Thursday, March 13, 2014

LVMH Announces Its Twelve Fashion Prize Finalists

The panel of experts has spoken, the votes are in, and today we can announce the twelve talents who will move on to the final round of the heated LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers competition. Atto by Julien Dossena, CG by Chris Gelinas, Gabriele Colangelo, Shayne Oliver’s Hood by Air, Jacquemus by Simon Porte Jacquemus, Miuniku by Nikita and Tina Sutradhar, Thomas Tait, Tillmann Lauterbach, Tim Coppens, Simone Rocha, Suno by Max Osterweis and Erin Beatty, and Vika Gazinskaya will go head-to-head for the award’s 300,000 euro grant. 
But wait, you might be thinking. Weren’t there only supposed to be ten finalists? Yes, but LVMH’s team of forty industry insiders simply could not decide after surveying the work of the competition’s thirty semifinalists during an event at Paris fashion week. “It’s so hard,” offered Louis Vuitton’s executive vice president Delphine Arnault, who has been spearheading the initiative. “When we compiled the votes, four designers all had the same amount, so we let twelve in. I think it’s good.” We’re sure the finalists would agree.
The dozen men’s and womenswear designers, who hail from round the globe, will each have fifteen minutes to present their Fall ’14 collections at the LVMH headquarters in May. Judges including Karl Lagerfeld, Raf Simons, Nicolas Ghesquière, Marc Jacobs, Riccardo Tisci, and others will consider their efforts, and later choose a winner. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Louis Vuitton FALL 2014 READY-TO-WEAR

Few designers are as beloved, respected, or copied as Ghesquière is, and he's been off the scene and badly missed since his departure from Balenciaga a year and a half ago. Only Raf Simons' debut at Dior was as breathlessly anticipated as Ghesquière's at Vuitton. 
As the metal blinds of the Cour Carree show space opened to bright sun, Freja Beha Erichsen emerged in a black leather snap-front coat with a wide caramel-colored collar, carrying the new Petite Malle bag, a miniature LV trunk at her fingertips. The coat's flared A-line cut and abbreviated thigh-high hem was the show's predominant silhouette, but if that shape cued a 1960s vibe, the workmanship was 21st-century state of the art.You won't find a more luxurious coat than the black crocodile shown here, despite its industrial zip front, or a jacket as well made as the one he patchworked in different colored leathers.
Naturally, there were a lot of skins, a lot of suede, a lot of leather, and naturally Ghesquière used them in innovative ways. A pair of cool evening looks had molded leather bodices and knit skirts aswirl with hand-cut feathers. Elsewhere, the designer's famous flair for experimentation was somewhat scaled back. (That mostly holds true for the bags as well, save for a double-handled style that in fact came with just one handle.) That came across in an outfit like the checked three-button blazer accompanied by glossy leather jeans and a red cardigan with a frilly white collar underneath, and in another that consisted of a white turtleneck, a trim black jacket, and a skirt in wool and crinkly leather, the new LV suit. And in a third that was as straightforward as a ski sweater and a belted A-line mini can be. Skirts and dresses were squarely the focus, yet fans of Ghesquière's life-changing trousers could take heart at the sight of a high-waisted style into which he tucked a khaki jacket. In any case, there will be plenty of seasons for pants. This was a great beginning, understated but not without power, for Ghesquière and the new Louis Vuitton.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cédric Charlier fall 2014 ready-to-wear

Cédric Charlier acknowledged some of the season's signal items today when he showed generously cut trousers, culottes, sweatshirts, oversize drop-shoulder coats, and short dresses paired with thigh-high boots. That's what is called being "on trend," and it's a savvy place for a relatively new designer to be. But that's not really the hard part. The challenge is standing out in the crowd, creating a signature that is sharp and special enough that the world gets it—better yet, wants to get it. After two years, you could say Charlier's signature is dark and arty, precisely cut, and menswear influenced. But how does he elevate that handful of ingredients—which, after all, crop up everywhere—so his dish is the tastiest on the table? 
Snakes, that's how. 
The designer used a rippling debossed pattern to suggest a snake's slither, and he pleated leather to look like a scaly skin. Same with the paillettes he applied to a shift dress. 
"A deliberation on comfort, sensuality, and nonchalance" was his description of the collection. True, all three were embodied by the slouch of a blue pantsuit—by all the trousers, in fact. But otherwise there was a very un-snaky uncertainty about this show. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Stella Jean fall 2014 ready-to wear

Stella Jean has emerged as one of the most hot young talents the recent seasons.  Franca Sozzani of Vogue Italia can't get enough of her. And she has reasons to be, because Jean's collections are as unique as refreshing. 
If anything, this collection felt even more multilayered than her last. It being Fall, there were floor-scraping cardigan coats in bucolic intarsias and printed tights that matched the patterns on crinoline-lined skirts—along with natty tailoring in colorful tweeds and plaids that added an element of newness to a mix that leaned heavily on Jean's African wax prints. That said, the wax prints are her unique selling point. They were vibrant and gorgeous. 
As for the animals? They officially became a thing yesterday when Dolce & Gabbana put embroideries of squirrels, foxes, and owls on their runway. Jean's weren't just woodland creatures. She had impressively plumed roosters, what looked like an egret, and giant koi. We're on the fence about animals on clothing, but a quick post-show survey revealed that key retailers are sold on it.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dolce & Gabbana FALL 2014 READY-TO-WEAR

"Enchanted Sicily" was the title Dolce & Gabbana gave their collection, but what we saw was actually a timely departure from the overtly folkloric tone of the duo's recent collections. Here were ten of the all-black, widow's-weeds-y outfits that established Dolce & Gabbana's fashion signature three decades ago, but they were like breathing spaces in a fantastic riot of fairies, princesses, owls, foxes, squirrels, and swans. There was even a frog for a princess to kiss. All of them were rendered in charmingly naive appliqués. The owls on a blue brocade shift were a particularly memorable combination of ultra-cute and hyper-sophisticated. 

Sicily was still in the mix, but in the same way it featured in the men's collection in January. The island has been enough of a cross-cultural historical crossroads that you can basically pick an influence and run with it. For the men's show, it was the seven Norman kings who swept down from the North (very Lord of the Rings). Here, it was their female consorts who inspired the embroidery and gilding, the gothic appliqué, the studded balaclavas and gauntlets. Those antique invaders brought their myths and legends with them, and that, according to Gabbana, is when fairies arrived in Italy. The recurrent motif in the collection was the key that opened the door to a secret garden. 

For all the arcana of their inspiration, the clothes themselves managed to build a bridge to the real world, or at least a world real enough for a woman to wear an A-line tweed coat with a little appliqué, a skirt suit in deepest forest green, or even one of the beautiful Riding Hood capes. As a shortcut to escape while the world's weather patterns surrender to globally warmed insanity, they could scarcely be more apt. Of course, Domenico and Stefano couldn't leave it there. They marched a platoon of gothic Tinkerbells down the catwalk as a finale. Who doesn't need some fairy dust?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Prada fall 2014 ready-to-wear

A handout at the Prada presentation tonight equated a fashion show with a theatrical performance: characters, space, costumes, music, and lights creating an enveloping experience. The small, square invitation sealed the deal, summoning us to "Act 2," the first act being the men's show in January, for which Miuccia Prada claimed inspiration from Germany's cultural avant-garde, in particular choreographer Pina Bausch, artist Joseph Beuys, and director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Then, the set was a stark alternative-performance space à la Bausch, encased in felt à la Beuys, and the collection's impact was low-key and obtuse. Now, just over a month later, the set remained exactly the same, but Miuccia had honed the inspiration, focusing on Fassbinder, watching all his movies to the point where she was prepared to announce that she had drawn directly from the costumes in his 1972 film The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. "Your culture is done by your past," she said. "History is there for a reason." 

Miuccia and Fassbinder, who died in 1982, were more or less of the same generation and were shaped by the same social and political forces, so it was easy to see the appeal of the director for the designer. "His humanity, his love of culture, his love of telling a story," she enthused. "I had so much fun watching all those movies. They gave me a relationship with something less fancy, more dark." That clarified her new collection's obsession with shearling. "The opposite of rich," Miuccia called it, even though, given the volumes and extravagant shades she used, it was anything but poor. She laid it over sheer dresses, the tough and the delicate together, a longtime Prada obsession. 
But there was another facet of Fassbinder's creativity that infiltrated this Prada collection to great effect. Petra von Kant connected Miuccia with an old Cecil B. DeMille version of Cleopatra, starring Claudette Colbert, which she became convinced had been a huge influence on Fassbinder. And that got her thinking about the continuities of creativity that run through culture (DeMille begetting Fassbinder begetting Almodóvar, for instance). Staying in tune with the German avant-garde subtext for a minute, the strong 1920s/1930s strand in Miuccia's new designs—the slink of sheer shifts, the Art Deco prints, the Deco-influenced silver tracery, the chevron necklines, the Metropolis wedge heels—evoked the Weimar era, where avant-gardism exploded over ground. Dietrich's Lola in The Blue Angel was an icon of Weimar. Fassbinder updated her in his own 1982 movie, Lola. Tonight Barbara Sukowa, the star of that film, was performing live with strings, wind instruments, and the soundscapes of Frederic Sanchez. What was she singing? The songs of Kurt Weill, the genius composer of Weimar. 
The perfect circularity of the whole presentation was an exact embodiment of Miuccia's own fascination with the way that ideas roll forward through the ages, finding new life and new modes of expression. Clothes as ambassadors for ideas? That is more than enough to be going on with as you flick through the racks in a Prada store next fall.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Peter Pilotto fall 2014 ready-to-wear

Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos are known for their saturated colors and prints, and the duo didn’t stint on either front for fall — even throwing embellishment into the mix.
Their silhouettes nodded to the sporty, including a burgundy funnel-neck sweater-and-skirt combo stitched with blue-and-white bugle beads and edged in purple sheepskin fur, as well as a pink high-necked minidress glistening with fragments of mother of pearl in shades of blue, red and pink. 
Color-drenched prints ran from purple-and-orange mountain motifs on a fit-andflare dress to a red-and-green repeat print of athletes on a cloque halterneck gown. The duo’s expert constructions stood out — particularly on the series of tailored wool dresses — but the relentlessly bright made the collection feel one-note. Those loud motifs seemed to work best when knit into ribbed ski sweaters, voluminous coats and pencil skirts for a gentler effect.

Roksanda Ilincic fall ready-to-wear 2014

Roksanda Ilincic's polished collection with an arte povera feel was filled with patchworks, humble materials, and a jumble of contrasting colors. Long, sculptural dresses and skirts were made from cinnamon felted wool inset with dark blue or burgundy panels, while orange neon flashed from under bright blue dresses. Mannish coats had a thick chevron pattern in alternating shades of dark blue and black, while furs were a glorious grid of clashing colors and textures: Shearling, fox, lamb’s wool and mink dyed in rich primary colors.
Embellishments, meanwhile, resembled broken bits of Lego and plastic baubles spilling down the front of brightly colored dresses. Ilincic said that among her inspirations was the basic architecture of places like Africa and Brazil, and that she used a collage of fabric, rubber and plastic leftovers for the collection. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mary Katrantzou fall 2014 ready-to-wear

Synonymous with bold, digitally generated prints, Mary Katrantzou turned off her computer this season to explore different ways of decorating clothes, primarily via lace, brocades, pleats and chainmail. It yielded an intriguing collection that was more approachable and luxurious than ever.
Along with road signs, badges and crests — corporate symbols of belonging – were a particular fixation. Katrantzou lined them up to create very unconventional Guipure, which she cut into sweatshirts as well as minidresses and evening gowns. They were surprisingly fetching. Crystal-flecked badges also assembled in dense, overly busy formations on the front of mink sweatshirts or long, narrow-sleeved gowns that had a whiff of recent Valentino.
Amidst all that dense decoration, some of the plainest clothes were the most striking, including lean wool topcoats, long skirts in color-blocked knife pleats and chainmail dresses, draped on the bias.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Marc Jacobs fall 2014 ready-to-wear

The show Jacobs staged on Thursday night was his first since the ending of his tenure at Louis Vuitton.  It was beautiful — chic, unfettered and, typical of Jacobs, a reversal of last season’s dark, highly embellished Victorian melodrama. Light in color, soft to the touch. 

Spareness ruled in side-slit dresses and tunic-and-pants pairings that strode the Sixties. These came in blocks of soft hues — ivories, pinks, peaches, taupes, browns — with interesting curved seaming. Jacobs worked in racy, lean ribbed-knit tunics over matching stovepipe pants and cozied up the calm with amazing mink bombers in soft degradés of color. The mood grew bolder with higher-contrast short dresses and over-the-knee boots that had, despite the stated sartorial platform of nonaggression, a hint of she-warrior.
Still, Jacobs preferred calm over conflict. After a brief moment of crystal pizazz, evening turned lyrical with some dresses crafted from gentle organza tiers and others hand-painted in deft imitation. Either way, they were exquisite.
As for the bags, they were mostly classic, IPO-friendly shapes in ultraluxurious suede, box calf, ostrich, shirred mink, python. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Proenza Schouler fall 2014 ready-to-wear

Engaging in a game of verbal free-association to gauge their mood for fall, Jack McColloughand Lazaro Hernandez came up with words including “Energy,” “Abstraction,” “Humor,” “Color,” “Instinct,” “Spontaneous.”  The collection was all those things, plus a lot more, since clothes are not actually made of fun. The spree of frenetic colors and patterns the designers unleashed was a product of fertile imagination and incredible technical skill.
Hernandez and McCollough are fabric-focused, always pushing and testing. Graphic combinations of black paired with orange, purple, turquoise, crimson and pink converged in patterns reminiscent of vinyl records and the Flintstones. These came mashed up on sporty separates and single garments, such as precise patchworks of leather and crepe on dresses. 
There were also technical lace and flock prints embroidered with bugle beads. A wool jacquard coat that looked nothing like wool jacquard opened the show. Woven in a mini pattern that brought to mind television static, from afar it appeared to be some kind of bonded print. The fabric finish was flat, matte, almost scubalike and accentuated by architectural curves: a nipped waist and sleeves that were big at the shoulder tapered toward the wrist.  A deliberate departure from the calm of the designers' past two seasons, the clothes still fell well within their stylistic jurisdiction. The modernist hourglass shape of a short, cobalt blue crepe skirt suit and a bouclé peplum top in an aqua-and-black scribble pattern related to their black-and-white study in chic from fall 2013. And the finale dress, a curvy bra-top cut out under the bust with a flared skirt, circled back to the metallic bustiers of their first collection. The word that rushed to mind at the end of the show is one that at this point is almost synonymous with Proenza Schouler: “cool.”

Monday, February 10, 2014

Delpozo ready-to-wear fall 2014

The collection I was waiting the most to see during NYFW was Delpozo. A recently new face in the fashion world, but with his last collection has caught the attention of fashionistas from all over the world by storm. And it didn't disappoint me. 
The colors of Italian artist Duilio Barnabé’s paintings and the retro-futuristic atmosphere of “Logan’s Run” merged to inspire Josep Font’s beautiful fall collection for Madrid-based Delpozo.

The lineup touched different notes, from feminine and ethereal to severe and powerful. The contrasting moods were unified under a strong couture sensibility, a distinguishing feature of Font’s ready-to-wear efforts.
His collection opened with overcoats, dresses and separates in sculpted A-line silhouettes. These included a beige maxi cape with pointed shoulders and a brown zip jacket with a petal-like maxi collar embroidered with a floral motif, worn over a flared mini-skirt.
Then, the clothes became softer with mohair sweaters and pretty organza and chiffon styles, such as a pleated evening shirtdress (complete with train), embroidered with crystals and sequins in floral shapes.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda spring/summer 2014

Floral fantasy at Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda spring/summer 2014
The impressive salons had been transformed into a nineteenth-century rose garden, with pergola frames and arbors twined with soft pink and mauve roses and greenery. The girls wafted through this poetic garden, with silk flowers of course as topknots in their Ingres hairstyles—like figures in an Impressionist painting.
 The Dolce & Gabbana  duo has developed real atelier art pieces—elaborate and playful patchworks of textile and embroidery used to create delightfully naïf “flowers in a vase” pictures. Meanwhile the superb cutwork lace effects, cut out of stiff silks and then laboriously hand-stitched, remain another house signature, in tea rose, beige, and jet black.
There was even an hourglass minidress of purple velvet-covered wire clustered with posies of violets. And then there were Persian lamb suits, in idiosyncratic colors like chrome yellow, prune, and mushroom gray, with double golden sable collars.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Armani Prive Spring 2014 Couture

Anyone knows that Giorgio Armani’s best eveningwear is masterful — refined, interesting and, most importantly, celebratory of a woman’s beauty. With the Armani Privé collection that mastery was in full force.
Called Nomade, it encompassed strains of the exotica he loves.  He described the collection as a "mélange of things — not typically Indian or African or European. She moves with an Armani spirit in her head."

Of course, that Armani spirit has men’s wear roots, which have impacted the designer’s women’s aesthetic from the start. Here, he flaunted the connection by day, transforming necktie foulards and stripes into statement daywear, typically small jackets over voluminous skirts and pants. The prevailing sober-toned shine and numerous arabesque embellishments suggested nonspecific Eastern influences. 

Not so with the magnificent eveningwear. Armani delivered options of look and mood — the elegance of a tailored jacket over pants; the danger of a glittering mesh shawl over transparent blouse and plissé skirt. But it was his gowns that captivated most. Obviously, Armani was thinking Oscars, and why not? He turned that too-often mundane classic, the strapless ball gown, memorable many times over, layering crystal-embroidered crinolines and laces over rich silks — jacquard, gazar, organza — often in mesmerizing shades of deep blue. Always he varied the line and details to make each dress unique — just as couture should be.

Valentino Spring 2014 Couture

Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have developed into couture’s most unabashed romantics. 
For the Valentino collection their starting point was opera. Chiuri and Piccioli opened with a literal nod to their musical muse — a wisp of a tulle gown, its skirt embroidered for graphic pop with a section of the “La Traviata” score. This had a surrealist vibe, at once enchanting and wacky. Yet that charmer proved one note, as the designers moved on to other flights of fancy. 

In line with their platform of individuality, the duo showed variety of shapes — ethereal ballgowns, airy golden lace caftan, thicker blue-and-brown lace sheath. One gown featured a Lucas Cranach-inspired pictorial of Adam and Eve before the fall, reveling in the glories of nature.

Such distinctive pieces didn’t negate significant themes. Richard Wagner’s “Lohengrin” inspired the first of several ballerinas, this one pale and wrapped swanlike in feathers. Another theme — jungle! Here, the designers proved their bravado with bold, verdant imagery starring giant cheetahs and lions. 
While some, including a pair of cashmere coats, were amazing, a silk lion-face dress looked like a head shot of Disney’s Simba. And so as not to ignore women with simpler tastes, Chiuri and Piccioli included inviting, monastic simplicity for day and evening. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Elie Saab Couture Spring 2014

In his spring couture collection, Elie Saab showering a cascade of fabric petals on evening gowns inspired by the painting “The Roses of Heliogabalus” by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Rendered in several layers of silk chiffon, the blossoms took on a soft-focus quality on a powder-pink Empire-line dress with sheer long sleeves. They appeared to sprout three-dimensionally from a hydrangea-blue bustier gown with an ample skirt.
The painterly effects were most striking on a trio of gazar dresses with a multicolored floral print that gradually faded into white.
Dresses with extra voluminous skirts were guaranteed to make an entrance, but Saab knows how to engineer an exit, too. His Grecian-pleated gowns, in alluring shades of pale blue, yellow and coral, wafted long strips of chiffon in their wake.  
In a season where many designers are giving couture a youthful spin, Saab clung to a more traditional approach to the craft. Yet he displayed a light hand with creations such as a poppy-colored Fifties-style tulle cocktail dress. Who can argue with tradition when the result is this enchanting?

Giambattista Valli Spring 2014 couture show

Gleaming metallic shards stacked on the runway for Giambattista Valli’s sixth couture show signaled a more modernist direction, in keeping with an emerging mood this high-fashion week.
The Italian designer went mainly short, sharp and sculptural.
Building on a base of ivory brocades, Valli gave each minidress an individual character by color blocking with fabrics or strategically placed panels of embroidery. He drew additional attention to the hips by wrapping and twisting contrasting silks and rich brocades around them. Alternatively, he miniaturized his fetish fishtail gowns to create a host of short-yet-sloping hemlines.

Valli kept his treasured floral and botanical motifs, but rendered them in more artificial ways: blurring them, recoloring them in neon shades or obscuring them with geometric embroideries. While the allure was sometimes reminiscent of Raf Simons’ first collections for Dior, the combinations of texture and tone were often striking. Ruby crystals looked terrific nestled around the neckline of a soft pink satin bodice, yet Yves Klein blue cherry blossoms were borderline jarring on a hot pink gown.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Chanel Spring 2014 Couture

Karl Lagerfeld conceived the space in which he presented his Chanel couture show on Tuesday morning as “a futuristic nightclub” and not, he stressed, a “disco. That’s démodé.”
 He pulled off an ingenious fusion of serene and sporty, one swathed in otherworldly iridescence while shod in sneakers (albeit made by the specialty atelier Massaro, and elevated by applications of lace, tulle or beading). Every girl wore them, the better to skip merrily down those stairs, no matter how gussied up her look.
The collection was hyper-focused yet diverse. One major theme was the intense corsetry exposed between cropped jackets and belled skirts as well as breathe-freely waistless looks as different as divine diva gowns and a sheer T-shirt-and-bicycle shorts ensemble.
Such touches of overt sportif (that also included knee and elbow pads) integrated within a glorious lineup. Holding it all together: exquisite fabrics embroidered or hand-loomed and aglow with iridescent, transparent, holographic effects. Mesmerizing — yes. But practical, too, in that haute kind of way, a point driven home by thefootwear. Because Lagerfeld is nothing if not grounded.

Ulyana Sergeenko Spring 2014 couture

Ulyana Sergeenko said her couture collection was inspired by a train trip, but the journey ended up taking her to that most intimate of destinations: the boudoir.
The Russian designer loosened her famously buttoned-up collar with dishabille looks that contrasted hourglass corsets, some peeling open at the back, with slinky negligees.
Sweetheart-neckline corsets punctuated the lineup, raising the heat on a pair of chic powder-pink wide-legged pants and serving as the basis for everything from a frothy ivory cocktail dress with a lamp-shade skirt to curvy evening gowns in jewel-colored satin.
Though she cited Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan as the destinations for her imaginary travels, Sergeenko worked with chinoiserie accents such as embroidered blossoms on a scarlet silk jumpsuit. Beaded fringe swung from the capelet back of a midnight-blue, dressing gown-inspired evening dress. Billowing quilted skirts looked as snuggly as comforters, while a satin ballgown skirt had an almost-casual feel when worn open over striped silk pajama pants.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Christian Dior spring 2014 couture

Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week is taking over the French capital as the industry's luxe labels showcase their lavish crafts across 5 days.
Raf Simons is a modernist at heart.He described this show as honoring the connection between the women who make the clothes, the gifted artisans of the Dior atelier, and the women for whom they work, the clients. He sees that connection as one of intimacy, here expressed in a mood of graceful calm. 

 Simons eschewed his inspirations’ typical structure for softness, cutting light fabrics in clean, breezy shapes. His primary decorative motif: repetitive patterns — circle, eye, heart — embroidered onto the fabric, half of each shape cut out and often sewn with jewels for a 3-D effect.
The tone-on-tone graphics in white, black and navy looked lovely, and particularly fresh in white. Cases in point: the show opener, an asymmetric A-line affair that countered circles on top with horizontal pleats on the bottom; a strapless wisp of a dress done up with feathers and a half-hem flounce.  As a change of pace, Simons made a case for chic tailored jumpsuits and matching trouser-and-top ensembles. 
Though much of the collection played beautifully into the concept of haute reality, it was not without difficulty. That’s because Simons hedged his bets. While an embroidered blue-and-white party dress with off-kilter half-apron read as genuine, other dresses featured retro appendages — overlays, poufs, peplums — that felt antithetical to Simons’ primary message.