— “a state of great comfort or elegance, especially when involving great expense”
— “very wealthy and comfortable surroundings”
— “something desirable but expensive”
— “something very pleasant but not really needed in life”
There’s a lot of humdrum in the fashion industry at the moment (isn’t there always) about luxury and what how to define luxury in 2016. In fashion terms, there’s age old luxury—expensive watches, gold accessories, fur coats—and new luxury—cerebral clothing or intangible things. Both are desirable but expensive, pleasant but not really needed in life and generally they belong to people who are very wealthy and life in great comfortable surroundings.
Few designers these days appreciate the meaning of luxury. They present the customer instead with sloppily-made, poorly-fabricated garments that could be replaced with better ones from the likes of Primark/Penneys. One designer that has truly mastered and captures luxury is Tomas Maier, who designs at Bottega Veneta. He’s been seated at the house for 15 years, after stints at Sonia Rykiel and Hermès. The German designer has an unerring knack for grown-up posh dressing. That continued with his recent Fall 2016 collection.
Like many designers before him, and many after, Maier forewent any thematic influences—uncertain times call for exemplary clothing and expert workmanship. Instead, he worked from his own volition exploring potential uniforms for the superrich woman for fall. Jamie Bochert opened in all-black. A trench, a turtleneck, wide-leg trousers and a effortlessly worn scarf. A purple lip and silver heels punctuated her look. There were more uniforms subsequently: some of the suit kind (an unforgettable off-white double-breasted tuxedo as seen on Julia Nobis), and an assortment of wintery dresses—the Sunday lunch kind. The collection could’ve slumped had it been focused solely on tone but Maier injected interest with printed V-neck sweaters, leopard coats, colourful checks and polychromatic, embroidered sweaters. Of the items listed above, none are on offer below €1,000.
Maier understands the intricacies of a posh lady’s shopping list. His nuanced take on power-dressing displays such knowledge. He is a man who appreciates fit and tactility that results in elegant sophistication. Some may call it archaic, others won’t; for the others, it’s the way of life. They live and breathe the polished lifestyle the Bottega Veneta brand exudes on its runways.
Another designer with the same level of expertise as Maier at Bottega Veneta, is a Belgian designer who took Paris by storm years ago. To this day he is still one of the most exciting talents on the Paris Fashion Week schedule—Dries van Noten. Notably, van Noten is a master craftsman with a keen eye for tactility.
Unlike Maier at Bottega Veneta, van Noten’s clothes don’t cost quite as much (in terms of high fashion pricing), however he doesn’t discount ideas of luxury. His clothes are styled in such a way that they look like demo-couture, costing thousands of pounds, but therein lies the wizardry. Furs used in Dries van Noten shows are faux, eco-friendly. His wools look like the most spectacular ever found—assisted by embroidery, as seen in his Fall 2016 collection.
The affair between Marchesa Luisa Casati and poet Gabriele d’Annunzio served as the inspiration. The decadent lifestyle they led and believed in was the true source. The models emerged with charcoal eye-makeup smeared in their sockets. (The handmade invites came painted with a similar image). Hair was lacquered and swept to the side, clean cut, masculine—like d’Annunzio. The clothing was a mixture between the two lovers. Casati’s was a known leopard-owner; faux furs and wide-leg trousers were printed with leopard spots. Lavish faux-furs acted as collars and chokers. Masculine tailoring and suiting, fitted to the model’s lithe bodies, insinuated d’Annunzio’s presence.
Elsewhere in the collection an air of the 70s swept the catwalk. Scholarly influences were felt throughout. A jacket printed with an elaborate coat of arms was a luxe take on the bomber jacket’s recent popularisation amongst youths. Preceding it was another piece akin to a uniform—Yasmin Wijnaldum decked out in a posh school blazer, a striped skirt and tie. Contrary to school uniform norms, she was draped in a faux-fur pelt and snakeskin boots were her footwear choice.
Recurring themes among both collections was the underlying theme of uniforms. The posh uniform specifically directed Maier and van Noten towards the final product. Both results were tremendously lavish, desirable and elegant. Each collection was undeniably synonymous with luxury. While there are arguments to be made that these clothes don’t affect the larger fashion conversation, it remains unarguable that these clothes don’t possess an overwhelming demand. That’s luxury.
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com