Archive for ‘Paris’

November 28, 2011

Céline Spring 2012



[Yes, I do realize that this is well over a month behind…]

Phoebe Philo has this remarkable ability to transform a relatively unassuming (and unfortunately forgettable at times) house into something practical and relevant and more importantly, utterly covetable.   There an undeniably chic quality to Céline this season.  Her study of “strength, proportion, and a woman’s form” is wonderfully executed with sophisticated aplomb.  But what I truly love about Philo’s vision for Céline is how organic it feels.  The lack of influence or inspiration to it makes it all the more refreshing after a long series of shows (they all start to blend together after a while).  With a clean palette, Philo is able to give us a collection that showcases a practical sort of sophistication supported by a particularly brilliant technique.  And her technique is exquisite.

If nothing else, Phoebe Philo’s concept of line and structure is superb.  Her Spring 2012 has all the ease of a Sunday morning, providing a great sense of luxury and leisure.  Heavier fabrics are reworked into effortlessly polished looks perfectly suited for spring; tailored leather pieces–a specialty of hers–turn unbelievably supple and convey chic elegance.   I love the asymmetry that she introduces, leaving a fluttery trail of fabric in the model’s wake.  Something about a fluttering train totally signals spring to me; it must be the airiness of the movement.  And she offers a fantastic version of the peplum to boot; the “abstracted peplums” (Mower) or “basques” as she calls them are fabulously weighty.  There is some serious volume to them.  Certainly nothing like the flirty feminine peplums some have shown this season.  I find the abstract, slightly futuristic take all the more enchanting for Philo’s lack of romantic flight of fancy.

Abstract peplums aren’t the only thing to love about Céline this season.  I am sort of in love with the silhouette of the first couple of looks.  Trust Phoebe Philo to make me delight in the idea of a sturdy, structured coat for spring.  There is something indulgently avant garde about the sloped silhouette with its exaggerated rounded shoulders and curved sleeves, trellised flourishes subtly embossed onto rich cream or deep Merlot.   And I love the bit of weight to the structured coats, giving it much more presence than the tissue-thin light concoctions usually seen in the spring shows.  Moreover, solid suede platforms grounding the entire collection without overwhelming the look; they add just the right amount of strength and balance to sheathed excesses of fabric.  Another exquisitely proportioned for collection for the ever-chic Phoebe Philo.

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June 13, 2011

Chloé X

Credit: Smile

Janie Taylor by Bon Duke for The Block Magazine SS 2011

Prima Ballerina Janie Taylor (NYC Ballet) puts the ballet-inspired Chloé Spring 2011 “Ethereal Collection” to the test in this beautiful choreographed piece by fellow principal dancer Justin Peck (who also stars).  The short film (also by Bon Duke) is gorgeous.  I love seeing the pieces in movement; they just flow so beautifully.  Janie breathes life into this collection with the aid of Justin’s choreography.  And to be fair, I was far more impressed with the short film than either the collection or the shots.  Janie (along with Justin) showcases exactly why she is a prima ballerina; the pieces come along for the ride.  But I do love how it all comes together to create a little piece of art.

The one on is better.  I’d embed the video here but wordpress decided to make it complicated.

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October 9, 2010

Alexander McQueen Spring 2011


I can’t figure quite how to start this post.  It is difficult to summarize my feelings on Alexander McQueen.  For one, there is still the reality of Lee McQueen’s loss.  Especially when there was just a very moving funeral during London Fashion Week.  But alas, we move on.  Jame Joyce seems apt for this occasion: They lived and laughed and loved and left.

Many feared for the fate of Alexander McQueen after the loss of its ubiquitous creator.  In an industry that operates under a six months marker, everything is transient.  Disassembling what Lee McQueen had created would have been a great travesty, but more importantly who could possibly carry it on with dignity?  There are few, if any, who have the vision of Lee McQueen.  I am glad that Sarah Burton has stepped in to carry the privilege and burden of continuing McQueen’s work.  Being his very first assistant for the past fourteen years would make her, out of anyone, best suited to carry out his legacy.  And she has a tight line to walk: respect what Alexander McQueen stands for as well as giving the collection a voice of her own.

Alexander McQueen has always given me a sense of wonder and left me to stare in awe at the magic that is a glamorous Alexander McQueen creation.  With uniqueness and precision, he has crafted works of art.  He is the master of theatricality and presentation.  Moreover, he is an innovator and one of the first to embrace technology in the fashion world.  He believed in the future of fashion and projecting his vision to the world.  There is no replacement for Lee McQueen.  That being said, Sarah Burton has done an admirable job at carrying on his legacy with her own outlook.  She handles this collection with poise and reverence, and ultimately with the utmost respect for Lee McQueen.

Burton beautifully sets the tone with bare boards as a walkway that would seem stark except for the shoots of grass peeking out between the cracks.  Which reveals her deep understanding of symbolism.  This is a new beginning.  And very apt for Spring.  While this is a very McQueen-style collection, Burton seems to be influenced by ancient pagan English symbolism along with Greek mythology.  Mainly, there are references to nature throughout the collection.  What really stood out were the wheat-like woven bodices and dresses reminded me of Demeter bringing back spring after the depression of winter when Persephone returns to her.  Which hopefully signifies what McQueen’s line will be like under Sarah Burton’s control.

It is not overtly revealed, but Burton infuses McQueen silhouettes with a wearable quality.  There is the fantastical element of avant-garde McQueen, but it is melded with practicality.  Well…initially at any rate.  She opens with a carefully deconstructed fluttering white tailcoat composed of ten layers of silk–each edge hand-frayed.  And remains in that territory with black tuxedo vests, elegant skirts, and military belts before free-falling into McQueen romanticism.  I heartily approve.  Sarah Burton demonstrates that she can create refined wearable clothes without losing any imagination or fantasy.

There are cornhusk dolls and poppies, woven opaque-to-sheer into molded jackets and looped chiffon skirts along with grain-woven gowns; flowing fantastical dresses of silk and chiffon in white and vibrant dyed patterns controlled by an elaborate golden-leaved clasp clamp around the waist; a dress composed of a butterfly pattern complete with butterfly shoes; garlands of flowers wrapped together to create a dress; dramatically dye-dipped gowns that are elaborately rusched together to leave a flowing glamorous train…but Burton’s true design triumph lies in the two closing gowns: feathered perfection.  They are everything that any McQueen lover could possibly want from his successor.

It seems apt that I am closing my last remarks on Spring 2011 with Alexander McQueen.  While Louis Vuitton and Miu Miu are great fun, I feel Alexander McQueen captures everything I’m feeling about Fashion Month closing better than those two houses do.  I hope to leave you with a poignant lasting image of Spring 2011.  Alexander McQueen is clearly the best option for that.

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October 8, 2010

Celine Spring 2011




There is just something about Phoebe Philo, something charismatic about her designs.  She caused it once with Chloé, and she’s doing it again with Celine: a movement of transformation.  Phoebe Philo has forever changed the scope of the fashion industry by providing exactly what we need and want at just the right moment.  She has this amazing timing, and moreover, a talent for designing exquisite pieces that women snatch up in droves.  And it is not just critics and industry who love it.  The proof is in the sales: Celine’s fashion stock as a brand has gone through the roof ever since Philo took over.  The collection has been selling out ever since her return.  It is kind of crazy actually.  I feel a little bit bad about this unabashed love for Phoebe Philo (as deserved as it is); she is quite a private person and probably prefers to keep producing excellent beautiful clothes than to be mobbed by the adoring masses.

And while, this collection is not my absolute favorite of hers (that goes to her very first: Celine Spring 2009 actually), Phoebe Philo continues to present new shapes and an easy structure to her collection.  This is a softening of her strictly structured collections previously.  Like Stella McCartney, she is certainly feeling the romantic seventies.  While this influence does not come out as blatantly in hers as in other collections, there is an even greater ease about this particular spring collection.  Spring 2011 follows the Moroccan-North African inspiration she had done for Resort 2010.  And while that is not overtly apparent, the characteristics are there if one looks closely enough: “djellaba-caftan influence came in with her oversize top”s which can be traced in varying degrees to North Africa as well as Berber hoods or a “tufted cream hand-loomed halter.”  She does not strive to be trite and create an “ethnic” collection.  And I respect her for that.  She strives to craft exquisite clothes that are refined, yet useful, to women.  And Philo herself puts it quite succinctly what this collection is ultimately about: freedom.

What I love and appreciate is that she has adapted the movement that she had started.  I can confidently state that Phoebe Philo is truly the one who had ushered us into this minimalist moment with quiet authority.  And she is unhurried in shifting from it.  That is where her impeccable timing appears once again.  While the fashion world is reacting about her, whether that be mimicry or loud maximalist protest, Philo continues to design beautiful clothes with poise and certainty.  In an industry with some interesting (and loud) characters, there is Phoebe Philo, calm amidst the storm.  And she will continue to succeed in whatever design endeavors she attempts in the future precisely for that aplomb, talent, and impeccable timing.

There are many designers that I profess to absolutely love and loudly proclaim their talents (Proenza Schouler boys, Alexander Wang, Lee McQueen, Alber Elbaz), but there are none quite like Phoebe Philo.  [But Jack + Laz? I still <<<3 you.]

Please read Sarah Mower’s review at as I took a couple themes from that.

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October 8, 2010

Lanvin Spring 2011


Oh Alber…You make me fall in love with clothes and this industry all over again.  Forget current trends and industry obsession with the seventies and nineties, Alber Elbaz is in a league of his own.  His aesthetic cannot be classified.  He simply makes exquisite clothes that are relevant and tied into the way we live now.   And they are excellently crafted with a masterful sense of proportions and shape.  He excellently navigates between the question of short vs long length and flat vs high heel.   He presents structured silhouettes, ladylike dressing, loose maxi easiness, minimalist tailoring, everything a chic woman would want.  I love how he introduces the collection with flowing dresses (perfect for spring!) before moving to structured minimalist looks that conform effortlessly to the body and finally closing with ladylike refinement. He has taken ladylike office appropriate clothes and transformed them with ultra lined fabric and vibrant sportiness.   The frayed edges to that one dress was a fantastic touch (above, lower right).  Just the perfect amount of deconstruction to balance out the minimalist look of the dress.

The loose looks are effortlessly chic as Alber’s controlled volume enough to provide ease without chaos.  In the beginning he starts us off with a sportier feel that effortlessly flow into the fluttery skirt, but he closes with true comfortable minimalism.  And that’s a major point for Alber.  This probably sums of the essence of what Alber wants for Lanvin: “In the end, I realize I only want to make women feel gorgeous, comfortable, and beautiful.”  And by God he has done just that.  He gives women versatility, practicality, and an wonderful sense of self.  For a man, he truly understands how women want to feel while wearing beautiful clothes: empowered, comfortable, and gorgeous.

People frequently scoff at clothes being more than preventing us from nakedness.  And I think they underestimate what looking good does for a person’s psyche.  Alber certainly caters to that.  He understands the way well-crafted clothes can make a woman feel and how the right look can brighten her day.  He is devoted to dreaming up beautiful clothes and nothing more.  He does not strive to deal in trends or provide overarching intellectual collections; he simply–wonderfully–provides exquisite chic clothes. <3

And of course, gorgeous clothes must be accented by an equally gorgeous beauty.  Long lovely lashes complete a face.  That is really all there is too it.  Who really wants anything else?  Brights, red lip, and metallics are one thing; a beautiful foundation of clear clean skin and glamorous lashes are truly the basics of beauty.  Women constantly search out the best mascara and play with new formulas for a reason.  Long, well curved dark lashes mean instant glamour.

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October 7, 2010

The Row Spring 2011


Due to some unfortunate delay in sample deliveries, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen had to delay what was supposed to be their second showing at NYFW.  However, New York’s loss is Paris’s gain: the quality and aesthetic of The Row fit right in with the Paris crowd.  Which is unusual to say the least.  But I guess I shouldn’t be saying that about these particular twins.  Mary-Kate and Ashley have frequently known as style icons for the noughties (horrid name for the decade of the 2000s) and many would right them off as such.  But it would be grievous error to label the Olsens as “celebrity designers.”  They are far from it.  And it would be a grave insult to their remarkable line.

The Row is a brand of exquisite craftsmanship and displays the thoughtfulness of Mary-Kate and Ashley.  While it is a relatively young line, Mary-Kate and Ashley display a remarkable quality of craftsmanship.  I recall Ashley once stating that The Row is about creating the perfect tee or the perfect trousers or the perfect [fill-in article of clothing here].  Quite an arrogant statement–if it weren’t true.  Ashley, along with her sister, has indeed delivered on that claim.  The Row has gone from its start of French seam teeshirt dressing to covetable leather jackets, tuxedo jackets, traditional menswear trousers, and perhaps, most impressive, leggings that do not droop or sag.  This is displays a talent for design that go far beyond actors who just decided to turn into designing on a whim.  The amount of thought they put into it and research they have done can clearly be seen in the clothes.  In fact, this line of “basics” cannot be labelled as such; the quality is so exquisite that they defy such a label.

The Olsens are clever.  They essentially do what they know.  And those two most certainly understand fashion and know clothes.  They understand the idea of fit and concept of proportions.  And being who they are, they had to find the perfect proportions to suit their petite frames while still maintaining their personal styles.  They are also current.  The Row has a sense of timelessness to it, yet they are very much connected to the current moment.  A contradiction that is so very much idiosyncratic to the Olsens themselves.

What is great about The Row is the Olsens ability to design exactly what women today need.  They deal with the issues women frequently have with basics that should in fact suit all women but hardly do due to the quality of the mass market today.  And they present this elegantly crafted solution and add a refined feel to every day clothes.  This Spring collection no different. Exquisite, on-trend without being trite, collection that give the wearer control over the look (zippers to adjust the length of the long skirts and oh look, actual lining to the silk).

For more details on the clothes, read about it here

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October 7, 2010

Valentino Spring 2011


Hello there Pier Paolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri.  I like what you’ve done with the place.

Valentino was going through some controversy and difficulty for a bit as it attempted to transition its image and shift its audience from an older demographic to one that encompassed both young and old with a poignant yet applicable ready-to-wear line.   Not to mention, moving in a more modern direction without losing any of its history or identity.  I believe that Piccioli and Chiuri have done just that.

I know that Piccioli and Chiuri had weaving the fairytale as an inspiration for their very first spring collection of Valentino, but it feels that way all the time.  And while I do miss the glamorous good ol’ days with the distinctive Valentino red and luxurious gowns (that is what, after all, Valentino couture is for), I really appreciate what they have managed to do with Valentino’s ready-to-wear line.  The clothes are more apt to ever day life while maintaining excellent quality and sense of femininity.  Piccioli and Chiuri stated that they would like to shift the romance of Valentino’s glamour and couture “in an effortless direction, more seductive, more subtle” for Spring 2011. And I think they’ve succeeded.

While this collection is still ultrafeminine and poetically girly, there is a modern sense of elegance throughout the collection.  The edition of tailored leather shorts peeking out beneath a sheer romantic top were an excellent touch.  The lines to some of the dresses are cleaned up to present an almost minimalist dress in the palest shade of blush show an awareness of the times.  Lace is carefully crafted into ladylike silhouettes while scalloped dusty rose pumps create a modern take on the romantic seventies that everyone is so fascinated by this season.  But the length is subtly sexy and the fit is tighter gently slope along the curves of a woman’s body.  Leather edges to some of the more romantic dresses creates modern edges to the girlier moments.  But there is still some of those fairytale moments with tulle layers above a tan base, but the length is shorter and at the knee to give a more current fairytale moment.  Seventies romantic maxi skirts with silk tiers become a little more structured to create this long lean line.  And an easy braid completes the look to create an unfussy look overall.

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October 6, 2010

Givenchy Spring 2011


Givenchy was probably one of the most overt anti-minimalist collections.  Riccardo went full out in-your- face “supersexy, hard-core, erotic,” with leopard print galore and Gothic S&M style clothes.  That’s cool if that’s where your particular aesthetic lies.  While I am totally down for the S&M bondage style clothing (bring on those straps and criss-crosses), I am never a big fan of leopard print or really any animal print for that matter.  This is certainly not a collection for me.  However, I was able to find a few pieces that I can truly appreciate.  Riccardo Tisci, after all, deals in a haute couture, not just prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear).  He has the technique to have many layers without adding bulk or frumpiness.  He finds compromise in tight short skirts and shorts under a sheer skirt or trousers; it allows Tisci to play around with a sexy tightness while remaining on trend with the looser and longer trend.

Moreover, he layers these gorgeous bondage minis atop fitted flutted trousers.  Zippers run throughout the piece, lining some edges and adding edgy accents to the minidresses.  Some have sexy cut-outs, showing off the hipbones amidst zipper edges.  Others create an elegant silhouette and an illusion of covered-up with high neckline, yet showcase shoulders and arms and bare the entire back.  But everything is masterfully proportioned: revealing pieces appear refined while layers can be piled on without bulk.  Riccardo Tisci may be shoving blatant sex appeal at us all, but there is nothing desperate or vulgar about it.  The trompe l’oeil is exquisitely fused and the hardline zippers add interest and sex appeal to the collection.  Think like Carine Roitfeld: being sexy is about sex, not about trying to be sexy.

And I guess the true thing of note from Givenchy’s collection is the remarkable now-brunette Natasha Poly.  She looks shocking different from the way she does naturally as a blond.  Decidedly more avant-garde for sure.

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October 6, 2010

Chloé Spring 2011


Decidedly very pretty ballet-inspired collection by Hannah MacGibbon.  Seeing as she was inspired by classical ballerinas, this is hardly surprising.  Chloé maintains this fresh beauty, effortless flowing style identity; MacGibbon carries on this tradition.  While there is clear Chloé history in the flowing gauzy skirts, this is the furthest it has gone in the direction of dance.  I like that she keeps the face and hair clean, presenting an almost clean slate for the clothes as that is also very ballet-like.

While there are some full out corps de ballet looks complete with tulle skirt, stretchy knit tops, and full ballerina flats, MacGibbon hardly presents a dance collection.  There are minimalist pieces such as tightly streamlined long sleeve dresses in a beauty rich cream along with structured A-line coats in vibrant crimson.  And MacGibbon doesn’t stop there: she presents sleeveless leather tops attached to controlled A-line skirts that fall just below the knee in black and camel.  A staple I’m sure that Chloé lovers will snatch up.  MacGibbon certainly provides plenty of camel for her camel-loving crowd.  Moreover, the small rectangular box bags are a wonderful little touch.  Gone are the days of the padlocked Chloé “It” bags.  And I’m glad.   These are modern yet timeless.  Much more suited to aesthetic of Chloé.

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October 5, 2010

Yves Saint Laurent Spring 2011


Chic classic YSL.  With spectacular tailoring and intricate finishing touches, Stefano Pilati creates an utterly YSL collection.  It’s difficult to miss the references to YSL throughout fashion month with smoking jackets, longer lengths, jumpsuits, and tuxedo jackets floating about.  And of course, the utter chic feel to everything.  However, even if the designer is worthy (such as Stella), none do it quite like YSL.  And while Yves St. Laurent is no longer with us, Stefano Pilati has managed to capture the utter essence that is St. Laurent.  Depicting exquisite tailoring, Pilati left many of the pieces untouched by embellishment but leaves tiny finishing touches in the thin gold chain holding together a neckline or a tiny gold cuff griping a halter.  Moreover, this collection is beautifully lined with bold black edges to a white skirt (that bolded tilted pocket is positively enlightened) or gold lining a thin band around the waist.  These little things prevent the collection from entirely recycling YSL’s admittedly rich history archive.

Pilati adds some girlish moments in as well.  While YSL specialized in menswear-inspired clothing, Pilati mixes in some romantic seventies with vibrant ruffle dresses, ruffle-edged textured skirts, and perfectly knotted bows.  There appears to be some Spanish flair as well with flamenco style dresses with a skirt the flutters about the model’s feet.  Pilati gives volume, but it carefully controlled, adding structure and well-defined flow along the body.  And Pilati has this wonderful sense of proportion.  For example, I cannot get over this one jumpsuit.  The proportions to it are pitch- perfect; especially with little slits at the waist.  It excellently emphasizes the waist while displaying the curves of a woman’s body.  And the amount of skin shown on top is controlled by the sleekness of the loose silk of the pant.  And there’s that tiny gold-lined band around the waist again.  I love how it cuts above the top of the pants in the back as well.  I guess it also helps that it’s Jac who’s wearing it :)

Stefano Pilati has done an excellent YSL-worthy collection.

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