Archive for ‘Paris’

February 26, 2014

Haider Ackermann Spring 2013

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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

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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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“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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“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’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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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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