Jean Paul Gaultier

August 3, 2012 by  
Filed under Fashion News

There’s little doubt that posterity will recognize Jean Paul Gaultier as one of the all-time greats, but it will also have to recognize the profligacy of his genius, the carelessness with mere bagatelles like timekeeping (the 90-minute wait today bordered on those interminable delays that were a signature of the house 20 years ago), the way the extravagantly throwaway has always shared catwalk space with fiercely disciplined, beautifully crafted clothes. Haute couture has indulged both those impulses to an extreme for the designer, so the pendulum swing of consensus on his couture is unsurprisingly determined by which impulse dominates. Today, mercifully, it was discipline and craft.

That’s probably what happens when you have a presiding spirit as wayward as Pete Doherty, the voice on the soundtrack, the star of Sylvie Verheyde’s adaptation of nineteenth century poet Alfred de Musset’s Confession of a Child of the Century, which was the spark of the collection. Once you’d ascertained (thank you, Wiki!) that de Musset’s grand amour was the novelist George Sand, who scandalized mid-nineteenth century Paris by wearing men’s clothes and smoking in public, Gaultier’s collection slotted with the greatest of ease into his series of salutes to everything that has ever made Paris so justifiably full of itself. Erin O’Connor opened the show as Sand, in top hat, tailcoat, and gentleman’s fob. She was followed by a set of Gaultier’s peerless meditations on Le Smoking, including a silhouette that quoted Dior’s Bar silhouette. It was never a secret that Gaultier would have been a logical candidate for the top job at Dior when Galliano got the gig. This season, when Dior is once again the big story with the Simons ascendancy, there was a certain poignancy in such reminders of that long-ago dream.

But Gaultier went on to prove how he owns his decadent, romantic, polymorphous fashion sensibility. Sand’s tailcoat came back time and again, in crocodile, in camel, in the “male couture” that Gaultier inserted with a wincing lack of subtlety, and in the bridal finale, where the tails were splayed across a white skirt in front while the lapels were extended into swan’s wings in back. The designer also paraded silken kimono-styled eveningwear that conveyed the fin de siècle feel of outfits named after characters from Proust, Huysmans, and Wilde. The colors—absinthe, coral, gold, papal purple—were the colors of opium dreams. Gaultier amplified the Beaux Arts mood by including a couple of articulated automatons. They could have been the robot from Metropolis. Or maybe they were sisters of the Georges Méliès creation that featured in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. Better that way—Gaultier’s collections are always a love song to Paris.
—Tim Blanks
Runway Feed

Maison Martin Margiela

August 2, 2012 by  
Filed under Fashion News

Raf Simons’ presence in the front row at Maison Martin Margiela‘s first couture week runway show caused a stir. One editor wondered aloud if it meant that the mystery man himself, a friend of Simons’, had returned to the label that bears his name. That’s not likely, but this 15-look “Artisanal” collection, as the house calls it, was founded on one of Margiela’s signature fixations: reclaiming vintage clothes, accessories, and other objects (remember his household furniture show from Fall 2006?) and reworking them by hand into new pieces.

The raw cotton sleeveless jacket that opened the show was modeled after a 1905 tailcoat, its closure a crystal doorknob found in New York City. An antique silk gown beaded in an Art Nouveau motif was transformed into a long, quilted bomber jacket. And a bolero and vest constructed from vintage baseball gloves and a coat made from a windsurfing sail added a surreal touch.

The focus was on the upper half of the body. For the lower half, the design team sourced lace from all over France to make simple straight-leg trousers that acted as a canvas for the action above. The models went incognito behind masks (another old Margiela trope) embroidered with hundreds of crystals. There was no shortage of beads or lace either, but nonetheless the presentation acted as an avant-garde (and eco-friendlier) antidote to the shows that preceded it this week. A welcome addition to the couture schedule.
—Nicole Phelps
Runway Feed

BLK DNM

August 1, 2012 by  
Filed under Fashion News

BLK DNM, Johan Lindeberg insists, operates apart from the constant wax and wane of fashion trends and fashion seasons. “BLK DNM is a manifesto of everything I’ve done in my life,” he said, pointing at a tuxedo-gone-casual look. “This look, I’ve done since 1997″—then under the auspices of J. Lindeberg, his namesake former label, and then in Milan, not New York—”and I still love it.”

Lindeberg likes to say that BLK DNM is about three things: tailoring, leather, and denim. So, check, check, check. The now-classic motorcycle jacket he’s tweaked to his own specs continues to fly out the door. So do the jeans, in umpteen washes and a variety of cuts. And the tailoring—”the best tailoring I’ve done in my career,” he says—is a bargain at $ 495 to $ 695 for jackets.

“Timeless” isn’t quite the right word, but there is a sense that you’ve seen these clothes before. Lindeberg, you have to imagine, wouldn’t object to that. “H&M and Ikea are born in my home country,” he says. “In a small country, it’s value for money.” BLK DNM is that, and the world is catching on. GQ named him one of its Best New Menswear Designers in America this year. “New” is a misnomer, of course. But a moto jacket and an elongated bomber in a slick, slippery Japanese satin suggests he’s still got tricks up his sleeve.
—Matthew Schneier
Runway Feed

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