This was not a typical fashion show. Versus effectively relaunched itself tonight, and in spectacular style: Donatella Versace threw a proper soiree, live-streamed to the Internet masses, with catwalking interspersed with live performances by the likes of Angel Haze and Grimes. And the clothes? They could be purchased online, to be delivered pretty much straight off the runway. The future of fashion has arrived, in other words. And it is black and white and vinyl.
Versace chose to show only a small group of the Versus “core” collection tonight; the emphasis was on zebra-striped club-kid looks in vinyl, for both girls and boys, and pieces that deployed signature Versus hardware, such as oversize safety pins. Online shoppers, meanwhile, would find the runway collection elaborated by studded leathers, op-art-patterned jeans, and pieces in a bold belt print, one of which was modeled by Haze during her performance. Shoppers would also find that the prices of these items were relatively non-shocking—a belt-print tee, for instance, retailed for $ 195.
As fashion goes, these clothes weren’t life-changing. It was easy to imagine various of the women’s pieces being go-tos for girls’ nights out on the town, which was entirely the point; the menswear, on the other hand, would appeal to a more daring customer. But that guy exists. All in all, this collection, and the hoopla surrounding it, seemed very tapped in to the Versus DNA; back in the nineties, Donatella Versace launched Versus as the younger, clubbier sister brand of Versace, and that spirit was resurrected here.
When it was announced a few months ago that Jonathan Anderson would be designing a capsule collection for Versus, the natural reaction was befuddlement. It was hard to imagine two brands with more opposed aesthetics: Whereas Donatella Versace’s Versus signature was exuberantly sexy, where’s-the-party-at clothes, J.W. Anderson traffics in a look that’s sculptural, irony-laced, and cool, as in cold. Anderson is also, and not incidentally, a big believer in androgynous clothes. Suffice it to say, that’s never been Donatella’s shtick.
And thus it was a genuine surprise, at tonight’s extravaganza launching the collab, which featured performances by Maxwell, Grimes, and the rapper Angel Haze, to see how much these brands had to say to each other. Speaking backstage before the event, Versace and Anderson talked of their work together as an ongoing dialogue; Anderson, for his part, pointed out that Versace pushed him to create sexier, more womanly shapes, while Versace noted that Anderson was very “loyal” to the Versus codes. That made the dialogue sound rather one-sided. But on the runway, Anderson’s point of view somewhat carried the day. People familiar with his oeuvre had no trouble spotting Anderson in the very cool trousers with slashed, peekaboo waistbands, or in the band fastening of an asymmetrical blazer, or in the bright, apron-style knits shown with or without accenting sprays of black lace. The fact that all the aforementioned pieces were shown for both men and women, without much adaptation, was also irreducibly Andersonian.
The vibe, though, felt very Versus. Anderson’s connection to the brand’s nineties-ness is genuine, and his reinterpretation felt very grounded in the attitude of that era. He also seemed to have tapped in to his inner club kid: If Anderson’s own Fall ’13 collection had a medicated air, these clothes conjured a different kind of pilled-up aura. Rave night at the sanatorium, what an idea.
Chanel is on vacation. It’s part of the definition of its Cruise line, right there in the name. So Karl Lagerfeld led his legions to Singapore. It’s boiling here, 100 degrees in the shade, but that’s not to suggest Lagerfeld has slowed down a bit. On the contrary, he showed a collection—collection, he clarified, not pre-collection—as vast and various as any of his other ready-to-wear bounties. This one, though, in the spirit of Cruise, had a holidaying pluck. There was a fifties-inflected soundtrack, with snatches of Elvis and Yma Sumac courtesy of Michel Gaubert, and a bouncy ease to the key new silhouette of high-waisted, wide-leg trousers worn with what were essentially oversize T-shirts—though rendered, in appropriately luxe fashion, from white leather and tulle.
That half step toward laddishness—the pearl-trimmed sort championed by the young Coco Chanel, with her menswear fabrics and her suiting, her boys’ tailoring inspired by Boy’s tailoring—gave the collection its sprightly freshness. After the dark glamour of Fall, with its seductive, witchy toughness, this was a lark. But a summary doesn’t give Chanel’s craftsmanship its due: the oceans of beaded embroidery, the slick flash of latex-gilded lace, the pitch-black lacquer on Cara Delevingne’s plumed cape and skirt. Even Lagerfeld seemed struck by some of the feats. “I have a girl who works with me,” he said, “the genius behind all the Chanel materials…. I can tell you, she tortures the manufacturers. She is a tough cookie.” So says the toughest.
The question remained: Why Singapore? The label has six stores here, and many were quick to sniff out a play for the Asian market. But Lagerfeld only shrugged and suggested, in effect, that he’d been just about everywhere else. He’d taken inspiration from some elements of Singaporean culture—most notably, the traditional black-and-white woven curtains that adorn the island’s homes, which hung around the palatial venue and lent the collection its graphic palette—but further than that, Lagerfeld insisted his Singapore was a dream Singapore. He hadn’t researched, not really. “I research with instinct, you see. It has to be a vague impression, but don’t get into the details. Reinvent the details.”
But some details are too uncanny to invent. He had come across a photo of a Singaporean fisherman from 1880. “The top,” he said, “it’s a white jacket, black braids, and four pockets. It’s unbelievable. This man has a Chanel jacket.” Coco avant la lettre.
To produce Bottega Veneta‘s new Cruise shoes—loafers with woven-raffia uppers, brogues with raffia insets, and raffia kitten heels with leather cap toes—Tomas Maier commissioned artisans in Morocco. “We tried to do it in Italy, but…” he threw up his hands, indicating that even the skilled factories in BV’s native country didn’t know the right techniques in this particular case. To get the raffia supple enough to weave, Maier continued, it must be bathed in oil and water first. “I like being able to display that kind of know-how.”
It’s a detail worth bringing up not only because the shoes are truly fabulous but also because it illuminates the entire Bottega Veneta collection, which once more puts the emphasis on craft. Cotton poplin dresses are embroidered with raw swatches of St. Gallen lace and then block-printed, while A-line frocks are embroidered with fringe, then veiled in a sheer black material, which is further embellished with macramé and swags of silver chain. The real marvel, though, is that the results look so effortless, so exactly like what you want to wear when the weather turns hot. A pair of solid stretch-cotton dresses with only big floppy bows for adornment looked simpler in their execution, but still special.
This season’s handbag additions include ombré-dyed, soft-construction goatskin city totes and smaller Intrecciato-style bags with hand-painted edges. “No two bags are the same,” Maier said. “The client appreciates that.” Innovation seems to be the Maier way. Next month he’ll unveil a Bottega Veneta shop on Melrose Place in L.A. with an entirely new store concept; it’ll be built to resemble nothing more so than a home.
Los Angeles designer Jasmin Shokrian launched Draft No. 17, a line focused on reinterpreting her signature sculptural silhouettes at a lower price point, back in 2009. At a presentation of the new Fall range, the designer explained that while Draft is commercially viable, she misses working with luxurious textured fabrics and intricate handcrafted details. As a result, she’s decided to elevate the quality and construction of the diffusion collection. It paid off: The clothes may wind up being pricier, but their special feel will speak to her customers.
Shokrian’s intention was “to create clothes that meet at the intersection of order and chaos.” Those contradictory concepts harmonized in pieces like midi skirts that merged sturdy canvas with soft pleats, as well as cape-sleeve jackets that were simultaneously tailored and cocoon-shaped. Shokrian breathed new life into hallmarks such as judo pants, kimono dresses, and circular blouses, which had a stricter sensibility this time around. Outerwear was a surprising highlight. The boyish double-breasted peacoat and a petal-pink cashmere vest that stood away from the body and tapered all the way down were particular standouts.
Getting a jump on the Resort season, Diesel Black Gold‘s Andreas Melbostad was in New York this week, showing off his second collection for the brand. Studded with leather biker jackets, it’s a continuation of his confident, cool February outing, but with a somewhat gentler feel. The look is influenced by workwear—Melbostad mentioned painters, plaster workers, and even firemen, and, in keeping with those influences, coated denim with a white dust or added oversize metal toggles to jackets. Still, the results seemed subtler here. Chalk that up to several things, among them the prevalence of white and ivory (counterpointed, of course, with plenty of black), his use of silk on a couple of short, breezy dresses, and an absence of the kind of hardware that gave his earlier clothes such a tough-girl feel.
The collection’s black-and-white print was designed, Melbostad said, to resemble an “aggressive bandanna.” As graphic as the printed jeans, T-shirts, and paneled sweaters looked, they were the least persuasive, mostly because they looked somewhat familiar. A hybridized tuxedo jacket combining silk twill and denim played to the brand’s strengths, and the designer’s. Other likely hits: denim separates that combined three different washes, and a fitted, almost strict indigo utility jacket. More of a surprise was a chunky fisherman sweater that gave off an almost preppy vibe. That was something new from Melbostad. Alluding to his upcoming show in September, he promised he’ll be expanding the Black Gold vocabulary even further.
We’re posting runway pictures from Fashion Week Australia. See the full list of designers here. To read our daily reports on the collections, visit our Style File blog. And don’t miss our street-style coverage.