Friday, October 30, 2015

Louis Vuitton // Spring 2016 //

Nicolas Ghesquière is profoundly interested in children’s video-games. For the Louis Vuitton Series 3 exhibition in London, one narrow room was lined with tables. The objective was to place ones hands on the screen and underneath, la petite mains would work on the construction of a LV bag. For his Spring 2016 show, held at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Fernanda Ly emerged to the sound of a Minecraft advertisement. Minecraft is not just a game about making houses out of blocks. It’s about exploring a virtual world and creating, destroying whatever you want. It’s a great form of self-expression. You create your own rules within the game and can travel as far and wide as you like. “With no rules to follow, this adventure begins now,” the track finishes. Ghesquière’s first few collections for Louis Vuitton felt regimented; there was something bubbling under the surface. His Resort 2016 collection was his first foray into the unexpected. For Spring he created his own rules. “The only limit is your imagination."

In a season where we’ve seen hyper-femininity, Ghesquière toughened things up. From the pink leather jacket opener with black accents, to the net-like embroidered tank top, and the monogrammed jackets to the accessories, this was a girly girl roughening things up in a skilful way. We often see in fashion collections where the women tries to embody a rockstar, and it doesn’t do so with finesse—this on the other hand was sure-footed, well-heeled. The models all wore fingerless gloves; some even resembled knuckledusters. The shoes were slip on brogues, thick-soled booties, heavy snakeskin lace-ups, flatform sandals. I expect the ankle boots to sell the best. Even in minute details, like the slightly unkempt hair, to the powerful strut, and the accessories, the whole look held up the tough-girl act. 
The Louis Vuitton woman is global, as displayed by Ghesquière’s muses. There's Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, American actresses Michelle Williams and Jennifer Connolly, South Korean actress Doona Bae, Dutch model Marte Mei van Haaster, Ethiopian model Liya Kebede. Some of those women were front row, others walked in the show. The customer is also global. I can see Lina Hoss’ over-dyed silk boiler suit on the streets of Tokyo, the embroidered pink gown in Cannes, the monogrammed waistcoat in Dallas, the futuristic metallic mini dress in Rio. This collection is all about a journey through a virtual world, but it also sets out to “conquer the fascinating territory that is today’s woman, a complement of strength and fragility.” 

The colour-clashing biker jacket (which reminded me of the Christopher Kane spray painted numbers and Min Wu’s bruises motifs in he collection) is the next street-style hit, I predict. Equally the printed trousers, that sees the “heroine passes through various sartorial levels and explores a universe of multiple atmospheres,”, could perform fantastically. 
Posed in the show notes are a set of questions. Gender fluidity? I believe he’s still finding his way with this at Vuitton. Modern romance? That was definitely evident in the collection. The puffy skirts, capelet tops, the floaty dresses. The power of the body? The models effortlessly elevated the clothes. Absolute femininity? Ghesquiere’s balance of strength and fragility could symbolise. The poplin bubble dresses and skirts appeared light, but were given a sharp edge when paired with leather waistcoats and jackets.

The collection had few weaknesses. I wasn’t smitten by the red and white stripe and monogrammed coats, the bermuda shorts or the poplin cotton bubble skirts. I did love the printed trousers, the capelet tops, the finale dresses and the biker jackets. The embroidered maxi-dresses were lovely. "The entire evolution of a classic, urban wardrobe is gradually remastered.” Ghesquière is revolutionising women’s wardrobes. Women around the world will be greeted with this new wardrobe in January. “The adventure depends on you.” Pick an item and see where it takes you. I’m sure it will be an exhilarating quest. 
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Céline // Spring 2016 //

Whether it was singer Lorde in a dressing room selfie, actress Emma Roberts in the Marlene Marino-lensed pages of Wonderland magazine, or editors on the streets during fashion month, it’s universally known that everyone that wears a backless Céline dress from the Fall 2015 collection will look good. Phoebe Philo’s fall 2015 collection was one of her strongest at the house. It was progressive, unique, exciting. Spring 2016 conjured a prickly conundrum. It wasn’t enjoyable, in the slightest and it didn’t scream Céline at me. Céline is discreet in its presentation. There are no bells and whistles. You get what you’ve come there for: fashion. 

The set was designed by Danish installation artist FOS, who collaborates with Philo on the Céline stores worldwide. Bright tent sheaths were dangling around the venue, sand scattered across the floor. It was a festival ground, except much more glamourous than the muddy fields of Glastonbury; it was more like a utopian version of Coachella. 

The opening look was a stark contrast to the serene opener of last season. The ivory sheath dress had black lace-trim which gave the look a sexy flair. I would’ve liked this look had the make-up and hair not been as harsh and severe as it was. The following look with white lace and a black body was dreadful. Look 4, paired with ghastly red flats, was another horrible piece. 
I can see women investing in the precisely tailored trousers and jackets from the collection. One brown shirt with open-buttoned sleeves would be a perfect wardrobe staple. The Prince of Wales check coat was lovely and a perfect summer coat. The crop-top underneath would appeal to a younger woman, like the aforementioned Lorde or Emma Roberts. 

I can count few looks which I liked wholly in this collection. There was a squiggle print coat with black lace peeping out at the end. The black fitted coat with gold hardware and white lace details was simply divine. The boots with a lick of red were also beautiful and suited to the look. Finally, the burnt-orange dress with a pleated skirt was beautiful. The same boots in the look I mentioned previously toughened up the dress in this look also. Those three pieces are the ones that I can see people buying, selling and wearing the most. 

Disliking, passionately, a Céline collection must be considered treasonous by many people. Phoebe Philo is one of the most talented designers in the industry; a woman who I have a massive amount of respect for. However, this collection wasn’t intriguing. Frankly, it was a head-scratcher. 
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Christopher Kane // Spring 2016 //

Christopher Kane is one of London’s most established names. On the eve of 10 years in the business, the designer was looking at two words in particular for his Spring 2016 collection, “crash and repair.” Those two words were what Kane and his sister/business partner, Tammy were saying to each other. That idea was translated both literally and metaphorically in this collection. “Crash became the metaphor,” Kane says in the show notes, “with everything that has happened [to them] over the last few months.” The “repair” aspect came from the idea of “creation coming from destruction.” The clothes resonated with these ideas also. There were fractures, slashes and sharp cuts. Hairstylist Guido Palau used zip ties, emblazoned with the Kane logo, on models hair, and the stylist on this seasons' bags. 

The works of artists John Chamberlain and Scottie Wilson inspired Kane for spring. Chamberlain is famous for his work with cars which have been crushed and contorted into unlikely positions. Wilson on the other hand is a Scottish outsider artist. His work is highly detailed and uses many subdued hues. Elsewhere in the art world, neo-primitivism—another esoteric inspiration—was on Kane’s mind. Colour clashing is visible within most neo-primitivism pieces. Kane’s girls also wore colour clashing garments. Look 2 was an asymmetrical neckline/hemline dress with jagged slashes and incisions which was enriched by spray painted colours. One black mini dress with had a rainbow of PVC accents. It was indecipherable whether this one was for the red-carpet or street-style or the customer. The shapeless dresses that followed that also had protrusions of PVC, in the chest, shoulder, thigh.
Look 22 had a cashmere sweater, falling off the shoulder. On the chest it was decorated with strings of material, metallic accents and rope. It resembled the work of artist Chamberlain. It was paired with snakeskin capris. Waleska Gorczevski’s black blazer with yellow snakeskin accents was a highlight in the collection for me. With a cashmere tank and slouchy trousers, the look was a standout. The white blouse with a squiggle print and it’s accompanying black leather skirt with feather details was gorgeous. The black satin halter neck dress with zip ties interlocked in the belt was another stunning piece. 

One loose-fit kaftan dress had a stitch detailing throughout the dress and a burst of tribal fringe but it felt distinctly Claire Barrow, than it did Christopher Kane. The same went for its top double paired with slouchy trousers with fringe detail. It looked out of place in this collection. 

On the Monday that this collection was presented I have to say I was appalled. After three fantastic days, it was penultimate day of London Fashion Week and the whole morning had been unimpressive and quite dull. Then it got to this collection which I found to be a jarring, unlovable sight. It’s a month later and this collection is finally growing on me. I loved the patchwork dresses at the end, bursting with colours and the fusion of different textures. It’s certainly not his best collection to date, in my opinion. However, there is something about this collection that I’ve grown to like a lot. I think it’s the shapes, the lines and colours. I can only hope he’s back to his best next season. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Balmain // Spring 2016 //

Paris Fashion Week has, arguably, the most exclusive parties of the season. Earlier this month there was the Anna Wintour-hosted Vogue & Instagram party at La Réserve restaurant, and Peter Dundas’ Roberto Cavalli dinner at Caviar Kaspia. However, the most prolific was Balmain’s after-party at Lapérouse. Designer Olivier Rousteing has a lot of friends, his runway and his Instagram display this. His Balmain Army consists of the usual suspects: Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Joan Smalls, Alessandra Ambrosio, Isabeli Fontana, etc. If that’s not #SquadGoals, I don’t know what is. The Spring 2016 Balmain show that preceded the after-party was another spectacle, and lesson high-powered glamour. Enlisting the help of the world’s top models, Rousteing put on a show, and it was just as amazing as you’d expect it to be. 
The colours in the collection were for the most part gradated, sandy orange, emerald, chestnut, taupe, nude, black and white. Eye-catching, decadently prepared; ready for a night of dancing on tables. Rousteing expressed that there wasn’t an inspiration for this collection but turning 30 had an effect on the jubilant affair. I’m sure that party was another epic with some table-dancing, Balmain-clad party-goers. 

References of Kim Kardashian, a stalwart Rousteing for Balmain fan, could be seen in the collection. The suede rust bodysuit worn under a sheer netted skirt sprang to mind. I can easily imagine the reality TV star slipping into the sandy orange off-the-shoulder gown with cascading ruffles and a corset. The modern rework on a duster coat, draped elegantly over the model’s shoulders is a Kardashian/Jenner staple. The illusion jumpsuit worn by Kim’s sister Kendall, is another look that I can see on the soon-to-be mother-of-two.

The red carpet friendly gowns in this collection will hopefully not be wasted. On the right person they’ll look effortlessly beautiful, but in the hands of some it could become an over-sexualised tragedy. Kate Grigorieva’s beaded gown was lovely. The macramé gowns weren’t as enjoyable. Herieth Paul’s flaming orange criss-cross neckline gown with a skirt boasting an excessive amount of ruffles was easily the strongest piece in the collection.
My question is: would this brand survive without the social media coverage it receives? If you were to take away the Insta-girls, the social-media omnipresence, the parties, would the shows be as magnified, anticipated and sought after. Personally, I think it would. Olivier Rousteing transformed what Christophe Decarnin created, in a respectful way. Yes, it’s for the rich party girl, a very exclusive customer, but that’s always been Balmain. Unlike Decarnin, Rousteing has to be careful as sometimes his collections are on the verge of being tacky. Some of these looks fell into that category, but others got away unscathed. Those were the memorable looks in this collection, and they were splendid.

Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Monday, October 26, 2015

J.W. Anderson // Spring 2016 //

In the past it was always the Prada show that presented us with the fresh model faces of the season. However, more recently it’s J.W. Anderson in London who gives us a glimpse at who will be next season’s most sought after models. Nirvana Naves opened the Northern Irish designer’s Spring 2016 collection during London Fashion Week. Mayka Merino, Emma Lund and Martina Lew were also exclusives in the show. Being an exclusive is fantastic for models and designers; it garners both exposure. But being in a truly unforgettable show must be even greater. That was the case in point at this season’s show. 

As a designer who doesn’t rebukes predictability, Anderson threw a curveball and it was impossibly brilliant. It proposed a bold statement  and thus became the standout collection of London Fashion Week. The opening look consisted of a skimpy black bra top and blush trousers cinched at the ankles, giving a lantern flare. The 80’s inspired bra top was especially effective when paired with a white corset and a nude skirt. 
The 80’s was important in this collection as it was in the last ready-to-wear collection. The work of street artist Keith Haring inspired the collection. Squiggle prints seen on a many looks all derived from Haring’s work. Look 2, the top an ode to prairie dressing, the top to the 80’s and th squiggle print on the skirt to Haring. One pair of trousers, tucked into dark copper, square-toed boots, had one leg with black squiggle print and the other with a bright blue. 

Inspired by late 1800s fashion, the mutton sleeves (with an 80’s sensibility, naturally) were a daring offering. When Lineisy Montero’s navy dress with a ruffled hemline and high neck took to the runway, it was as if we stepped into a time machine. The blue, white and black brushstrokes  on exclusive Mayka Merino’s mutton sleeve top was beautiful. It contrasted wonderfully with the yellow, white and black trousers. 

The J.W. Anderson party girl was fully fledged this season. There was a signature, ruched denim top and skirt combo. Lace knee length shorts were paired. There was a sheer top, resembling plastic (as seen in Paris at Loewe), and black lace trousers. Alexandra Elizabeth’s black lamé dress was also paired with the black lace cycling shorts. Harleth Kuusik, who closed the show, wore a bright blue, and black and white squiggle print A-line mini skirt. Paired with this was a rose, ruffled lace top and cardigan.

In the eyes of some, this may be a ghastly outing. In the wrong hands this could’ve been a shambles. We must remember that with the virtuosic Anderson, anything’s possible and it will most likely be amazing. Your eyes are opened to new and exciting things at a J.W. show. I’m smitten by the sheer audacity of it. It was captivating; slightly mad, but wearable in most cases. It might’ve seemed inherently wrong but it all felt so right. 

Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Friday, October 23, 2015

Jill de Burca // Spring 2016 //

The Institute of Contemporary Arts wasn’t only the home to the BFC Presentation Space during London Fashion Week in September; ‘Unfold,’ the Irish Design 2015 presentation occupied one of the houses in the back of the building. Irish Design 2015 is “a year long programme exploring, promoting and celebrating Irish design.” One designer in particular who is participating in the ID2015 is Jill de Burca. She was inspired by “fish.” After a visit to the American Museum of Natural History. After a seeing an image of an X-ray of a fish, “it all started to come together from there.” 

For those of you who don’t know, de Burca studied at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin. Specialising in embroidery at NCAD, she worked on production of Erdem’s embroidered designs. Her other clients include Stella McCartney and Mary Katrantzou. Topshop, Calvin Klein and Diane von Furstenberg have all purchased de Burca’s creations in the past.

De Burca “researched and started to develop [her] prints and embellishments from drawings.” Fish skeleton prints were in gradated hues of blue and green, red and pink. The Dublin designer specialised in embroidery during her course. Examples of that were also present in the collection, through the motif of the fish. Shrimp, lobster and other shoals were brought to life using diamantes, colourful buttons, gold accents and more. 

The shapes in the collection were a perfect fit for summer. Loose, airy, perfect for summer. One black tank dress was enlivened with a colourful, embroidered lobster. The black bomber jacket with the bright fish skeleton print is the light jacket every woman will be after next year. As well as those, there were mini skirts, flouncy tops and a dress all festooned with fish, through embroideries, kaleidoscopic prints.

I’m glad I was able to see de Burca’s work in person. The rising designers of today were had this great platform and out of the ten of them, de Burca’s was one of my favourites. “[Being a part of Unfold] has been invaluable in helping me promote my brand and engage with an international audience.” Keep an eye on this name, there’s great things to come.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

DKNY // Spring 2016 //

Donna Karan left her eponymous label earlier this year in order to focus on the Donna Karan Foundation. Her main line dissolved as a result. Her diffusion line, DKNY, was previously helmed by the Executive Vice President of Design, Jane Chung. Late last year it was announced that Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, the dynamic duo behind New York's hippest label with a cult following, Public School, would be taking the reins. I don't particularly see the allure behind the Public School. The clothes are nice but I don't see why people rave about them. There's nothing spectacular on offer. I always hope that they'll throw a curveball, shake things up and impress me. I'm still waiting. The duo finally, in my eyes, exemplified their true talent with the DKNY collection. They played to their strengths, menswear, and honed it in but in a womenswear collection. 

In a season where we've an ample amount of ruffles, eclectic colour clashing, and prints, it was refreshing to be met with an anonymous, monochromatic colour palette. Sticking to grey, white, black and with an occasional burst of blue, the collection focused on shape and silhouette.

During the set playlist, an interruption would offer, “men think about victory. Women think about love, marriage. Me, I think about victory". Presenting us with a feminist statement, which is becoming currency in fashion, the clothes echoed what the woman on the speakers was getting at. The collection may have been looking to the 90's, but the reference is resonates with the present day. The DKNY power-dressers. The models’ walks were more of a stomp. Flouncing was a pinstripe, grey dress with a grey top tucked into to it. 

A neatly cut grey blazer was may be a tad too austere for Spring but a lightness is even conveyed by catwalk images. The white blazer dress was another surprisingly summery look. My go-to red carpet favourite Diane Kruger would look excellent in it.

Urban sensibility and boardroom chic. If you need workwear staples, look no further than this DKNY collection. Magazines always talk about a “day-to-night wardrobe.” That was also here. Chow and Osborne's debut DKNY collection is for women ready for the streets, for the party, and for the boardroom. 
Photo Credit: livingly.com

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Proenza Schouler // Spring 2016 //

Chances are, if you picked up a September issue on newsstands last month and leafed through the editorials you'll identify a common denominator. Cuba. Ever since the U.S. and Cuba announced they would be restoring diplomatic ties, with new trade and travel regulations, fashion's latest obsession has become the Central American country. Marie Claire, Porter, W: they've all had editorials in the capital Havana. Hussein Chalayan, Stella McCartney and other designers also had a take on the country for their respective collections. Proenza Schouler designers, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez visited the picturesque country at the beginning of the year to seek inspiration for their resort collection. The references permeated into the Spring 2016 collection also. Hernandez's family originates from Cuba. Backstage he discussed how their inspiration has never been "personal". That changed with this ode to his heritage. 

The Proenza Schouler boys have never done ruffles before. Flexing their experimental desire, look no further than a dress with a ruffled peplum or the ruffles lining sleeves. Look 9 (which worn on the red carpet last week by Cate Blanchett) with its side cutouts and layered ruffles was absolutely stunning. With black piping and a waist defining bow, model Issa Lish carried off the look with aplomb. Look 33 had an asymmetrical hemline, ruffles pointing every which way, and cutouts on the shoulder and hip. 

"Peeling back the layers of a banana," may seem like a strange point of intrigue. Personally, I wouldn't put it past the McCollough and Hernandez. The exposition that comes from the shedding of the layers can be seen clearly in the collection. There were thick fishnets, net skirts, exposed shoulders. Shoulders: fashion's new erogenous zone, as declared by most publications in their trend reports. The teal, thick-fishnet dress had both shoulders severed. Some looks bared only one shoulder, others both. 

Adding the Cuban heat were the dashes of red, dotted throughout the collection. One red coat, with diverging compartments (like the peeling of a banana), was speckled with black floral details and eyelets. A black dress with layered ruffles had red piping. 

Despite being established designers nothing has become formulaic. They experiment season after season. They keep things interesting and that's why I'm interested in them. The unpredictability, occasional audacity, ostentatiousness. You name it. They never fail to excite. 
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Preen by Thornton Bregazzi // Spring 2016 //

Last season Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi had their Preen show at an unused entrance tunnel at King’s Cross Underground station. For Spring 2016 it was the City Hall, home to the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority. From the geometrically modified spherical shape, to the fascinating interiors, this is the kind of architecture that appeals to me. Hosting the Preen show at another landmark is hallmark to their London Fashion Week presence. The models were illuminated by a combination of good lighting and a white catwalk. The lightness allowed for the gorgeous clothes to be seem optimally. 

There was something quite sensual about this collection. We have heard the word “romantic” thrown about recently and to be perfectly honest, we’ve seen it in different shapes and forms. There’s Sarah Burton’s dark romance, and Simone Rocha’s romance with ample sexuality. There was a unique riff on both of those things here with Bregazzi explaining they were looking at a “beautiful romance.” There was the exposed skin: shoulders, hip, thigh; the sheer fabrics, the hoops connecting fabric, lace. Exposed shoulders are fashion's latest interest. Look upon most runways and you’ll see them. Heretofore, I haven’t found the trend to be as effective as possible. Thornton and Bregazzi quickly shifted my mindset. Whether it was the cream, floral-printed dress with a ruffled hem or the lacy, electric blue dress with a bare shoulder, encircled by frothy ruffles. 

The hazy sensuality experienced in the first part of the collection starkly contrasted with the biker jackets, and lace over leather, heavier materials and darker colours, as seen in the second half of the collection. Emmy Rappe’s black lace top was paired with a PVC peplum skirt with a rise-and-fall hemline and Oxfords. Amilna Estevão’s navy trouser suit was festooned with silver hardware. Those two looks are just two examples of the dark masculine/feminine air in the collection, which juxtaposed nicely with the breezier opening looks. You couldn’t say that there wasn’t something for everyone. 

Known for their geometric prints, the duo stayed true to their roots and found the perfect balance between dark and light in tow. There were bright florals on black backgrounds with patches of white. Hemlines grazed the calf. 

The Spring collections have had some brilliant highlights. I rank this among them. There is something about Thornton and Bregazzi’s spellbinding ways that can never cease to excite me. 
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Monday, October 19, 2015

Interview October 2015 // Magazines //

 It may be the 19th of October, and November issues are upon us, but Interview only released their issue over a week ago. It was worth the wait. Fronting the cover is Australian actress Nicole Kidman, photographed by Interview’s editorial director Fabien Baron and styled by the magazine’s creative director, Karl Templer. Nicole’s editorial sees her in Dolce & Gabbana, Céline, Aquilano.Rimondi and more. If I wasn’t already an loyal Interview reader, I would try my best to get my hands on this issue.

The rest of the issue is filled with gems also. There’s the former Vampire Diaries actress Nina Dobrev who talks about the new chapter in her career. Photographer Brian Higbee tremendously captures the actress, conveying a sinister element courtesy of the styling and the red lighting.

In the Air is a fashion editorial that further proves Baron and Templer are a match made in heaven. Baron’s photography combined with Templer’s styling once again make for an epic editorial with models such as Lexi Boling, Julia Nobis, Hanne Gaby Odiele, Avery Blanchard and more. Grace Coddington even pops up in the editorial. 

Esteemed fashion designer Rei Kawakubo is also profiled in the issue. Accompanied by shots of Comme des Garçons Fall 2015 ‘Ceremony of Separation’ collection, the Baron/Templer magic is once again portrayed. I’m extremely excited to read the interview with the elusive Japanese designer. 

Finally, there is another Baron/Templer editorial comes in the form of a profile of Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli, the masterminds behind Valentino. The couture spectacle from July is documented in the issue. 

Easily one of the best issues of the year, methinks.