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.