Paris Fashion Week: Fall 2009 RTW: #11-25
current mood: insomnia
current song: Susanna And The Magical Orchestra - Enjoy the Silence
Every fashion season ends on a high note. Paris is by far my favourite week, with designers who truly approach fashion as art: making diverse clothes that range from the exquisitely beautiful to the utterly bizarre. Recession? what recession? Perhaps *some* designers reigned themselves in a bit, but the results were still breathtaking. Paris did not dissapoint me. In fact, I couldn't bring myself to limit myself to presenting any less than 25 collections. However, for the bottom five I only wrote short keywords about their appeal, rather than a fullblown review. Just wait until the top 10: art at its finest.
25. Ann Demeulemeester
Edwardian. Androgynous. Poetic. Controlled Chaos. Balance between the strength of black and the fragility of white.
24. Karl Lagerfeld
Technological. Futuristic. Strong. Structured. built-out "bridge" shoulders. Skinny pants. Military. Metallic.
Ingénue. Charming. Pirate Booties. Velvet. Dreamy, semi sheer dresses, blouses and skirts. Eyelet and scallop detailing. Pretty Bow sandals. Soft side of the Eighties. Easy Girlish Glamour.
22. Hussein Chalayan
Conceptual. "Earthbound". Sculpted Fabric. Urban Streets. Asphault. Concrete. manhole covers. Winding surging roads. Prints of : Fences, Blurred images, Shattered colors, The sky.
21. Rick Owens
Darkness into Light. Avant-Gard, Swan-like. Creative Layering. Asymmetrical. Monochromatic. Sculptural. Edgy. Strange. Can be dismantled into cool utilitarian separates.
20. Christian Dior
After a disappointing few seasons, John Galliano returns to form with a collection inspired by orientalism of Paul Poiret that manages to have a perfectly Parisian attitude despite the exotic influences of Asia. Well cut suits and coats opened the show, with Turkish, Chinese, and other oriental inflections. The real highlight however, were the romantic chiffon cocktail and evening dresses that were either light or sheer with stunning Indian embroidery. This collection also offered some of the most to die for shoes of the season.
19. Emanuel Ungaro
I have tried to resist anything that smacked of the 80s, but the exuberance of this Emanuel Ungaro collection was just irresistible. Every look here was ready for the nightclub, but this is for the actual dancers - those happy-go-lucky girls who just want to celebrate life and youth by having some fun. The colours were bright, but, for the most part, tasteful. Barbie pink, bright blue, and vivid orange appeared in color blocks, polka dots, or even just a fun pair of tights paired with an otherwise gray scale outfit - and despite the focus on colour, their were plenty of looks in black, white, and gray that were tamer, but nevertheless carried the same celebratory mood. Structurally, the collection was also excellent - origami folds in skirts and dresses, stylish jackets, cutaway jackets, fabric that flows boisterously outward or swath around the body-always showing off youthful figures. The collection was best when colors and prints were used sparingly, as their were a few unfortunate cases of clashing, but aside from the spectacular failures-such as the odd knits-this collection was great fun.
18. Rue Du Mail
This collection is what many might call random - they would be misusing the word as they usually do, but that is the point. What appears to be accidentally beautiful is actually beautiful design using both draping and structure; the don't-give-a-damn look is actually thoughtful styling. The result is a rocker chic look of carefree elegance - sexy, gorgeous, offbeat, even a little mysterious. There are a number of rock clichés certainly, but the patchwork of these elements, the strange assortment that seems like it must have happened in a whirlwind - makes it new, exciting, full of je ne sais quoi.
17. Antonio Berardi
I must here address a grievous error I made last season in leaving Antonio Berardi off the best of Paris list. That collection greatly grew in my esteem and should have been there. This collection is also excellent, but did not start well - with a series of short dresses of closely layered palettes. The appeal of these looks is quite incomprehensible to me - although others them;. To me they just looked clumpy: like a child's art project with way too much white glue. However, the collection definitely turned around after that and we got the angel-and-devil play that Berardi does so well. I love the shapes, the inventiveness, and of course the impeccable tailoring. He made looks that offered a more flattering take on the shoulder obsession - the looks with the rounded shoulders that had just a slight exaggeration were a particular success. He is masterful at making artistic statements about good and evil yet still having the looks be wearable for the adventurous, of the moment, and unique.
16. Stella McCartney
Laid-cool, cool, hip, eco-conscious, with confident sex appeal - this is the Stella McCartney girl, and she certainly delivered with this collection. Long jackets and cocoon coats with skinny belts appeared in red/black and black/white micro-check or solid colours. They were edgy and effortlessly cool. Many were paired with sexy legging-boots that appeared leather but of course - since Stella uses no animal products in her clothes - were not. I really couldn't understand the puffy string coats - they really looked quite ridiculous if snuggly. However the stunning slip dresses with lace that was so delicate it seemed spider-spun stole the show and compensated for those monster coats.
15. Louis Vuitton
Once again Marc Jacobs is drawing from the 80s—only this time it is late 80s Parisian fashion: A frivolous, flirty, and fun times - all ruffled, ruched, and poufed. Yet it is not simply an imitation - Jacobs is subverting chichi French style with his use of bows, lace, ribbon, peplum jackets, bubble skirts, bejeweled sating leggings. There are times when his outsider status is clear bringing a distinctly American attitude - brash, loud, extroverted, clumsy, ADD - with hideously bright colors, awful prom dresses, the worst sort of broad shoulder on already way oversized coats, acid-wash patterns, and the whole underground post-punk aesthetic that used to be a statement but is now just a pose. These particular looks are jarringly out of place...breaking rather than truly bending the original style conventions . Fortunately, however they only appear so because most of the collection is delightful. Accessories are likewise exuberant and fun with leather necklaces and belts fashioned like paper chains, and extravagant shoes and purses. Jacobs is charming applying his wit to the polished but effortless-looking sense of style and quality of the Parisians.
"Lagerfeld tagged the collection 'Belle Brummell,' a gender-reassigned quip referring to the British Regency dandy who dictated men's fashion by tying his cravats in ever more elaborate configurations. The pun also gave full permission to bring the classic Chanel white georgette blouse into play, a perfect device for subtracting the austerity from black in a distinctly Rue Cambon manner. Lagerfeld worked it every which way, in bouclé, lace, knit, satin, and paillettes, while also making a witty swerve in the direction of the season's motorcycle leathers (interpreted here in slim drop-waist dresses) and puffer jackets." There certainly was a dandyish quality added to the classic new woman staples of Chanel such as little black dresses, fitted tweed suits, and chiffon camelias - most notably the form of extravagant ruffles circling the neck and sleeves. It seemed appropriate to use a man who had a touch of the feminine to his style as inspiration for a Chanel collection - since she did the opposite, taking the overdone woman's fashions at the turn of the century - restrictive corsets and all - and tossing them aside for a more liberated sense of the young lady.
This collection blended maturity and girlishness. Sophisticated black was offset by the unexpected accents of light pink and jade green. These colours worked quite well as accents in striking Art Deco-style necklaces, bracelets and rings. Perhaps most playfully rings of these colors appeared in the heels of the shoes! However, the colours did not work as well in large patches - although that perhaps had more to do with the texture and size of the knits which were more little girl than flirtatiously girlish. However, those notes aside, it was quite a charming collection - with the sense both of tradition and innovation that Lagerfeld does so well for the house of Chanel.
13. Viktor & Rolf
Set to a medley of "Enjoy the Silence" covers, this collection drew it's inspiration from the beautiful and silent figures of Greco-Roman Sculpture. The collection took the drapery trend back to it's ancient roots, often experimenting with heavier, stiffer fabrics than usual drapery garments, so that the folds appeared set in stone. Elsewhere they took a different approach, using liquid jersey to mimic the folds of theatre curtains, as if some Greek tragedy was about to unfold. The makeup was quite a stunning move, although some models wore it better than others (the white facepaint did not translate well on to darker skin) - it was a simple, effective use of makeup, transforming the models' faces into drama masks - or perhaps the stone of sculptures. Indeed, the models often did appear to be statues brought to life - with garments made from marbled fabric, fabric pieced together like mosaics, and even marvelous long skirts in "diamond-cut" stiff fabric. At times the drapery was a bit awkward, but this is by far my favourite Viktor & Rolf collection: experimental yet not extreme, and exquisite in its ancient beauty.
Sophisticated, original rocker chic. fashionably cut leather jackets. tulle wrapped mist-like around. There are lots of pretenders to the rocker-chic throne. Designer after designer this season cranked out cliche after cliche with often tacky or shoddy results; but Sophia Kokosalaki has been at it for some time, and it shows. THIS is how it should be done. There was, of course, a great deal of leather and impossibly cool jackets. The looks had a restrained amount of embellishment. The dresses - sexy but not slutty - the bad ass rocker chick should *own* her sexuality after all, not be objectified by it - came pincher in asymmetrical nude and black with flourished fabric like a modern art piece, or in slips that were swathed in tulle - it looked like the smoky night clung to them. The materials here have rarely been used in such an artistic, classy, and intelligent way - these are rocker chicks with brains.
11. Alexander McQueen
Welcome to the madhouse. Labeled misogynistic by some due to the " sex-doll lips and sometimes painfully theatrical costumes" this was an undoubtedly spectacular and memorable show. Creepy, disturbing, demented - why it was positively Burtonesque! (in fact, a pair of earrings looked exactly like one of the sculptures from the Beetlejuice film). The theme was recycling - and indeed the headpieces and even some of the garments were made from rubbish heap materials: pop cans, trashbags, an old steering wheel.
"The set was a scrap heap of debris from the stages of McQueen's own past shows, surrounded by a shattered glass runway. The clothes were, for the most part, high-drama satires of twentieth-century landmark fashion: parodies of Christian Dior houndstooth New Look and Chanel tweed suits, moving through harsh orange and black harlequinade looks to revisited show-stoppers from McQueen's own archive." (Style.com).
Bizarre, Grotesque, oddly beautiful (sometimes), the collection was seemed from some warped dimension - from the strange patterns the the terrifying platform boots that seemed to stretch upward in a time-collapsed view. Mcqueen's recycling of the past made a collection disorientingly both familiar and foreign. It wasn't all show however, the clothes were exquisitely made - McQueen does have a couturier's skill after all-and some pieces could actually be worn out in public, if you are a girl who isn't afraid of a little show-stopping drama. Please though, don't go for the Leigh Bowery lips.