Philipp Plein

July 30, 2014 by  
Filed under Fashion News

There was no Rita Ora emerging out of a burning car or Theophilus London
atop a Jet Ski, but at a recent showroom presentation of Philipp Plein‘s
Resort ’15 offering, what was lacking in pageantry was counterbalanced by
the designer’s more-is-more credo in full force. Pop Art irreverence got
a big nod here: Pair upon pair of Lichtenstein-esque crimson lips studded
pieces from jeans to jackets to gowns. “Drunk in Love” and “J’Adore
Plein!” they cried through speech bubbles. Those pouts were mostly
crafted in crystal; it seems likely that Swarovski also “adores Plein,”
who could perhaps single-handedly keep the Austrian brand in the black
with his love of all things encrusted. Here that included velour neon
tracksuits embellished with his signature skull. Elsewhere the designer
served up pieces with a bubblegum punk flair, like generous zipper
accents alongside a flouncy mini, acid-hued leather bolos, and fitted
moto jackets with ample cutouts on the sleeves. This delivery is poised
to hit stores not long after Plein’s first New York boutique bows on
Madison Avenue in September; only time will tell if these pieces resonate
as lucratively with Manhattanites as they do Muscovites and Miamians.
—Kristin Anderson
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Balmain

July 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Fashion News

Olivier Rousteing found a recent trip to Los Angeles endlessly inspiring. Not necessarily the landscape or the architecture, both of which are gorgeous enough, but the people and what he described as their generosity and playfulness. In L.A., he said, “they embrace fashion, not like in Paris, where they’re in fashion, so they run away from it.” Rousteing used the experience as a jumping-off point for his Resort collection, which blended the globalism of his Fall show for Balmain with a seventies vibe.

The season’s key item was the poncho, the outerwear of choice for all things wild and free. Rousteing’s came lavishly beaded in Native American motifs, or more low-key in sweatshirt fleece. If embracing different cultures and mixing ethnicities are important messages for the designer, diversifying the price point is essential for the company. That’s one reason you’ll find a big emphasis here on knits. Especially fab were a pair of graphic
black-and-white chevron-stripe high-waisted flares worn with a snug sleeveless shell. Stretchy knit lace separates were as body-con as anything Rousteing has done, but more covered up.

Discretion will never be the Balmain way, but hemlines are getting longer, and Rousteing seems genuinely jazzed about the prospect of his gals wearing their leather slipdresses over leather pants. It remains to be seen if they’ll go along for the ride, but it was satisfying to see the designer confidently stretching the boundaries of the brand.
—Nicole Phelps
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Jay Ahr

July 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Fashion News

Jay Ahr designer Jonathan Riss yearned for more fluidity this season, marking a departure of sorts from his recent exploration of form. While he didn’t abandon the now-signature Jay Ahr flounced “kick” skirt—never forsake a retail favorite—you could see how he had collapsed his silhouettes, drawing out a wearable ease that jibed nicely with a pre-collection offering. The label has closed the chapter on the zipper detailing that defined several previous seasons; in its place, a perforation technique of micro “lozenges” punched into sturdy canvas. Sometimes the motif disappeared into stripes; other times it was embellished by flat metal studs. Most often, it came backed in black tulle, which did double duty as structural and tonal reinforcement. That recalled Italian modern artist Lucio Fontana’s trick of adding depth to his slashed canvases, and Riss acknowledged that the granddaddy of spatialism is an ongoing inspiration.

Azzedine Alaïa appeared as a more literal reference, particularly in the leather latticework pants or the dotted pattern in relief across slouchy tops. At one point, Riss referred to the designer as a “master” while distancing himself from his work by touting Jay Ahr’s effortless sensibility. His glazed knits paired with cascading, higher-waisted skirts confirmed as much, and he also managed to make his asymmetric hemlines look uncontrived. Overall, the new fluidity led to more finesse, and the collection’s focus—from the repetition of just a few fabrics to the monochromatic palette accented by a Fontana-esque rose and cobalt blue—suggests that Riss increasingly realizes the impact of restraint.
—Amy Verner
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Ostwald Helgason

July 27, 2014 by  
Filed under Fashion News

Our review will be posted shortly. See the complete collection by clicking the image at left.
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Christian Dior

July 26, 2014 by  
Filed under Fashion News

Raf Simons is not a designer obsessed with the past. He leaves the
decade-hopping to his peers, preferring instead to look ahead. And yet his latest Couture collection for Dior—his most completely realized to date, as beautiful as his debut of two years ago, if not as audacious as his
continent-spanning collection from last July—found him looking back. Not at one specific era, but rather at many. Simons was curious, the program notes explained, about the way different time periods informed and influenced subsequent ones. And more than that, he said afterward, he found himself thinking about Christian Dior’s fascination with the Belle Époque and asking himself, “If I had been [working] at that time, what would be my interest, conceptually or technically or architecturally? What would I be excited about?”

The show was divided into eight groups, hopping not decades but centuries—for example, from the Marie Antoinette-inspired pannier silhouettes of the opening to astronauts’ jumpsuits, back to embroidered court jackets and forward again to twenties volumes. Models from each grouping emerged onto the circular set, a launching pad like something out of a sci-fi flick, with curved walls covered in orchids by the thousands. They circulated there to the sounds of Sonic Youth, exposing the clothes from all angles and letting the intricacies and, at other times, the purity of the construction sink in.

Simons’ real feat was just how modern it all looked despite its historicism. He achieved that through lightness. You got the sense that the silk jacquard 18th-century dresses were every bit as weightless as the parachute-fabric flight suits. There was relatively little embellishment on those dresses; the sumptuous, shimmery materials and the voluptuous forms were the story. His flapperish dresses, meanwhile, were dripping not in heavy beads but in high-tech resin fringe.

The other thing that keeps Simons out ahead is his assertion that Couture need not be for special occasions. True luxury is spending five or six figures and wearing something not once or twice, but incorporating it into your daily wardrobe. Sweeping, long-line coats (Edwardian) and the familiar bar jacket (1950s), made unfamiliar with exaggerated shawl collars, will prove tempting to clients. Exquisitely detailed court coats and court jackets (in wool, velvet, even astrakhan) were equally believable as everyday wear, paired with classic knits and trousers. If the finale
dresses—outwardly simple, though, in fact, rather
complex—didn’t quite take off, it was only because of the power of what came before.
—Nicole Phelps
Runway Feed

Giambattista Valli

July 25, 2014 by  
Filed under Fashion News

Nothing said “new Couture customer” like Giambattista Valli‘s collection tonight. Imagine the Alhambra Gardens. A girl wakes, maybe she’s still dressed from the night before, maybe she swathes herself in a striped sheet or slips into her beau’s pj’s. It’s bright so she puts on sunglasses. Her head hurts. She wraps it in a napkin from the champagne bucket. And she goes for a walk in the garden. There’s a dry, warm wind, blossoms are blowing, they cloud her…

A pretty picture, and Valli did it justice on his catwalk. He visited the gardens years ago and filed the memory away for access at the right moment. It was the eclecticism of the Alhambra that appealed to him, the mix of Moorish and Spanish. That mix was entirely sublimated here, but there was still a feeling for the heat of the gardens, for the richness of the flowers, and even, at the end, a monochrome catholic strictness as a kind of cleanser before a finale of skirts fluffed into an extravaganza of feathery tulle. “They’ll be the best-seller,” Valli announced confidently, because they would lend themselves so well to weddings.

“The secret of my girls is that they’re always eccentric,” he said before his show. “They don’t play it. They are.” So you could say that there was eccentricity in a skirt in pink fluoro lace laid over a striped body. But the strength of this lineup was that Valli didn’t, for once, actually cater to that waywardness. Skirts were pencil thin and below the knee, and right away that gave the collection a long, elegant, grown-up line. They were paired with crop tops, tanks, or a capelet situation that Valli liked. In the case of the full-skirted frenzy of the finale, he used tiny piped pajama tops as a counterpoint.

There was something old Hollywood about such a look, an impression Valli effortlessly compounded with dresses in a wisteria-printed mousseline that begged for Norma Shearer. Hardly the apogee of a “new” Couture customer, but entirely emblematic of an aspirational age of elegance.
—Tim Blanks
Runway Feed

Our Legacy

July 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Fashion News

Leave it to the Swedes to take all of menswear’s familiar tropes and distort them into something strangely beautiful. For Spring 2015, Stockholm-based Our Legacy infused suiting, workwear, and streetwear with both Scandinavian oddness and references to earthly elements. The result is a collection of twisted, artful minimalism.

This season the brand found new ways to reduce uniform pieces to their most basic concepts, then tweak them in unexpected ways. Most noteworthy was the inventive approach to fabric—a leather shirt, stiff enough to stand on its own, was indigo dyed so that it brought to mind tropical seawater; coated linen gave basic suiting an out-of-the-ordinary feel; and textured nylon was tie-dyed to look like an oil slick and cut into boxy outerwear. Traces of the earth’s creative (and destructive) power could be found throughout the collection. Double-layer linen was distressed to resemble cracked earth. Pure raw silk gave a soft, mossy feel to shirting. Synthetic outerwear pieces were permanently crinkled into glacial forms. Prints looked scorched and rust stained.

Most items stuck to traditional shapes, made slightly off-kilter with unconventional details. Zippers were used in lieu of buttons on shirting, trousers fastened with drawstrings, and windbreakers were cut as
crewnecks. Fit was a tricky proposition. Boxy jackets and wide-cut pants aren’t for the styling novice’s wardrobe, but these aren’t clothes for the thoughtless. Now 10 years in the game, Our Legacy has established itself as a brand that makes menswear more interesting, not easier. For that we can be thankful.
—Noah Johnson
Runway Feed

Alexis Mabille

July 23, 2014 by  
Filed under Fashion News

“What is the most beautiful in virile men is something feminine; what is most beautiful in feminine women is something masculine.” That Susan Sontag quote provided Alexis Mabille with a starting point for his new Haute Couture collection. Mabille’s general idea was to incorporate some element of a man’s wardrobe into each of the outfits. Nothing groundbreaking as far as concepts go, but it did produce one of the designer’s most restrained and accomplished offerings in some time. First out was a “tuxedo” consisting of a double-breasted jacket and long, narrow skirt, the wool on both pieces fused with lace to create a tempting bit of peekaboo at the waist. Elsewhere, the neckline of a black lace gown was accented with lapels, and a white bib-front shirt was extended into a dress. As a rule, the more masculine the look, the more compelling it was. A frilly dress embroidered with naive parrots on a vine lost the plot. But an emerald green strapless number, the torso of which was built like a jacket with lapels peeled back to reveal the creamy satin corset underneath? We’d bet Mabille’s star client Dita Von Teese already has that one on hold. It put proof to the Sontag maxim, and then some.
—Nicole Phelps
Runway Feed

Michael Bastian

July 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Fashion News

“The Southwest is a little bit of a challenge,” said Michael Bastian at his studio in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood. “I really wanted to avoid all the clichés—no cowboy, no poncho, no fringes. You know, how real guys in that part of the U.S. would dress, or my dream of how they would dress.” For Spring 2015, Bastian took his collection of sportswear to Arizona. “Maybe because I grew up in Rochester, but the desert Southwest to me is exotic,” the designer said.

Clichés were mostly avoided, but not entirely. There were embroidered Western shirts, suede outerwear, and bronze feather accessories from the George Frost x Michael Bastian collaboration. The best expression of the theme was in the dusty hues, soft, textured fabrics, and faded denim. As always with Bastian, the tailoring stood head and shoulders above the rest of the collection. Sharp suits in a linen-blend “denim,” plaid, herringbone, and windowpane were the highlights. All kinds of trousers were reimagined in typical Bastian fashion. Riding pants and cargos were stripped down; motocross pants were made summery in faded canvas and denim; and slim, tapered sweatpants were done in gray piqué.

Bastian’s vision for guys in the Southwest favored glamour over ruggedness. There was something louche in the mostly unbuttoned shirts, short shorts, and, of course, the quintessential Michael Bastian racer swimsuit. But the ease of the collection was almost too easy. The designer might have successfully avoided clichés, but all of the softening and fading seems to have removed the grit that makes the Southwest special.
—Noah Johnson
Runway Feed

Chanel

July 21, 2014 by  
Filed under Fashion News

A huge terrace with a fireplace—it has always been in Karl Lagerfeld’s mind as a beautiful idea, ever since he saw photos of the visionary architect Le Corbusier’s long-gone Paris apartment. “I just never found a place to do it,” he said after the Chanel show today. Until now, of course, when the gigantic forest-planting, iceberg-importing, supermarket-building extravaganzas of Chanel shows past were scaled down to mimic the stark geometry of Corbu’s designs. At either end of the catwalk were huge fireplaces stoked with digital flames. Above the mantel, a big old baroque mirror. Brutalist and baroque: A typically provocative union from a designer who skates across time like fashion’s answer to Doctor Who.

But it wasn’t simply with the setting that Lagerfeld indulged his long-cherished dream. Le Corbusier was the architect who made concrete a staple of modern design. So Lagerfeld made concrete the foundation of his collection. Concrete! In Haute Couture! When you turn it into tiny tiles, it becomes a beautiful mosaic. Who knew? Lagerfeld delightedly demonstrated the material’s unexpected lightness by dangling a string of concrete beads under the noses of journalists. “Tongue in chic,” he crowed. “Very chic.”

That twistedness was the key to the collection. The word couture implies cutting and seaming. There was none of that here. Everything was molded rather than seamed. “It’s Haute Couture without the Couture,” said Lagerfeld, tongue firmly in cheek. And yet there was look after look of a gorgeousness so exquisite it could only be achieved in ateliers that were accustomed to confronting the impossible—and mastering it. It must help that Lagerfeld always has the future in mind as he cherry-picks his way through the past. Take lace and coat it with silicone. Think pink, but think plastic, too. Tatter, shred, disrespect…and make something new. That was all in keeping with the much-touted youth-ifying of Couture. Sam McKnight’s hair and Maison Michel’s little hats perched pertly on the back of the models’ heads had the effect of a Haircut 100 cover from The Face circa 1982. The effect was compounded by Lagerfeld building his silhouette on shorts. There were coatdresses over shorts, jackets and skirts over shorts, plus the perfect shoes for shorts—sandals. Given the molded, sculpted nature of the clothes, Lagerfeld liked the ease of a flat. “The models can walk in those dresses like they’re nothing,” he said.

The show closed with a passage of long, chalk-white, almost penitent gowns, lavished with embroidery. The combination not only embodied the brutalist/baroque twinning of Lagerfeld’s inspiration, it also echoed the duality of Coco Chanel’s own life, the austerity of her professional self countered by the exotic orientalism of Coco at home. It made for a stunning contrast, matched only by the final foxtrot of Karl and his
seven-months-pregnant bride, the Kiwi model Ashleigh Good. “I like pregnant women,” he said, in keeping with his new cat-loving, godfather-ing public persona. “She looks so elegant, so noble.”
—Tim Blanks
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