Archive for ‘Designer’

December 8, 2015

Jonathan Saunders

Oh Jonathan Saunders…you are probably one of the dearest designers for me. He was the one to make me rediscover London Fashion Week. He made me sit up and take notice even when I was feeling the malaise of the constant, seemingly endless stream of shows. Not to mention he always provided such a gorgeous escape from the tedium of daily life. He has such a brilliant brilliant eye for color and print. He delights in vivid art and lush color combinations. And when coupled with his beautiful craftsmanship, his collection was always one to watch out for. It stuns and revels in elevating the ordinary. There is something special about his work. A quality to it that is hard to capture.

So I leave you with one of my favorite collections of his: Fall 2012. Though, if I were to think about it, all of his collections are strong; I am partial to all to them in some way. Where he will go next, who knows. But, hopefully, he isn’t done designing quite just yet. He is one of the many who are stepping down in 2015, but definitely one of the saddest departures for me personally. He will be sorely missed.

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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.

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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 28, 2013

Proenza Schouler Spring 2013

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Credit: Vogue.com

Proenza Schouler is always intriguing in that Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez tend to take something well known and splice it into something entirely different.  Spring 2013 evolves from color-blocked pieces of perforated leather to conclude in a collage of random photos found on Tumblr, literally marrying technological advancements with satin dress designs.  And the results isn’t always pretty, but it is mesmerizing to watch.  It is also eye-catching as hell.  The journey in between is a patchwork of the two: solid perforated leather gives way to quilted leather blocks which then snakes its way into “bias-cut chiffon dresses” which winds into enthralling swirls and eddies about pieces of black lace.  The final set of looks finds a way to combine a bit of everything, incorporating the digital print with geometric blocking.  All of which is then perforated with grommets and little satin discs of matching color.  The overall collection is unbelievably complex and uniquely striking.  And I don’t know any other design who could pull something like this off without coming across as highly bizarre.

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The Proenza Schouler boys (I know that they are all grown up now, but still!) are pushing design boundaries with this collection, crafting together something coolly avant garde.  They have graduated from those chicly collegiate days with the tie-dye hair and the midriff barring surf gear, and I have certainly enjoyed the journey.  This feels oddly like modern art to me (probably in the loosest sense  because hell if I know anything at all about modern art) driven by the world we currently live in.  And in the end, this collection is “perversely chic” (Hamish Bowles) with its uniquely modern references and beautifully parsed pieces.

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January 31, 2013

Alexander Wang Spring 2013

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Credit: Vogue.com

“…tension and subtraction expressed through structure and fluidity.” – Alexander Wang

Alexander Wang delivers an intriguing suspended take on deconstruction for Spring 2013.  While I still remain partial to his Fall 2012 collection, I found this to be a masterful demonstration of cut and fit.  Spring 2013 is both effortlessly modern and cooly innovative.  It remains true to the sporty street style makeup inherent to Wang’s style while presenting a slickly tailored shape.  Streamlined structure takes on a whole other concept of lightness with the pieces seeming to suspend in the air.  I particularly love the use of negative space in this collection.  Strips of cotton, python, and leather are cleverly held together with fagoting threads and clear mesh filaments, resulting in a rather alluring illusion.  Each piece appears delicate as if it could unravel with the slightest touch, and yet, manages to defy gravity.  Moreover, this is a collection of fluid suspension without any sort of romance.  Sleek lines dominate with minimal fuss while even overblown woven knit tightly adheres to the torso.  The trompe l’oeil layering is elegantly rendered to reveal crisp white cotton or flashes of skin.  Moreover, a monochromatic palette feels refreshingly on point for spring.  This is until we are to treated to the fantastic glow-in-the-dark curtain call.  In doing so, Wang is able to meld the wild rave-like element more characteristic of his after parties to this chicly innovative collection. Bravo.

Alexander Wang Spring 2013 finale part 2

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January 23, 2013

Alexander McQueen Fall 2012

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Credit: Vogue.com

“A kind of soft futurism. Not cold and structured, but optimistic and forward-looking.” – Sarah Burton

Sarah Burton just totally went to town with volume and feathers.  And I love it.  This collection is fabulously–crazily–dramatic.  Soft exploding tiers of organza, chiffon, and feathers are paired with futuristic visors and slick platinum blond wigs.  All with heel-less ankle boots made to match.  Nothing practical here, but man, what a delightful spectacle.  The movement of the pieces is glorious to watch as a 3-D petaled concoctions float by.  Absolutely riveting.  Moreover, I love the continuation of the theme from Spring 2012.  Voluminous scalloped waves call to mind the inside of an oyster surrounding a shiny pearl (or metallic bud in this case).

Burton is fantastic at introducing a beautiful femininity to McQueen’s legacy.  She has a remarkable ability to infuse drama with light.  I highly doubt that anyone but the house of Alexander McQueen could pull off a collection quite like this and make me like it nearly as much.  Showmanship and exquisite craftsmanship all rolled into one with this presentation full of lovely frothy blooms.  Utter insanity, but one I can definitely get behind.

Oh, and the set (as always) is lovely.  I adore the eclectic chandelier of naked lightbulbs.  Quirky, exposed, and excellently executed.  Something quite characteristic of a Alexander McQueen show.

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December 7, 2012

Chanel Pre-Fall 2013

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Credit: Vogue.com

“This is about the queen of fashion and the Queen of Scotland—who was also French, you know.” – Karl Lagerfeld

I don’t normally post pre-fall collections, but the Chanel Pre-Fall 2013 collection was so fabulously on point for the season that I had to make a post on it. I find that my initial reactions to collections tend to dictate the coherence of the post, for better or worse, so you are forewarned. Gorgeous, dramatic, and romantic, all characteristics that greatly appeal to me in a collection. And while this is a collection intended for next fall, Karl Lagerfeld timed it perfectly to fit in wonderfully with upcoming the holiday season. Timing, after all, is everything.

There is a distinct lack of tweed and tartan plaid in my closet–two elements largely associated with Coco Chanel. I feel that one must have a certain gravitas to pull them off without feeling particularly stuff and old. That being said, there is a romanticism to this collection that I very thoroughly enjoyed. Karl Lagerfeld always effortlessly alludes to Chanel’s heritage, and pre-fall 2013 certainly remains on par. Moreover, I love the sense of history and dose of drama. Lagerfeld’s technique, of course, is superb, providing a haute couture element to pre-fall. Each piece is finished wonderfully with punctuated flourish. There are plenty of “Elizabethan-accented ruffled necklines, doublet corsets, and ballooning sleeves” intermixed with the classic Chanel suits and Scottish tartan kilts to satisfy consummate Chanel wearers and Elizabethan history buffs alike. This is a collection rich with Scottish heritage without literally getting lost in it. Karl is fantastic at taking an inspiration and rendering it effortlessly relevant, delivering both modern ease-of-wear and intricate craftsmanship. And of course, this collection is beautifully supplemented by the setting. Karl always masterfully sets the tone and mood for every collection, utterly enveloping his audience in his vision. Pre-Fall 2013 happens to be cast in the Scottish courtyard of Linlithgow Palace with snow magically falling just as the first girl walks out.

Please see Sarah Mower’s review for a much more coherent and detailed take on this collection: here

Also, watch the show! Here.

Edit [4/20/2013]: See Trevor Undi’s gorgeous film about this collection

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July 13, 2012

McQ Fall 2012

Credit: Style.com

Sarah Burton reconciles McQ affordability with Alexander McQueen sense of grandeur for McQ’s first ever runway show. McQ imparts many of the elements associated with the Alexander McQueen aesthetic, imbuing a dark sense of glamour and romance to the Fall 2012 collection. I love the idea of being able to find beautiful clothes at any price point, and Burton’s autumnal vision certainly reinforces that idea. In fact, this presentation felt a bit magical as it opened with a fanciful bed of autumn leaves–something hard to come by in the middle of spring. The silhouette is dramatically sculpted from luxurious lamb wool and decadent velvet. Masterful tailoring is on display in the gorgeous military styled outerwear, whereas evening gowns entrance with their Edwardian charm.  Sarah Burton gets us ready for autumn while Kristen McMenamy leads us on a whimsical journey through crinkling leaves for a show stopping finale.

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March 13, 2012

Proenza Schouler Fall 2012

Credit: Vogue.com

“Warrior” immediately came to my mind when watching the Proenza Schouler Fall show.  There was something incredibly exhilarating about watching the Proenza Schouler girls stomping down that runway with such a resounding presence and thrilling confidence.  Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez have re-defined traditional Eastern dress and sixties punk in a way that is both startlingly cool and completely modern.  What impresses me the most  is how these boys are able to revolutionize a centuries’ old technique and rework it into their own aesthetic, rendering their collection utterly unique–and instantly covetable.  They constantly surprise me with where their latest road trip will take them next.  Their month-long stay in Bhutan and Nepal played rather intriguing role in this latest collection.

While I tend to favor a more tailored silhouette personally, I am rather enamored with the slouchy silhouette the Proenza Schouler boys have going on for Fall 2012.  There is a fantastic effortlessness about the volume and artfully haphazard fastening.  And the over-sized proportions feel perfectly on point for the season, almost like they are enveloping the wearer in a chic protective layer.  Moreover, I love how protective clothing has been re-imagined in their eyes.  This is certainly outerwear like I’ve never seen before.  Cotton pieces, opening the show, were made sturdier with quilted texture and waffled padding whereas dense brocade and woven leather heavily allude to their Far Eastern influence.  It is intriguing how Jack and Laz have fused together elements of the Bhutanese national costume with contemporary pieces; tough biker jackets, tailored peacoats, and collegiate sweatershirts are adapted into an amalgamate of both genres.

In a season that has displayed some rather fantastic monochromatic palettes, Proenza Schouler immediately catches the eye with their geometric prints.  And I love how Jack and Laz have chosen to play with texture along with their strong color palette.  Leather is perforated and blasted into a roughed-up grittiness while brocade and woven leather have been liberally interspersed throughout the collection, adding another layer of intrigue to their already cool pieces.  The embroidered hexagons in the tunic of look 24 for example or the mod pattern seen in look 20 are particular standouts whereas woven leather–found in samurai uniforms–is mixed with metallic paillette into striking miniskirts.  While some looks are more overtly “Asian” than others (look 31 definitely comes to mind), Jack and Laz keep things interesting with asymmetrical piping and daring hemlines.

Moreover, there are plenty of sweater/kilt combinations throughout the collection, bringing back the sort of punkish collegiate style that Jack and Laz had started out with way back when.   I love how they have a cool collegiate chic feel as a backbone to their line.  And while it is always a thrill to see where these boys will go next, the Proenza Schouler girl is always immediately apparent.  Jack and Lazaro never lose sight of who they are as designers which makes their imaginative collections all the more exciting.  And with that, I am finally onto the London shows!

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February 22, 2012

The Row Fall 2012

Credit: Vogue.com

Without fail, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have always managed to astonish with their incredibly sophisticated designs for The Row ever since its inception.  Considering the origins of the name to their haute couture line (Savile Row), it is hardly surprising that theirs is a dedication to gorgeously constructed tailoring.  And it has certainly lived up to its inspiration.

There is an incredible sense of luxury to every collection; more importantly, it showcases this without any sort of snobbery.  The thoughtfulness and quality is easily apparent with every line to every piece.  I feel that the Olsens did their homework in a sense and built the sense of luxury from ground up–starting with the fabric.  This allows for a delightful sense of decadence to permeate throughout the very aesthetic of The Row.  In fact, I am quite enamored with the clean lines and minimalist haute couture feel to their collections.  The classic nature to their designs have a timelessness that is hard to come by nowadays.  Moreover, they understand how to parse down something complex into a reality that is deceptively simple without “dumbing it down.”  Every piece has a quiet dignity about it and is impressively restrained while remaining utterly current.  And I love how they can add a bit of quirk to it without losing the elegance.  The spliced paneling and woven-in Lurex, for example, forces a viewer to take a closer look at intriguingly re-worked outerwear.

The Row is the epitome of ease, modern luxury, and quality in the realm of American design today.  Which is mightily impressive for a pair of 25-year-olds who have the additional obstacle of divorcing their line from their aura of celebrity.  I can only marvel at the beautifully constructed designs and fervently hope that the Olsens continue for a long time to come.

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