Paul Smith

August 2, 2014 by  
Filed under Fashion News

Sir Paul Smith is known to take his party hosting very seriously, busying about and hovering over shoulders to make sure his guests have all they need for a proper frolic. The same meticulous pursuit of leisurely perfection seeped through his Spring men’s collection, staged under the soaring glass dome of the Bourse de Commerce, where a site-specific garden of potted cacti and succulents had been installed, replacing the piles of Oriental rugs in the same space last season.

He explained the plants backstage. “My young designers, who are only 20 to 25, are so interested in cultivating their own gardens,” he said. “I think it’s so delightful that the young generation wants to do that. The news is so full of horror. When people ask my advice, I think of them and say, ‘Just relax. Tend a garden.'”

The greenery, which made it into the collection as a fern print, was but one facet of the sprawling show. Smith typically melds eclectic cultural sources with idiosyncratic colors and textures, creating a well-traveled, well-informed Pop sensibility. He did the same here in a disparate assemblage of near-louche scarves, desert shades, friendship rings, subtle paisley (if paisley can be subtle), at least two kinds of fringe, papery leather, a chevron motif, purplish plaids, and kitschy prints—all converging to create a lively and decidedly outré rejoinder to the chaos of the world.

The two pieces of a traditional suit—no vests here, somewhat surprisingly—had been pulled apart and paired with other, more casual items of the modern man’s wardrobe: pajamas, tunics, track pants, shorts, sweatshirts, Harrington jackets. The liquid loungewear aspect may not find its way into men’s wardrobes as easily as the humorous knits or the dusty dégradé. But it’s an option, should any of Smith’s customers be in the market for proper frolic attire. Besides, he says, “I was brought up on Pop Art and rock ‘n’ roll. I will always be irreverent.”
—Lee Carter
Runway Feed

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

Paul & Joe

July 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Fashion News

Paul & Joe‘s Sophie Albou sympathizes with customers who question the retail calendar. “The resort delivery can be frustrating; women want to buy clothes and wear them right away,” she says. Her pre-collection, she insists, offers a wide enough range for beach vacationers and city slickers alike.

Despite the nods to nautical—thick cable-knit sweaters, brass-buttoned coats, and wide-legged pants with front pockets—Albou steered more toward a broader, breezy sensibility. Lace in dusty pink and blue made repeat appearances as a pencil skirt, cigarette pants, and a men’s blazer. Tiny cats and dolphins showed up as prints on a tunic dress, a boat-neck top, slim pants, and bikini bottoms. And a silk crepe covered in lipstick kisses easily wooed as blouses and drawstring shorts.

On the rare occasions Albou strays outside her comfort zone, the results can be mixed. Take the jumpsuit designed to look like two pieces; initially, it seemed clever in a trompe l’oeil way. But there’s no reason why a blouse and trouser pairing could not achieve the same look—and minus the logistical hassle. What was clever was the way Albou allowed a few standout pieces—a sheath that plunges beautifully in back and a sleeveless blouse with scarf tails in an Escher-esque print—to anchor the brand’s easy wardrobe updates. These aren’t clothes to save for special occasions, but that’s exactly why the collection works so well.
—Alex Veblen
Runway Feed