather severe air to the entire collection. However, this is when things become interesting. Ackermann manages to convey his sense of serene insouciance in spite of this severity.  For all the structured tailoring, there is a nonchalance to how the fabric settles as if the jacket or dress could be easily shrugged off at any moment.  I love the juxtaposition of the masculine suiting, with its sharp edges and neat tucks, and the revealing silk and lace leaving a flow of whimsy and sex appeal in its wake. So while this collection was not my favorite of his, Haider Ackermann still easily seduces me with this study of contrasts.

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February 25, 2014

Roland Mouret Spring 2013

Roland Mouret Spring 2013 36 detail

Credit: Vogue.com

No one does geometric shapes and elegant draping quite like Roland Mouret. And while I do not care much for his overt allusion to the eighties with his boxy broad-shouldered jackets, I do enjoy his well-tailored pieces. His feminine, body-hugging silhouette is not only enormously flattering, but the fabric is always so intriguingly folded. By manipulating the fabric in the bodice, he elevates the sculpted sheath dresses to a visually arresting architectural piece.  Moreover, his slouchy draped leather certainly piques my interest; the effect appears delightfully tactile.  Though apparently it is lacquered silk (caked by mud and baked!) which explains the pliability.  In any case, Roland Mouret provides innovative, chic looks that allow one to feel both cool and pulled together.

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February 25, 2014

Lanvin Spring 2013

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Credit: Vogue.com

“Well, what it comes down to is purity and precision.” – Alber Elbaz

I have always adored Alber’s particular brand of kookiness.  His versatility and, moreover, superb craftsmanship make it difficult to encapsulate his collections as they never contain a design singularity. The strength of his collections cannot be whittled down to a pithy little statement, and I love that. Instead, Alber designs looks that manage to strike an immediate undercurrent of want in women.

Spring 2013 is full of sexiness and strength, featuring precisely tailored suits and effortless little dresses with a few neoprene bodysuits thrown in for good measure. Alber gives us neatly spliced gilets, deconstructed duchesses satin dresses, and strong-shouldered suit jackets. The tuxedo pantsuit is hardly boring in his hands, often times prominently displaying the décolleté. Far from feeling obvious, the confidence of each look feels organic and sensual. As if the wearer feels utterly comfortable in her own skin. That feeling resonates strongly with me personally; after all, who wouldn’t love pieces that make her feel powerful, confident, and sexy? Alber manages to capture that feeling beautifully.  Moreover, his masterful technique is on full display here. Wherever his mind takes him, he produces exquisitely constructed pieces that are expertly cut and elegantly draped. His expertise gives him the freedom to play with the details, whether that is applying a slit here and there or rusching the fabric just so. And his creative spirit is alive and well for spring.  A pleasure as always, Mr. Elbaz.

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February 19, 2014

Balenciaga Spring 2013

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Credit: Vogue.com

“I thought it was interesting to play with that contrast between Balenciaga’s cubism and architectural rigidity, and with mythology, antiquity, and movement.” – Nicolas Ghesquière

Every season, I always choose to save one collection in its entirety. And for Spring 2013, Nicolas Ghesquière absolutely stunned with what turned out to be his last collection for Balenciaga. But, man, what a lasting impression to make with your final collection. I am two seasons behind in my reviews [And I am very slowly catching up, but we'll get there. I promise!], and I am still seeing the effects of this collection trickling its way into mass market.  The flamenco flounces, the “molded sweetheart-neckline bras” (Absolutely gorgeous. I totally covet them.), the long tailored vests, the layered gold rings adorning every finger, the boxy cropped singlets paired with those bias-cut skirts raised all the way up to there…, all design elements frequently seen in street style today.  And while it is interesting to track its influence, I am more taken by the contradictions represented in this collection.  For all his design complexity, Ghesquière takes a whole host of references and collages them into a collection that is effortlessly pulled together and instantly covetable.  Though, to be fair, I have yet to come across a dance-inspired collection/editorial that I didn’t like.  There is something about the melding of dance and fashion that I really really enjoy.  But while I tend to favor dance elements, the beauty of this collection is far more visceral than that.

Balenciaga Spring 2013 03 detailBalenciaga Spring 2013 30 rings

For one, the balance of austerity and sensuality is beautifully conveyed with each look.  For instance, the structure and strength of the traditional pantsuit is offset by the revealed sweetheart bras while flamenco ruffled skirts provide a flirtatious counterpoint to starkly tailored tabards. As style.com’s Jo-Ann Furniss puts it, “Ghesquière has found a way to make something that is stark, sensual, and emotional.” (Read her excellent interview here.) Severity is not a characteristic I normally associate with passion, but somehow, this collection imparts an impression of both controlled structure and wild abandon.  Contradictions that I am still trying to wrap my head around. Though, I do love the blend of architectural shape and bodily molding on display; look 1 demonstrates this wonderfully. The quality and work here is absolutely exquisite.

Incidentally, I’m afraid that this review hasn’t been terribly coherent. I was (and am still) so moved by this collection that I find it difficult to fully articulate precisely why I enjoyed the collection. But if anything, there is a self-confidence to Ghesquière’s work this season that is very moving. This quiet strength made for a rather cerebral and emotional collection, one that moves the conversation forward.  I cannot wait to see what he does at Louis Vuitton in the upcoming week.

For a far more intelligent review along with a more complete picture on Ghesquière’s references, please read Hamish Bowles’s thoughts on this collection here.

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February 16, 2014

Dries Van Noten Spring 2013

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Credit: Vogue.com

Let me preface: I am highly biased against plaid.  But for all the grunge connotations that plaid conjures in my mind, Dries Van Noten has managed to overcome my normal objections to this particular print.  In fact, he has done something rather remarkable: he has made plaid positively elegant.  This spring collection is full of ease and style, evoking a rather romantic air with the diaphanous layering.  And while Van Noten adheres to a slim, gently sloping shape throughout, the silhouette feels very feminine without the standard rigid hourglass structure.  There is an effortless to his layering that I think we all strive for with our personal style.  This sort of romanticism feels translatable to our everyday lives with looks that allow one to feel both comfortable and put together, two qualities that are not often found together.  More importantly, I like that this collection stirs the dreamer in me.  He makes his audience feel something beyond the simple curation of beautiful clothes, though that is part of it.  And in spite of the sheer volume of looks (and for all the variation), Dries Van Noten crafts together a cohesive collection that brings me along for the emotional journey. Which speaks volumes about his strength as a designer.

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February 15, 2014

Salvatore Ferragamo Spring 2013

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Credit: Vogue.com

While Salvatore Ferragamo has always been a well-known name for luxury goods (high-end footwear in particular), it has since fallen out of favor with the current market.  And though it is a house still in transition, I like how its revival (or rather proper foray into prêt-à-porter) is coming along.  If nothing else, I can always look forward to Ferragamo for its expertise in leather goods.  There is an old-world quality to their product, heralding back to the days of custom cobbling.  The handcraft skill is still unmatched by anything produced on the mass market.  And thus ends the somewhat intelligent portion of this review.  The shoes for Spring 2013 are seriously lust-worthy so forgive me for the effusive babble that is about to occur.

For one, the thigh high gladiators are utterly glorious if improbably difficult to get into (and out of), let alone to wander around in.  Not to mention, it would be near impossible to wear in the actual Spring/Summer season with hot weather. But does any woman honestly care about utilitarianism when met with insanely awesome shoes? Or perhaps it is just me.  Because I am experiencing some serious lust over these boots.  They totally make the overall look.  I have always been a major fan of armor-inspired architectural looks, and, boy, does Massimiliano Giornetti deliver.  The overall collection is beautifully constructed, appropriately grand, and sexy as hell.  Each look is delightfully tactile; leather, suede, and snakeskin feature heavily, adding a luxe quality to otherwise neatly tailored pieces.  Moreover, the textured details reveal the quality of the work.  The stitching is superb, which is to be expected of this particular house.  Enough to temporarily distract me from the shoes.  And if anything, this collection has certainly shown that Ferragamo will be one to watch during the Milan circuit.

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February 15, 2014

Marni Spring 2013

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Credit: Vogue.com

I love the Marni aesthetic.  There is something effortlessly chic about the parred down simplicity.  This is largely due to Consuelo Castiglioni’s bold vision.  For someone well-known for her excellent use of geometric print, Castiglioni shows that she can do sophisticated minimalism with the best of them, and all without losing any of her trademark quirk. And while I love the luxury and gravitas of high fashion, I am also a major fan of the “dramatic clean sweep”.  There is something quietly powerful about Castiglioni’s exemplary control.  Her craft is absolutely exquisite, resulting in pieces that move in a most alluring manner.  I love how she has taken traditionally heavy fabrics like bonded leather and damask cotton and repurposed them into effortless spring looks.  In fact, this entire collection showcases pieces with an improbable lightness.  I am particularly taken with how the fabric seems to envelop the body, allowing for an elegant ease of movement. The overall impact is quite charming.

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January 24, 2014

Aquilano.Rimondi Spring 2013

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Credit: Vogue.com

While I positively swooned over their opulent baroque revival for Fall 2012, I found this more playful outing less impressive, but enjoyable nonetheless.  Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi’s love for colorful prints and architectural shapes is highly evident with this rather youthful spring collection.  And though I am not generally accepting of the more flamboyant collections frequently shown in Milan, I am much more tolerant of excessive print when Aquilano and Rimondi’s cutting technique is on clear display.  They make an effort not to let craftsmanship become lost in a fit of whimsy.  Certainly, their use of rich textiles and vibrant embellishments makes for a rather tactile, if dizzying display of epic proportions.  That being said, Spring 2013 feels rather directionless.  While I am sure they certainly stand out among the more grandstanding Milano shows, their display of creative fervor feels a little too immature for my tastes.  Again, the technique is certainly there. I am a particular fan of their empire-waist structure; the silhouette is intriguing without ballooning too far from the body.  However, this does not fully disguise a lacking vision.  That sounds rather harsh, and I would hate to end on such a negative note.  I am sure that their enthusiasm and whimsy can be focused in future collections.  And with their budding talent, this pair is certainly one to watch at Milan.

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November 21, 2013

Burberry Spring 2013

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Credit: Vogue.com

Spring 2013 is a lush, bold departure from the traditional, staid Burberry heritage without pushing too hard in an effort to be different.  I love how Christopher Bailey has centered his collection around a playful, flirtier Burberry.  In doing so, he has interjected the classic house with a delightfully seductive quality.  There is a shift towards a more sculpted silhouette: the collection is full of sensual bustier corsets, ruched bodysuits, and beautifully rounded capes.  And while there is a distinct erotic allusion, Bailey does not go for obvious “sexiness.”  Instead, he allows the vibrant color palette and deliciously tactile texture to speak for themselves.  Neon dip-dye ombre jackets certainly catch the eye (Looks 7, 10, 12) for the upcoming warmer months while the blush and plum satins are positively autumnal.  The combination of purples, blues, and greens is featured prominently throughout the collection, showing up in a rather unique fashion.  Personally, I am rather enamored with that purple pebbled leather skirt in Look 38.  Pairing it with a peacock-esque plumage of green and blue feathers made for striking impact.

Moreover, I love how Bailey was unafraid to extend his bold color palette to his outerwear.  Burberry’s trademark Macs are transformed into boldly textured versions of themselves.  Pebbled leather coats are introduced in multiple hues of blue and green while cropped satin jackets and rounded capes are enticingly cheeky.  There are, of course, the more standard traditional trenches in crepe khaki, neatly knotted with serrated leather belts.  And though most of the trenches are beautifully crafted and sure to please Burberry’s more conservative customers, I am drawn to the gorgeously plumed version in Look 44, the romantic lace of Look 26, and the electric blue leather rendering of Look 36–all fantastic deviations from the norm.

Overall, I love that Bailey has given himself license to play.  While still undoubtedly elegant, the Burberry girl embraces bold choices and coquettish provocation for Spring.  How aptly timed.

[On a side note, I had the most horrible mental block with this one.  However, I should be able to catch up within the next couple of months or so *fingers crossed*]

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November 20, 2013

Jonathan Saunders Spring 2013

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Credit: Vogue.com

Although Jonathan Saunders is not quite as avant garde as some of his fellow British contemporaries (or Scottish as it were), there is a certain je ne sais quoi about his collections. His pieces are deliciously covetable.  Perhaps, in the face of the generally wildly wacky British style that tends to characterize London Fashion Week, I find Saunders’ clean silhouette and unusual color highly attractive.  He has a remarkable attention for detail, utilizing his print expertise to craft pieces that are striking and, yet, entirely accessible.  Normally, accessibility is not exactly the quality I am drawn to during these shows; however, Jonathan Saunders manages to remain practical without losing his flare for high impact drama.  He is walking a fine balance: staying true to the concept of prêt-à-porter while generating that special spark of something that I have come to associate with haute couture.

Jonathan Saunders is actually the show I look forward to the most during London. I am probably doing a horrible job of articulating it, but Saunders has it. There is a quality to his pieces that has made his collections wildly popular with critics and masses alike in recent years.  I can’t quite name what it is, but the reaction is generally very visceral.  There is something compelling and reassuring about his collections.  A spark of wit? The beautifully effortless finished product? I don’t know.  Whatever it is, Jonathan Saunders has it in spades.

Regardless, this review is likely a wash since I am waxing (incoherent) poetry about the emotions that Jonathan Saunders has provoked rather than focusing on actual concrete aspects of his spring collection.  Oh well.  Try Vogue UK’s review for a more comprehensive take on the actual collection itself.

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