Archive for October, 2011

October 31, 2011

Haider Ackermann Spring 2012

 

Credit: Vogue.com

“We’ve been doing elongated silhouettes reaching the sky for seasons . . . there’s so much high heels and sexiness that now it’s nice to have an army of Lord Byrons coming your way!”  – Haider Ackermann

There is something very poetic about Haider Ackermann, a sort of otherworldly element to his collection that is hard to find elsewhere.  He brings the fantasy of haute couture to life while establishing a wonderful balance of strength and beauty to his collection; his designs always have a quiet confidence and modern romance to them.  Further, there is a certain intensity that is characteristic of both his presentation and craftsmanship that unique to Ackermann.  I love the thoughtfulness of his shows, of how he carefully executes his vision for the season.  It is a wonder to watch unfold.

Moreover, the duality to his pieces is incredibly intriguing and highly attractive.  There is masculine edge to the sharp lines and particular tailoring; yet, his looks are also full of feminine sensuality.  The sort of punkish romanticism he has established as his base aesthetic is delightful.  Particularly, I love how he manages to make slivers of  skin feel like the most exciting thing in the world while simultaneously executing his more revealing pieces with sophisticated aplomb.  I feel like Haider Ackermann provides a different sort of seduction, one that is dreamy and certainly not in the traditional sense.  This is one full of languidness and decadence, evoking the “luxury of easiness” as he would say.  Hamish Bowles puts it best when he describes what Haider Ackermann has done as “invoking the dandy spirit of the mad, bad, and dangerous-to-know Lord Byron, and translating that dandyism for women by taking the iconic elements of a rockabilly wardrobe and layering them with couture detailing.”  Because that is exactly the way I see it.  He turns deconstruction (the leather jacket in look 20, the wrapping of look 24, and the folds to look 32 for instance)  into an artful romantic negligence–one full of whimsy and devil-may-care.

The overall effect is somewhat devastating–in the best possible way.  I am seduced by the very fold of his clothes; every distinct origami fold envelopes me further into the eloquently defined world of Haider Ackermann.  With its lushly rich color palette and deliberately crafted details, it is easy to fall in love with this collection.  There is not so much a control or lack thereof but rather a freedom that allows the audience to soar right along with every slowly meandering look down the runway.  More importantly, the exquisite craftsmanship is the foundation to everything.  And in the end, all I want to do is breathe in and breath out as to fully lose myself in the poetic exquisiteness of Haider Ackermann.

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October 31, 2011

Maison Martin Margiela Spring 2012

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Credit: Vogue.com

Generally speaking, Maison Martin Margiela’s aesthetic is a bit too abstract for my tastes.  I always found this house a bit odd even if I respect the marching-to-the-beat-of-their-own-drum bit.  Even after the ousting of Martin Margiela in 2009, I never really got it.  However, I was quite pleasantly surprised for Spring 2012; I really got drawn into the romanticism of this collection.  Instead of coming off as too much, the loose draping and exaggerated proportions added a lovely sense of abandon to it, lending a rather bohemian spirit to this collection in general.   I thought that the overly windswept hair with the occasional red lip was a fantastic touch as it immediately set the tone for me.  Moreover, even with the loose draping and dramatic swathes of fabric, the tailoring is structured and unique to give the silhouette great shape.  I especially love the haute couture element to it with the expressively billowing capes and slit long skirts of leather.  The house does a fantastic job of presenting not-so-typical basics by distinctively splicing sharp shouldered jackets and artfully compiling scraps into very cool staples that I would totally want in my closet.  And they certainly have a unique way of doing exposed zippers: they are liberally running along leather tops to give an intriguingly streamlined effect.  Although some will miss the eccentricity of Margiela himself, I definitely appreciate this new realistic outlook at Maison Martin Margiela and hope it stays.

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October 24, 2011

Lanvin Spring 2012

Credit: Vogue.com

There is something intangibly wonderful about Lanvin with Alber at the helm.  He is constantly contemplating what the modern woman wants and needs in her wardrobe.  And no one can ground the romanticism of spring like Alber.  Amid all the froth, whimsy, and ethereal tulle, Alber sends a message of strength and power with an incredible intensity.  He never bothers with trends and is hardly content to settle into one theme (he certainly sends multiple notes down the runway).  Moreover, every season, without fail, Lanvin catches my attention amid a deluge of shows and looks because Alber never falters in the quality that he presents every season.  He crafts beautifully designed looks that are as luxurious as they are practical, providing a wonderful blend of style and substance.

In some ways, it is almost more about the mood and persona to the look than the design itself.  For one, Lanvin always has an incredible atmosphere.  But more significantly, Alber manages to embed his designs with modern polish and edge with utter confidence.  It is all about how a woman feels while wearing his clothes.  She exudes a confident strength and chic polish while the effortless fluidity prevents coming off too strict or structured.  As Sarah Mower puts it, “a no-nonsense Amazon of our times [strides] past, briefcase in hand and clad in dark tailoring with built-up shoulders, and a series of tight, sexy skirts; neat, short jackets; and pantsuits,” all ventilated with slashed seams.  Even with the structure and pronounced shoulders (which are an elegant throwback to the eighties by the way), Alber’s designs have a lovely femininity to them.  He has not lost sight of the drape dresses that he has helped turn into a particular signature of Lanvin’s.   A controlled explosion of tulle and silk, sheer and pleated, convey every type of drape dress imaginable that one could want.  There is plenty of pretty to accompany the power woman.

In a lot of ways, what Alber sends down seems contradictory and hodgepodge-like;  he readily shifts from one tone to the next with seemingly no transition (going from power suits to highly bejeweled silk minidresses to writhing python coil prints to fluttery sheer drape dresses), giving us an impressive total of 53 looks.  Yet, somehow, it all works.  He provides practically a complete cycle of what a woman could want for any occasion.  Moreover, there is an unmistakable modernity to every look and confidence to every persona, making this collection an undeniably desirable one for the modern woman.

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October 16, 2011

Balenciaga Spring 2012

Credit: Vogue.com

The benches breaking did the House of Balenciaga a favor.  This would-be disaster had inadvertently added a whole new intensity to the show as a standing-only crowd provides an entirely different dynamic to a live show.  Many described the experience as akin to being at the Church of Balenciaga (probably blasphemous to some, but I would rather have an argument about organized religion here).   Not that Nicolas Ghesquière needs the help; the industry’s finest already speak of Ghesquière-helmed Balenciaga with a touch of reverence.  And for good reason.  Fantastic atmosphere aside, this was a gloriously well-woven futuristic outlook for Nicolas Ghesquière.  Even with the Cristóbal Balenciaga archives at his fingertips (I could happily live in those archives probably), he manages to craft something novel and modern without losing the aesthetic of Cristóbal Balenciaga.

 Now, I could launch into a detailed technical examination of makes Ghesquière a master of design technique here, but honestly, there are many others who are better equipped to do it justice.  I will touch on some of them certainly.  However, Hamish Bowles already does a wonderful job of reviewing this collection.  Please read it here.

Personally, my reaction to this collection is a bit visceral.  I know that many aspects to the modernity of this collection suit my own sense of style and therefore make me already inclined to like it.  But more importantly, Ghesquière has reminded me of the magic of haute couture.  This is a prêt-à-porter collection wrapped up in an elegant haute couture casing.  By weaving in the stiff fabrics of Balenciaga sixties couture, he manages to both give homage to the history of his house and add a luxurious edge to his work.  Textiles of  thick silk ziberline and ribbed ottoman add depth to his vision, subtly calling to mind the sailor influence of this season.  I particularly love how he executes boxy volume and exaggerated proportions, playing with what he describes as “the idea of architecture floating.”  And while the fabrics are sturdy and structured, there is still something very ethereal about this.  The pieces feel grounded by the utilitarian tailoring and distinctive cutting, but move with an unexpected freedom.

It is hard to articulate precisely why I like this.  I think Nicolas Ghesquière has found a balance between fantastical escapism and reliable utilitarian structure.  He is able to harness his considerable technique and apply it to his latest flight of fancy, something not every designer can pull off.  Moreover, I cannot help but marvel at the beautiful craftsmanship that comes out of it.   If anything else (flights of fancy and whatnot), superb technique cannot be faked.  And I applaud Ghesquière for the work he has done.  I am left with visions of “architecture floating.”

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October 9, 2011

Balmain Spring 2012

Credit: Vogue.com

“Something a bit Mexican, bullfighter’s costumes, and wallpaper from Vegas.”

 I am actually properly posting about Balmain this season.  With a new creative director at the helm, I am intrigued by what he had to say in the Vogue preview.

 In spite of a rather eclectic mix of sources of inspiration, Olivier Rousteing signals a return to the decadent heritage of Pierre Balmain with this richly intricate collection.  It is hard to imagine how a collection inspired by Las Vegas, matadors, and cowboys can possibly turn out well, but somehow, Rousteing manages it with aplomb.  And although he carries on the sexy “clubbing” aesthetic of his predecessor, there is a renewed element of haute couture to his first official venture–from the remarkably detailed glittering embroidery to the skillful precise cut of every piece.   I certainly will not say that Balmain’s aesthetic of rock n roll sexiness is my favorite, but I can still appreciate the amount of  dedication and work that he has put into carrying off the minute detail that he has.  Moreover, Rousteing has surprisingly knowledgeable technique for someone so young.  With his geometric, chevroned gold beading and embossed faded baroque curliques, he executes this rather ambitious collection precisely and perfectly in sync with current desire for Deco.  And while Rousteing has given much respect to his predecessors, particularly Pierre and de la Renta, this collection is also reflects his own particular point of view.  The homage is all good and well, but his voice is what truly rises in this renewal, and it is “coming out in fully in favor of unfettered, exuberant bling” as Sarah Mower would say.

Oh, and I love what he wore for his final bow.

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October 8, 2011

Marni Spring 2012

Credit: Vogue.com

My one and only Milano post for this season.

I had instantly adored Marni Spring 2012 from the get go.  There is something very fresh and wonderfully quirky about Consuelo Castiglioni’s take on sixties mod.  She certainly has a way with print and color; her vision for Spring 2012 is well thought out and beautifully streamlined into easy sheath dresses.  More importantly, this is hardly a retro rendition of sixties styling.  The brightness of monochromatic geometric prints and textured hounds-tooth brocade is inescapable, but Castiglioni has a way of calming the madness.  In fact, rather than giving me a headache, I found her geometric prints a vibrantly stark standout in a sea of pastel.  Her intriguingly unusual color combinations and fearless (and most certainly skillful) mix of patterns give us vibrancy without overwhelming us; we are treated to a collection that is wonderfully modern.  The fall-like mesh (look 28), in particular, is fabulously innovative; the colors should not work together but they totally do.  Moreover, by breaking up the line with multiple hemlines, Castiglioni gives us a unique take on color blocking.  I love the idea of tailored sheaths layered over sheer silk and how the tiered layers lead to a different outlook on peplum.

What I love the most, however, is how effortless the execution feels.  Consuelo Castiglioni’s mix of texture and pattern never spins out of control, is never too ambitious.  The silhouette remains judiciously minimalist with clean lines and well-placed layering.  Even then, the classic tailoring of the sheath dress never feels too strict.  And nipping in the waist with well-placed cut-outs is a great touch.  There is a balance to this collection that is a wonder to watch unfold.  Everything comes to together, resulting some seriously chic pieces.

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October 2, 2011

Roksanda Ilincic Spring 2012

Credit: Vogue.com

Standing out with her easy elegance and dynamic fluidity, Roksanda Ilincic’s spring is awash with bohemian romanticism and sophisticated tailoring.  The monochromatic color blocking is startling vibrant, lending a youthful air to the easy grace of her pieces.  I feel that her color choices are startling modern and an excellent wake-up call to end London.  Moreover, I love the touch of nineties allusion (for once!) with the loose knit beanies as it adds a bit of bohemian quirk to the otherwise polished looks.  There is an overall modernity to this collection that I like about this collection in general.  While structured, the silhouette does not feel strict, and the shape has a great dramatic dynamic to it.  I love how the volume is introduced in an unusual manner, gathering more often at the hip or in the sleeves.   And the way the dress falls is fantastically dramatic.  She has cut the dresses so that they fall with a fluid line, giving one long chic column of fabric.  So in the end, Roksanda Ilincic has presented us with dramatic minimalism, making quiet simplicity a striking standout.

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