Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Gareth Pugh // Fall 2017 //

There has been an overriding political tension accumulating in Gareth Pugh's work since his return to London Fashion Week two years ago. His return saw him explore love of country, frenzied supporters of clubs; from there he opted to use money as the collection's currency, presenting it in Soho, which is currently being gentrified and forcing the closure of historic nightclubs and disembowelling club culture. There was an ode to Hillary Clinton and the power and dominance of a prima ballerina before a foray into body politics. His Fall 2017 show, undoubtedly, was the one with the most chutzpah, the most unapologetic expression of thematic influences in recent memory. Fascism: a political theory advocating a authoritarian hierarchical government (as opposed to democracy or liberalism); favoured by the likes of Marine Le Pen, Donald Trump, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini--it was a tall order.

Some will argue fashion shouldn't be political, it should be--as it is expected of the masses--removed from the world's stage, reserved for back door discussions and private conversations between confidants. Fie upon that school of thought, says Pugh. After a dearth of political expression in the aftermath of Donald Trump's presidency, Pugh's Saturday night show in a dungeon-like, dank, disquieting, brutalist basement in Islington, was the antithesis to the optimistic glamour of the earlier evening and the general disconnect of the season as a whole. With dashes of showmanship and a helping of overt theatricality, the models procession was a mostly black, occasionally grey tonal colour study that issued a response to the bleakness and dread of the world. It began with legendary model Erin O'Connor commandeering the runway, with her hands firmly placed on her hips; her leather coat and baggy trousers conveyed the power of an official figure. The cinched waist and pronounced hips of a blazer with a guard's armband and kepi hat were dramatic allusions to law enforcement.

The monochromatic nature of the show provided for striking viewing material, the utmost attention required to capture the clothing in all their glory. The models' domineering stride intimated, to say the least. One lavished in the luxurious, Italian-inspired tailoring that popularises Pugh's oeuvre globally. These were clothes that in the show format were injected with an unflinching and unmissable theme but on the shop floor have the ability to be a pristinely pair of pants or a sumptuous cost. Theatricality and drama contribute to the awe-inspiring effect of the show. Without the forceful opinion, the jolt, the unavoidable call to action; these would just be 'clothes'. The fashion element derives from his insistence on reflecting the political reality of the world, the prominence of fascism and how we should respond.

Dominance, power, strength and forcefulness are the ways forward according to Pugh's manifesto. The posse of models were frightening; in the face of adversity galvanising people into action by encouraging them to explore a darker side to themselves may prove necessary. The show's resilient spirit urged one to condemn the heinous inflictions of the powers that be and reject them. 

In light of recent terrorist attacks (which remind us of the importance of the arts as a safe place), the word "defiance" springs to mind. We will not succumb to terrorism. We will unite. Most importantly, as expressed here, we will fight back.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Christopher Shannon // Fall 2017 // Menswear

Christopher Shannon is one of the few designers to establish an equilibrium between sportswear and a political message. The Liverpudlian designer based in London knows a thing or two about sportswear: his entire career is founded on its principles and his ability to subvert classic tropes, through his unique perspective. Secondly, he has an invested interest in the world around us: last season he commented on Sports Direct’s maltreatment of its employees (the company infamously had 90% of its staff on zero hour contracts), the season before he looked at the economic unfairness of making it in a big city like London. For Fall 2017 he was back at what he does best, sardonically analysing the issues facing us today. 

The post-Brexit blues permeated the show but Shannon was vehement about it not being miserable. He was looking at the multicultural London cityscape, specifically at construction sights; they accounted for the neon hues, the heavy-duty workwear that played on working class tropes and fetishised them. Shannon has long been a subverter of vulgarity. Spring 2017 was built on a love for denim and all the ways it could possibly be manipulated. That was present here too, it was an endeavour in patch-working. Contrasting panels lit up denim jackets. Elsewhere, he extended his interest in fraying with ridiculously degraded indigo denim on the runway. It all comes back to Shannon’s affinity for lad culture—despite the dark times, the post-Brexit world, he still has to design for them.

There was also the bleaker notion of the fashion industry. Logo t-shirts with ‘Constant Stress’, a reworked Calvin Klein Jeans slogan… Timberland became ‘Tumbleweed’… Boss became ‘Loss International’. It made me think of all the designers who consider the pace of fashion too much. Young designers are struggling to make ends meet, to work to production deadlines; established designers have their creativity stunted by the overwhelming demands of producing four to eight collections a year. Furthermore, the use of ‘Tumbleweed’ to me signifies dry and often humourless state of fashion design; although we have emerging and established designers pushing creative boundaries, there are myriad labels producing unneeded, substandard fashion. As for the Loss International, perhaps Shannon was thinking about globalised business, the sole focus on numbers on a screen. Or, maybe he was thinking about the fashion houses affected by the current economic climate. (Fashionista’s Tyler McCall published a fantastic piece called ‘What Happens When Your Brand Fails’, a fascinating read. I implore you to view it after this.)

Headpieces adorned the crowns of many of the models. They were threadbare fabrics concealing the models’ faces. In an abstract way, they reminded one of plastic bags suffocating the subject. It made sense, what with the constant stress and contrary fashion business. As stated earlier, Shannon asserted he didn’t want this to be a bleak affair. Colour the fabrics in bright yellow and there’s an unmistakably optimistic hue, but behind the colourful textures there’s an innate sense of dread and lifelessness. Depending on your perspective, this collection put the miserable world on a pedestal.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Ekaterina Kukhareva // Fall 2017 //

Motherhood, sisterhood, female friendship have all been fetishised by the zeitgeist over the past few years. Perhaps it was the aftershocks of the supremely funny Bridesmaids that rocked the cinematic universe and the rhetoric around women in film in 2011. Consequently, fashion wants a slice of the cake—either commodifying feminism or capitalising on girl gangs… but it has, however, has long been the proprietor of all-girl gangs. Think of Naomi, Linda, Christy, Cindy and Claudia in the 1990s, or more recently the dominance of women in the NEWGEN lineup at London Fashion Week. Ekaterina Kukhareva, a Ukrainian designer showing in London, presented womenswear and children’s clothing at her static presentation in February.

Her decoratively feminine designs were enriched with a sense of community this season. The all-female cast interacted with one another, playing with the set’s flowers. Some stood, others lounged. There was a casual flair to proceedings—it was akin to the early evening portion of a country wedding, where the enchantingly-clad guests frolicked in the meadows as the sun descended for the night. ‘Enchanting’ is an apt word for the clothing; they shimmered and glistened, flickering in the overhead lighting. There was a timeless beauty to it: she combined lace with sparkling motifs, florals with richer textures; it was rudimentary event dressing with a prim softness that infused it with youthful divinity. 

The inclusion of children’s clothing in the collection differentiated the show from many others of the weekend. It’s rare to see young children in fashion shows, except for at one of Dolce & Gabbana’s familial glorification, where you can expect to see toddlers, infants aplenty. They say never to work with children or animals but these well-behaved cast members served their purpose and sold the show more than the models. The look of austerity and dourness was slathered across the models’ faces rather than an optimistic glow. Sadly, it fuelled the incongruity of the show. The clothes, the children were ebullient, but the sour models weren’t. 

The show’s success derived from its message of inclusion: tall or small, black or white, children or teenagers and young women—everyone’s voice is represented. ‘Female Revolution’ was written on a white t-shirt (a pitiful sales attempt to say the least) and it summarised this collection. Kukhareva will need to strike a balance with her feminism and fashion design in the future, but it’s positively an interesting direction for the Ukrainian to take. (Perhaps a collaboration with her native land's radical feminist activist group FEMEN?) Who run the world, according to Ekaterina Kukhareva? Girls.
All images are my own

Friday, May 19, 2017

Wales Bonner // Fall 2017 // Menswear

There was about as much headlines made from Grace Wales Bonner's guest list at her menswear show in January as there was about the show itself. Having been the recent recipient of the third LVMH Prize, the London-based designer has upped the ante; she now has the chutzpah and standing to invite whoever she feels deserving of a place at her show--noticeably many top editors were absent. It's always the case with these prizes that something happens--a catalysis to their creative success, a removal of all prior hindrance to auspiciousness--after their reception. It happened with Thomas Tait and Marques'Almeida after their victories; the respective labels' business increased fivefold and they injected more zest into their creativity. The €300,000 prize allowed them to reach full capacity. Wales Bonner had already been peddling along finely before this financial injection. She designs beautiful clothing for men.

Her oeuvre is punctuated by her exploration of black history, her pointed subversion and reimagining of black masculinity. She removes the hardness stereotypically associated with black masculinity and replaces it with an undoubted lightness, an earthy goodness hitherto unseen. For her Fall 2017 show she blasted music from gargantuan speakers borrowed from the Notting Hill Carnival. 

There were disparate elements conjoined to produce this output: her time spent in Senegal at a creative retreat, the Caribbean culture that belonged to her ancestors and the appearance of it on her hometown London's streets, Renaissance portraiture converged. The emphasis placed on hand-craftsmanship in her collections perhaps derives from the hardworking and decidedly visually expressive cultures of the Senegalese. Faustine Steinmetz's production partook in the country. The ceremonial and celebratory penchant of the Caribbean Isles permeated the show with the proud procession of polished models. The ornamental beading and embellishment that underscores much of this show was undoubtedly inspired by Renaissance portraits; lavishness and opulence are underlined by her glitzy approaching to dressing men. 
It's amusing to visualise men being slightly disquieted by the extravagance of Wales Bonner. Her work is ridiculously expensive, highly referential and wholly engaging. You can count on her shows for inventive remixes of classic items. Her manipulation of traditional suiting has long held fascination, with an enraptured audience indulging in her refreshing reissuing of mundane outfits. Blurring the lines between what constitutes masculinity and femininity forever consumes the discussions around her shows: wide neck tops, skinny-cut trousers, the overall quasi-feminine edges to her tailoring. She defies convention, certainly, but it's a pleasure to watch unfurl.

One can imagine men from Los Angeles to Lagos savouring the perennial grace and glory of Wales Bonner. There's a timelessness generally attributed to womenswear and seldom menswear that can be applied here. One could see a man archiving the crisp white double-breasted blazer with contrasting black buttons, it becoming a piece loaned to museum in the ensuing years. 

She designs beautiful clothing for men. Most men don't want beautiful clothing: they want ease, comfort, functionality, conformity to streetwear cultures and underground subcultures. There is minimal room for individuality but here we have a designer who is pioneering a different type of craft; it's characterised by an in-depth exploration of history, an indulgent decorative luxuriousness unmatched by other emerging brands and a focus on creating truly sublime artefacts to be found in a man's--or woman's--wardrobe. Grace Wales Bonner has the ability to manipulate minds: men who don't want exquisite clothing will be persuaded. A beaded biker jacket has never been so irresistible. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Meaning of the Red Carpet // Cannes Film Festival //

I have fond memories of being a blissfully ignorant twelve-year-old critiquing the fashion choices of the film and music industries' elite at red carpet events day in and day out. It was ridiculously facile and scarily reductive in hindsight. Having been exposed to the richness of Vanessa Friedman or Robin Givhan's red carpet dissections, as well as high-brow fashion criticism, I have a renewed interest in the field. The art of dressing up has, obviously, appealed to me and analysing it now, I discover depth and nuance which make it all the more interesting to discuss.

As many of us prepare for end of year exams, push towards end of quarter, prepare for the forthcoming summer, the film industry descends upon the ritzy Cannes, France for the annual Cannes Film Festival, perhaps the most highly regarded, exclusive film festival in the world. As a former red carpet fashion blogger, Cannes was flagged on the calendar as the most important social event of the season. Enriched by frothy ball gowns on lithely-crafted models and celebrities, highly skilled craftsmanship and emphasis on extravagance, the film festival provided an endless stream two weeks of couture dresses to discuss. There was a melange of anticipation, excitement and apprehension as each representative took to the carpet at the Palais des Festivals or at parties in the nearby town of Antibes. Unsurprisingly, there is a business of fashion at the festival. Brands establish camps in lavish hotels on the La Croisette where stylists to the über rich arrive to select outfits for their clients' engagements, of which there are many. Needless to say, hundreds of thousands of euros are spent on hiring impeccably-tailored gowns for a few hours... that's not to mention the jewellery.
In certain cases there will be celebrities on the red carpets sponsored by designers, beauty brands and tony jewellery houses. L'Oréal has been a partner of the festival for over a decade and annually deploys its spokespeople to appear on the Croisette and participate in promotional interviews. The likes of Blake Lively, Jane Fonda, Eva Longoria, Sonam Kapoor, Deepika Padukone appear on the Riviera for whistle-stop press tours, the cost of which is borne out of their employer's purse. Elsewhere, you have jewellery giants such as de Grisogono or Bulgari funding the attendance of models, actresses and musicians, to attend gala dinners, glamorous parties and glide down the red carpet. Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski, two stunning models with no relevancy on the Riviera took to the tapis rouge. There presence at the festival is promotion, for themselves and the jewellery company that has sponsored them to be there. Namely, Hadid is on duty for Dior Beauty, of which she is the global ambassador for. (Of course, this is the grey area Julie Zerbo's The Fashion Law is shedding light on with her incisive reportage.) 

This goes hand in hand with influencer culture's presence in the industry, proving Cannes to be a microcosm of the industry. The Chiara Ferragni and Aimee Songs of the fashion industry have film industry counterparts. Every year, noticeably ersatz and often intentionally attention-grabbing outfits emerge from the stylists of "starlets" such as Hofit Golan and Lady Victoria Harvey. Neither of them are esteemed actresses but rather they want their photograph to be taken. It's a business unto itself and there is undoubtedly a place for it in the film/fashion food chain; this is evident as they constantly reappear, each time bringing with them a new offbeat concoction which will attract headlines. It's a two-sided argument: on one hand you have it degrading the exclusivity of the event with their appearances' less-than-polished expression but on the other you have two women who express themselves proudly and unabashedly and want to be part of something--there's honour, respect and admiration to be found in that. 
The case against influencer culture is strengthened by the use of the red carpet for political statements. One recalls Salma Hayek in 2014. She was present at the festival to participate in talks on women in film for Kering, her husband's conglomerate and she graced the shutterbugs in a fuchsia dress by Gucci. However, it was not the elegant number which caught attention. It was the sign she held up on the famous steps, it read: Bring Back Our Girls. It was of course referencing the campaign for Nigerian warlord Boko Haram to return 300 abducted schoolgirls. Red carpet activism has proliferated in recent years with the Livia Firth-spearheaded Green Carpet Challenge campaign, the sporting of blue ribbons for the ACLA initiative "Stand with ACLA" that dominated this year's Academy Awards. Planned Parenthood were also advocated for by Hollywood's elite at this year's ceremony. I expect to see defiance from starlets this year in response to the racist ideologies of Marine Le Pen, French President Macron's opposition in the campaigning stages, and the infamous and impeachable President Trump who has drawn ire globally during his five months in office. 

It might come off as moronically pretentious but the state of the fashion industry is reflected on the red carpet. It's metaphorically a sign of the times with the industry's strength or weakness exposed to the world. (Fashion critics often forget the pervasive effect of red carpet imagery and how it saturates women's weekly titles and daily newspapers. It permeates popular culture, unquestionably.) In recent years, the festival has been unable tantalise or excite in any way. Simply put, the design reeked of mediocrity: cheap tailoring, poorly constructed garments and all around aesthetic discord, the clothes couldn't match the opulence or might of recent years. However, judging from the opening ceremony 2017 is set to be a good year. It has been energised by red carpet mavericks Jessica Chastain and Fan Bing Bing (the actress are also members of the jury--the judging panel which will select the Palme d'Or) and newcomer Elle Fanning. They usher the state of red carpet fashion from darkness into light, with the dawn of a new era in Cannes. Similarly, the fashion shows of late have been of higher quality. There is a general shift in mood, whereby the tumult of the world has compelled creatives to truly push boundaries. 

One may find the comparisons between the film and fashion industries surprising, although they are clear and precise in their similarities: both value exclusivity but also rouse debates over inclusivity vs exclusivity, is it right to only employ Insta-stars for marketing campaigns, are influencers deserving of their position; both are intended to be representative of the times. If fashion shows are deemed haughty, in a league of their own, the red carpet is it expressed in layman's terms. It simplifies the trends and presents them to the world in memorable ways--or at least that's what they aspire to do. Furthermore, it's purpose is to inspire and for the first time in forever, Cannes has given the world something to be inspired by, to aspire to. Just like old times.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Eudon Choi // Fall 2017 //

It isn't untrue that you could be presented with imagery from a day's worth of fashion shows and be unable to decipher what city they were from. Traditionally, New York has an unmistakable functionality; London, an eccentric's flair; poised tailoring or pizzazz in Milan; romance and opulence in Paris. Obviously there are notable exceptions which befuddle the eye's capacity to distinguish the city something belongs too. Day one of London Fashion Week, always one of the brightest, is swiftly determinable as London. February's instalment saw the inaugural show--Teatum Jones--features models of colour and represent people with disabilities, a noted first for fashion (but there'll more on that another time). There was the Central Saint Martins MA show at the BFC Show Space at The Store Studios (formerly known simply for its geographical location, the anonymous canvas, 180 The Strand). The venue was thronged by fashion devotees clamouring to sneak inside. Many remarked how it was like a scene from the 1990s and early 2000s when excitement in fashion reached its highest heights. 

Eudon Choi's show in the early afternoon was blissfully refreshing, to say the least. The South Korean-born, London-based designer's show had London written all over it. On first glance there was the recognisably diverse casting which celebrated inclusivity. Comparatively, other shows, in London and elsewhere, lack this positive approach and it hinders their success: Junya Watanabe's atrociously cast menswear shows are a prime example. 

As with last seasons, Choi embarked on a quest to collect cultural references to create clothing. He discovered the work of Austrian architect Alfred Loos, an artist and theorist who dissected ornamentation in modernist art and design. Choi has never been a surface decorator like many of his counterparts. He's interested in clean lines and fabric experimentation. He didn't push boundaries this season but presented a nuanced version of what we've come to expect. Textiles were richer, shapes were more intriguing. There was a sense that he wanted to expand his outerwear efforts by placing emphasis on layering in the styling. (In accordance with many others, Choi favoured a trans -seasonal approach with distinctly summery outfits in the fall collection. A slew of summer dresses and dark blue shirts, loose silhouetted trousers and exposed ankles not typically suited to the winter months were paraded on the runway. In particular, a ruffled, striped shirt paired with tangerine trousers stood out.)

There's always a cleanness to it, but it has been preoccupied by an uncertain wind of late. This was as though Choi had breathed in the Austrian air Loos consumed in his lifetime. It was crisply cool, serenely working the narrative and fabrication: an architecturally-inclined walk through a bustling city, a woman dressed for day-to-night, navigating her daily life, negotiating the simplest way possible also through the medium of clothing. They were facile, simplistic tropes that are borrowed from and manipulated time and time again. They are unoriginal and Choi did interact and explore their depths. However, as the Washington Post's Robin Givhan points out in the newest issue of System magazine in an extensive profile, “you don’t always need a long existentialist tale to justify beauty because beauty is quite enough.”

His sheer appreciation for women is often overlooked--unfairly--because of his business' contemporary level standing. Whether it's incorporating the work of female artists such as Saloua Raouda Choucair, Helen Frankenthaler, Francesca Woodman or assessing current trends and presenting them in artfully- and architecturally-inclined ways to enhance the lives of the wearer, there is an identifiable message: his clothes are a trusty means of transforming the quotidian into something beautiful and luxurious. He's got the fundamentals down. Perhaps now is the time to branch out. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Christian Dior // Resort 2018 //

Los Angeles, City of Angels. Maria Grazia Chiuri’s debut cruise show landed itself in the City of Stars but not in the traditional way. There was no recreation of the fabled La La Land or presentation in one of the city’s mightily-architected landmarks, but a défile in the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve in Calabasas—home of the Kardashians. The location of this show had been marked before Chiuri’s arrival but she interpreted the locale nonetheless. She was interested in the connotations of Los Angeles: health and wellbeing; peace, love and positivity; Old Hollywood film productions (the mountaintop setting was also used in Little House on the Prairie and Gone with the Wind). The American Southwest, imagery of prairies, the revered artist Georgia O Keeffe appeared elsewhere on her mood board.

There was undoubted appropriation of the classic fashion trope “bohemia”, in the show. (Many read this as cultural appropriation; others were quick to point out there was no insistence on exploiting indigenous culture.) It was reminiscent of the garments popularised and fetishised by revellers in Indio at Coachella. The everlasting allure of the desert and the barren terrains of America, the way it has been painted by film and fashion signals unforgettable symbolism that permeated the design process: skull and bones; rattlesnakes; fringing; cowboy boots and hats. It dipped into what Ralph Lauren does best, albeit with Dior-signature shapes. There weren’t many reinventions of Dior classics here, however. Perhaps the purpose was to sell the Sauvage perfume—its branding saturated the venue—and the clothes were the backdrop?   

The average luxury fashion consumer’s age is 53. High fashion often contradicts this with pitiful pandering to youths, through perfume sales and celebrity endorsements. For once, the collection reflected the eventual consumer… but that’s not to say it was positive. The clothes were rather frumpy, unflattering and unmistakably Valentino (pre- and post-her tenure with creative director Pier Paolo Piccioli). They were awfully drab and not even the illustrative animal embroideries and embellishments could save the collection. That isn’t to mention the borrowing of elements from Hedi Slimane’s LA-obsessed oeuvre that marked his final days at Saint Laurent. 

Chiuri’s Valentino efforts, comparatively, were spellbinding, bewitchingly and breathtakingly beautiful. They were unmatched in their clarity of expression, serenity and delicate craftsmanship. Dior has proved a challenging acclimatisation. One gathers that aside from attaching “woman empowerment” to everything she does—often without sufficient referencing in the actual clothes—there isn’t much to see here. (I am not discounting the O’Keeffe reference; her work has long been read as feminist art, much to her dismay.) The clothes will remain the same, it seems: Valentino-esqe, derivative and uninspired. She has to distinguish product from high-calibre fashion design; she was hired to do so. 
Vogue Runway

Friday, May 12, 2017

Prada // Resort 2018 //

“I prefer not to, although I sometimes decide to do it,” said Miuccia Prada in conversation with Raf Simons in eighth issue of System magazine on the subject of self-referencing. The latter half of that sentence is crucial as Mrs Prada did what she does best with her Resort 2018 show: contradict. (It was the first standalone women's pre-collection presentation from her; heretofore resort and pre-fall have been grouped with  menswear, although she is insistent it isn't about titles to her, "a show is a show.") Contradicting her own attitudes towards design is a prime example of a designer realising the relevance of past work today: the idea was to strive for modernism. How does the past influence the present? A pressing question, no less. Its answer came in the form of an homage to Spring 2008, a collection inspired by fairies. Yes, fairies.

The interpretation of fairies in September 2007 was much more of an allusion than a literal reference to the spritely, folkloric creature we read about. May 2017, almost ten years later, and it was about proposing a hyper-feminine modernism with tinges of sportswear and evening wear, a distinctively perverse comment on high fashion. The sportswear elements for Prada were about imbuing the show with youthfulness and modernity; there were black nylons used to convey this. Funnily enough, it was the label's mastery of this fabric that propelled them to mainstream success. The sportswear element contrasted sublimely with the sanguine saccharinity; it also prevented the collection from being an overload of frothy diaphaneity. 
Mining her own archive for inspiration proved for an inspired outing and it constantly addressed how the past informs the future. There were pieces reminiscent of the Fall 2013 Miu Miu collection (where she also considered the cross-pollination between sport and femininity); a peppering of Spring 2017's Chinoiserie feather embroideries was included in the show. Spring 2008's illustrations returned, a collaboration with James Jean. Hyper-femininity has never been something that has been of particular interest to Prada, she designs feminine dresses but they are never sickly sweet. However, that's not to say this collection lacked bite: it had plenty of it. There is a perversity to her interpretation of girlishness; dark colours contrast with light ones, creating a harsh, but pleasingly so, visual on the eyes. She examined where she succeeded previously and recreated that to varying degrees of success here.

Having read the conversation in System, you gather a greater sense of Mrs Prada's character and it explains her design ethos: she is driven by her own creativity; the role of women in society is something she holds dear and it is reflected in her work by the way she crafts a personal narrative in order to empower women through their clothes. Her former Communist-affiliations are only a testament to her egalitarian attitude. It's her innate understanding of women that makes her such a compelling designer. She knows what women want but she has a more impactful resource besides that: she knows what women don't know they want.

Vogue Runway

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Chanel // Resort 2017 //

It wasn't long before the fashion industry revved the engine on the great machine. With several jaunts to Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai, Tbilisi and Moscow in the interim between the big four in February and March to now, the cruise or resort season is upon us. To kickstart proceedings, as is tradition at this stage, Chanel were the inaugural show of the season. The usual geographical guessing game was at play in the run up to the show. It was finally revealed that Greece was on Karl Lagerfeld's mind. (He must be running out of countries at this stage.) 

The house's connection with Greece derives from a possession of Gabrielle Chanel's 1st-century ceramic of Venus to be found in her apartment on Rue Cambon. Furthermore, she served as costume designer for a 1922 play by Jean Cocteau, a then-modern reinterpretation of Sophocles' Antigone

Considering Greece's current financial predicament, it might strike one as peculiar that Lagerfeld would glamourise something problematic. Greece isn't all Sophocles, Acropolis (the large set that counted for the show space was modelled on the ancient citadel), exotic islands and the birth of the Olympic Games. Economic turmoil was triggered by the Great Recession, resulting in inability to repay debt; tax increases caused local riots and nationwide protests. Inevitable action was taken by European banks and governments. There is a bailout that will exceed €180 billion once the next loans are issued, on May 18. Economics isn't Lagerfeld's preoccupation--we learned this with his Cuba excursion, where a multi-billion dollar conglomerate arrived in a country where the average income is $3,000. Instead it is image Lagerfeld searches for, a tangible sense of place.
"Reality is of no interest to me. I use what I like. My Greece is an idea," Lagerfeld said to Alexander Fury, chief fashion correspondent to T Magazine: The New York Times Style. It's a perfect example of post-truth (described by the Oxford English Dictionary as  "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief"), the world we live in. It refers to the process of design too. It's likely that Lagerfeld didn't visit Athens to accumulate Hellenic references to build his collection, but rather a quick Google search, a film screening or two. It isn't about economic turmoil but the dreams and perceptions we hold onto—a classic case of manipulating appearance and reality.

The show was marked by vitality, effervescence and refreshment, three terms Chanel often desists from attracting. There is often a depression with the brand's creative output, where everything slumps and it's energy is wholly depleted before Lagerfeld's wizardry whips together a dynamic lineup of clothes. This was one of those collections, where it appeared an injection of zest didn't go amiss. There were abbreviated dresses, traditional emblems of Greek culture given the regal Chanel treatment. Every stereotype under the sun was considered: the decadent, fearsome warrior; the gold-clad goddesses; the soigné noblewomen. It oozed modernity for once. The moderately interesting gladiator sandals were engaging but it was the short party dresses that whisked me off my feet. They bore a lightness and effortlessness that symbolised an unsheathing of formality, an awakening of suppleness. The finale gown was a portrait of Aphrodite, a one-shouldered gown with intricately detailed sequin work on the waistband. 

Much fabled Greek mythology inspires endlessly. It is an appropriate influence that allegorically paints an image of both Chanel's status and the system of cruise/resort presentations. Greek gods are considered to be divine, the archetypal characters of their respective fields: god of the sky, goddess of love; they are higher beings with incredible powers. The scale of this presentation is indicative of Chanel's power as a fashion house and their ability to have fifty craftspeople spend four weeks constructing an Acropolis in the Grand Palais and transport hundreds of press figures to the show, free of charge. This idea of power and might extends to the entire pre-collection system in that it is all about flexing a business muscle, effectively shouting in the audience's faces that their revenue soars into skies of billions, which inevitably showers on and fertilises their creative endeavours. It allows Karl Lagerfeld, or anyone other designer with myriad possibilities thanks to money, to conceptualise projects such as this, repeatedly, and bear the same dreamy impact with every elaborate production. This season, Greece is the word... it also bears groove and feeling, it's a time, place, motion, the way we are feeling. Lagerfeld operates in a literal space, there are direct meanings, but his fashion design surprisingly offers something else, something deeper to ponder. And this season it also had groove and feeling.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Christopher Kane // Fall 2017 //

Christopher Kane's raison d'être is simple: his namesake label exists to push himself creatively, to imagine something new, something perverse. He's built a solid career out of striving to achieve newness and perversity; there's his flagship store on Mount Street, an e-commerce presence, a legion of loyal followers. His Fall 2017 collection was presented directly after his ten year anniversary, a remarkable feat for anyone in business. 

There's always a fascination, a preoccupation to be found within a Christopher Kane collection. Firstly, there's your emotional response instigated by the clothing which are mostly original, generally refreshing and engaging. Moreover, you have the designer's obsession with something, whether it is the slightly unhinged women of his childhood locale or the effect the late Louise Wilson OBE (his professor at Central Saint Martins) had on his career--something he continually feeds off. This season the audience were enchanted by a subdued colour palette, futuristic fabrication and decorative embellishment. Kane's mind wasn't rooted in anything specifically. A sign of the times, he was more interested in spontaneity, the beauty of instinct. 

Instinctual design has become the modus operandi of many in uncertain times, where nobody knows who they want to appeal to and are too frightened of a political message. Kane’s offering to the conversation was the proposal of haphazard shapes, artfully spliced fabrics and abstract styling. 

Although there weren’t many new ideas on display, Kane inhabited self-referential territory once again. The colour palette was a hybridised compounding of Spring 2012 and Spring 2013. Structured t-shirt dresses brought one back to Spring 2012 also, a modified reinterpretation of old favourites. Of late it has been outsider art that has punctuated Kane’s oeuvre. The distinctly instinctual artistic flairs of the movement have been imbued in his work since Spring 2016 when his work began to take a markedly more personal road, one less travelled hitherto. It’s presence was more subtle this season, more glamourised and commercial. The emphasis was placed on futurism, which brought one back to the luxurious fabrics of Fall 2015. However, it wasn’t as enrapturing as in previous outings.

One lay witness to overt commerciality, which didn't come as quite a surprise: this marked the first season Kane engaged with the 'see-now, buy-now' craze, which has already seen many designers abandon the format. There was a lack of conceptuality in the show, and it was sorely missed. It was interesting to see him deconstruct shapes and fashion new ones but it bordered on boredom in too many places. It was akin to an out of body brand experience, whereby the designer was present, the clothes were familiar but they were just clothes, not invigorated fashion. 
Vogue Runway

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Fragile Masculinity and Menswear

There is nothing more satisfying than a blistering take down of fragile masculinity, wouldn’t you agree? Commonly defined as “a term to describe the actions of men who are afraid of showing any physical or emotional bond to the men they are friends with”; moreover, it is the aversion to anything considered traditionally feminine, hence companies have to prescribe their products with stereotypical notions of gender—familiar with man size tissues? 

The fashion industry regularly reinforces the egos of men with fragile masculinities. Although he could covertly consume Bridget Jones novels or watch Eat, Pray, Love and blast Beyoncé in his car—three actions that would confusedly threaten his masculinity—he would be unable to conceal the pink hoodie he wears on the street. Consequently, fashion houses exist to present this customer with unlimited options. Aggressive masculinity, the image of a macho man has long been the traditional convention within men’s fashion. There are plentiful suiting options that cater to a long line of upper class men, but those are excusable—a job requirement for some. Looking at a brand like Versace one witnesses this engendering of boldly masculine designs which serves only those men and their attitude towards clothing. (How could one forget the oppressively masculine Spring 2013 collection, where the chiselled bodies of models were encased in gladiatorial uniform.) The abhorrent stylistic presence of Philipp Plein is manliness on acid—an overly-aggressive, tacky expression. Givenchy is another prime example: former creative director Ricardo Tisci religiously explored sports codes and exaggerated machismo within his designs. 
Why is it so important that fashion subverts notions of traditional masculinity? Simply, it has the power to do so. We often forget the immense power and influence fashion bears. They are the clothes we wear on our back after all. The trickle-down effect of high fashion to the high street is indelible; what is presented in New York, London, Milan and Paris eventually makes its way to the Topshops & H&Ms of the world in the form of unashamedly ersatz garments appropriating high fashion trends. The resurgence of pink on the high street has been noticeable—salmon, pale pink, dusty rose appear on sweatshirts, t-shirts and jackets and as it is considered fashionable, men have been warming to it. 

Perhaps its the influence of celebrity culture. Actor Jared Leto was excitingly Gucci-clad throughout the Suicide Squad promotional tour last summer; Alessandro Michele’s unorthodoxly maximal ideas unfolded on the red carpet, press stop after press stop, with the public keenly following what he would wear next. Rapper Young Thug has willingly toyed with his masculinity, wearing a frothy Molly Goddard tulle dress in his Dazed magazine cover shoot. (The perspective of a black man is particularly interesting because of the commonly homophobic lyrics buried in rap music and culture.) Jaden Smith, son of actor Will, controversially (it’s 2017!) starred in Louis Vuitton’s Spring 2017 womenswear campaign. Also, he electrified the pages of Vogue Korea dressed in womenswear. 
Grace Wales Bonner, London-based menswear designer, has built a career on dissecting and reframing black masculinity and dismantling its stereotypes. The men in her shows, comprised of models and artists and musicians, comfortably wear dresses on her runways, elaborately decorative pieces that are generally reserved for womenswear shows. Simultaneously exploring the whimsical dress of black history, Wales Bonner has galvanised menswear with her approach to design. It isn’t restricted by what men expect, but what they should come to expect. Similarly, the perspective of gay man Sebastiaan Pieter, at his eponymous label Pieter, is fascinating. His work isn’t punctuated by what society would have us believe a gay designer would be presenting—his work isn’t camp or cartoonish, it encompasses the machismo aesthetic but subverts it with tongue-in-cheek references to Grindr culture which, of course, repels those with a fragile masculinity. Wales Bonner and Pieter’s perspectives are essential to extending the dialogue, they make fashion that reaches everyone. 

It’s true to say everyone should be uplifted by their clothing. If someone feels good in something they should wear it more often. Dismantling fragile masculinity serves a purpose: it isn’t about encouraging all men to wear a Shocking pink Gucci suit, but to redefine traditional notions of masculinity and enable them to shamelessly don that suit; to disallow their virility from overshadowing their clothing choices. Freedom and acceptance are what we should strive for, don’t be bound by your fragile masculinity. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Rick Owens // Fall 2017 //

In the eyes of the layman Rick Owens’ designs can come across as obtrusive, standoffish, like a violent expressionistic painting. However, the designs and designer are so much more than that. There is an undeniable softness that defines his aesthetic—I remind myself of the celestial Spring 2013 collection, a personal favourite of mine from Owens; a blissfully beautiful and dreamily ethereal outing. Despite his exploration of the world around us of late, there has been a certain positivity found within his work. His shows aren’t elegies for the loss of stability in the world, rather distinctive reactions: how to prepare for turbulent times ahead, how does it reconfigure the way we dress.
Owens has long been unorthodox is his design approach. He doesn’t conform to instant wearability but artistic expressions of emotions. (His being the recipient of the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award at the upcoming CFDA Awards has been met with overwhelming positive reactions.) HIs Fall 2017 menswear show was self-described “earnest”; it was a preparation of sorts. The cocoon-like shapes used, the bulbous fabrics that encased the body shielded the body from the turbulence we are left to negotiate, for our daily navigation of uncertainty. 

Declaratively, doom has been the underlining mood of the past few shoes, albeit expressed with gentle yet wholly impactful force—the threat posed by humans to the environment; an imagined apocalypse. Owens wanted to move away from that. It was entitled ‘Glitter’, and as aforementioned was a hopeful distancing from the gloom of previous seasons. The colour palette reflected our planet, the vibrant array of hues present within it. There were bottle and wood greens, soft seafoam green, ochre and saffron, a washy taupe, moss. There was a balance of richness and softness, juxtaposed with the strength and purity of black and white. 

One hunched model captured the extent of the idea of protection—looking like the abstract manifestation of a backpacker; his exaggerated puffer jacket outfit and slouchy trousers belong amidst the trees, amongst a rocky ruck of mountainous terrain, traversing babbling brooks—away from the incessant beat of city life. Secondly, there was a conceptual proposition of a sojourner, escaping life as they know it, their belongings attached to their body. It strangely reminded one of a sleeping back, coupled with a handful of belongings.

The finale was dominated by black, a sobering, all-encompassing colour. (An unnamed journalist was overheard comparing one of them to Darth Vader.) Solemnity and soberness, and even sombreness, are Owens’ forte—the avant-garde creations on his runway are closely linked with those feelings. It was never swept away by its melancholy, rather it was charged by an iron-willed perseverance.

Vogue Runway

Friday, May 5, 2017

Simone Rocha // Fall 2017 //

Something that delighted at London Fashion Week in February was Simone Rocha’s insistence on celebrating women of all different ages. The Irish designer has the fashion industry swooning with each of her poetically-inclined, trend-resistant collections. For Fall 2017 she wanted to reflect her customer base, the women that shop in her flagship stores in London (on the tony Mount Street) and New York (in the calm, urban enclaves of Wooster Street in Soho) or in an array of international stockists. The age range on her runway was 17 upwards to 73. There was 29-year-old Alana Zimmer, 33-year-old Jamie Bochert, 50 year-old Cecilia Chancellor, 53-year-old Marie-Sophie Wilson, 73-year-old Benedetta Barzini.

But what does it mean? Is it pitiable attention-seeking or is it remarkably profound? One leans towards the latter as Rocha has never been a designer caught up in the social media maelstrom that other brands find themselves lost in. Her casting was suggestive of her customer base, what they might want to see. Motherhood has been a recurring theme in Rocha’s shows of late and no doubt she caters to many mothers, grandmothers. The ageless quality to her clothing is undeniable; this age-positive effort affirms it. These were the Simone Rocha women: younger, older, everything in between. 

The noteworthy casting isn’t to say they were compensating for the clothes, which simply weren't dull sales propositions. They extended the narrative that pervaded the past three seasons: ideas of blossoming, sensory experiences, the contrasts between masculinity and femininity, militaristic codes. In uncertain times, designers have resorted to sticking to their guns: certainty is sought after. Somehow, despite the past two collections’ tendency to refer to the one prior to the last and subtly implement new references, one can’t help but be whisked away by her spellbinding poetry. The artfully-inclined silhouettes and patterns are truly breathtaking. Perhaps the reaction is rooted in the designer’s honesty—Rocha is quoted in Tania Fares’ tome London Uprising, “when I’m designing, it has to mean something to me, otherwise, it’s just clothes. That’s always the joy of it, when things come together, and it means something so personal to me.” Furthermore, Rocha’s decision to extend the previous seasons symbolises stability in her business. Her distinct design handwriting has finally hit its stride: it’s consistent, plays upon traditional gender boundaries and is defined by an exquisite poetic language that is accessible and sincere. 

Bonded velvet biker jackets in khaki, twee smocked dresses in pearly white, embellished wrap dresses (to this critic, they expressed the notion of messiness, the tenet of motherhood explored two seasons ago) and embroidered tulle dresses took the runway at Lancaster House, the neoclassical mansion in St James where Rocha has presented for some time. The old-world glamour of a poppy-printed tulle dress was emphasised by the fur shawl that accompanied the look. It bridged the gap between young and old, it was as if the model was wearing her grandmother’s shawl.

Age is relative, youth a mindset—Rocha proved that with this smashing effort. She is London’s finest. 
Vogue Runway

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Mulberry // Fall 2017 //

Enlisting superstylist Lotta Volkova to work on your show not only means that your work will have a heightened sense of mundanity fetishised, it will also bear a significant attachment to Volkova’s cool, Soviet-influenced aesthetic. (Her mainstream success derived from styling Vetements shows in the early days; she works with Demna Gvasalia on his Balenciaga efforts too.) For the Fall 2017 season she made two separate appearances, removed from the Vetements/Balenciaga bubble: Mulberry in London, Emilio Pucci in Milan. Her collaboration with Mulberry began last season when the show had an unmistakable Vetements-isation. There was a certain quirkiness, an accentuation of slightly off shapes. The most obvious aesthetic borrowing came in the shape of exaggerated and breezy silhouettes that are linked closely with Vetements/Balenciaga.

Volkova’s indelible influence aside, creative director Johnny Coca can work from his own initiative. His recent outing was an exploration of British heritage from an outsider’s perspective; effectively, he placed his notions of British history on a pedestal and dissected it. He was looking at the British countryside, the Sloane Rangers of the 1970s, scenes outside David Bowie concerts, Princess Diana, Margaret Thatcher. Coalescing a litany of 80s reference points, the show was marked by sharp tailoring, wide shoulders, and a dialogue between rigour and ease. For every Princess Diana pussy-bow blouse fused with Margaret Thatcher authoritative dress, there was the elegant ease of a countrywoman. As the collection progressed it became less concerned with rigour and more inclined to express itself with sinuous, flowing shapes that were reminiscent of recent Balenciaga outings—particularly it was the eccentric floral-print dresses. 

This show was about shoes and bags. Coca arrived from Céline, where he worked as an accessories designer, just over a year ago. His appointment as creative director of an accessories brand was smart—the problem many fashion labels have is hiring designers with no previous accessories expertise. You look at what Salvatore Ferragamo has done, inspiring a new format: the womenswear, menswear and accessories divisions are run by different designers, to ensure their individual success. Coca’s ready-to-wear endeavours have been somewhat satisfactory but largely they lack a deeper meaning. However, I believe shareholders and customers alike will be enamoured by his handbags.

Styling is essential in cementing a show’s impact. For every great show, there is a great stylist behind it. Despite the indiscrete whiffs of Vetements/Balenciaga, this Mulberry collection pinpointed references that made for an interesting fashion show. There was a visually-appealing polish. It was styling mastery, to credit Volkova, as the clothes, despite their lack of meaning, proved to be extraordinarily confident and arresting. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Paco Rabanne // Fall 2017 //

With the revival of dormant fashion houses there is one task at hand: translating what the founding designer once pioneered to the modern day. In the past number of years, there has been reawakening or five across the fashion industry: Elsa Schiaparelli, the couture house returned to the couture schedule in 2014; Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant hit refresh on Courrèges in 2015… It’s been Julien Dossena’s assuming of the reins at Paco Rabanne that has made a strong case for new iterations of old brands from young designers. It was a much buzzed-about takeover prompted by his work experience, at Balenciaga under the influential Nicolas Ghesquière. Under Dossena the brand celebrated the arrival of a new store on Rue Cambon in Paris. 

Despite the press attention, Dossena’s work has never struck me as invigorating or inspired. The life he breathes into Paco Rabanne is characterised by futuristic sportswear, a more fluid approach to the scientific metalwork carried out by the founder. His stamp on the label has been a streamlining of the brand’s signature: chainmail. There is only so much, after all, you can do with it. For his Fall 2017 collection he explored potential fluidity within chainmail. How could it be softened effectively? Dossena found his answer in the lighter fabrication and looser silhouettes. The shimmering silver shone in the bright white lights of the show space. 
There was something inexplicably off with the styling in this show. There was a gold chainmail top styled with an ill-fitting skirt that made it look unquestionably mediocre. Reimagined dance costumes—referencing the 80s mood Dossena imbued the collection with—were underneath metallic fabrics, an odd mix of textures. Placed on their own and the effect would’ve been greater. Moreover, most looks were accessorised with large, obtrusive handbags; their size detracted from the overall impact of the look. Case in point: a silver bodysuit and grey trousers dampened with the addition of a heart-shaped purse in a marigold hue. 

The collection wasn’t all faults. Dossena’s expertise clearly lies with his sublime knitwear. Asymmetric sweater dresses, half-zips with fur-lined hoods and roomy coats were the show’s hallmarks. Without them it would’ve strayed into dangerous territory—a land where average clothing act as subterfuge for the accessories sales pitch that was underlining the show.

Universally praised as a searing show that electrified Paris Fashion Week, I felt myself lost in my own bafflement. There isn’t anything particularly galvanising about this—slouchiness became sloppiness, the tailoring wasn’t amazing and, most importantly, the chainmail wasn’t memorable or distinctly Paco Rabanne. 

Vogue Runway

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Dries van Noten // Fall 2017 //

It’s wholly lamentable, the shift of focus from craft to marketing campaigns in the fashion industry. Yesterday’s post subject Dolce & Gabbana, and their recent Fall 2017 menswear show, signified the general mood and cultural shift that unfurls before our eyes. There is someone, conversely, who we could count on to always present us with a vision that isn’t obstructed by a savvy marketing manager’s notions of relevancy: Dries van Noten, one of the Antwerp Six, the group of designers that emerged in the 1980s. 31 years later and his oeuvre is still punctuated by a cerebrally eclectic elegance that distinguished him from his minimalist-inclined counterparts. He doesn’t use advertising campaigns, out of sheer respect for his customer—he understands they’re already inundated with imagery, he doesn’t want to add to the avalanche of advertising.

To rely solely on craft almost strikes one as radical in 2017. We have become desensitised to Chanel constructing a rocket ship with the ability to blast off or Anya Hindmarch having the Rocky Mountains fill her show space, Tommy Hilfiger transporting his clients to Venice Beach in Los Angeles or Dior taking their couture to Tokyo. These are evasive tactics, as I wrote yesterday. Mr. van Noten opts not to hide behind the facade of fashion as entertainment, but his collections are compelling and entertaining nonetheless.

Marking his 99th collection at men’s fashion week in January, in Paris, the Belgian brought back some staples and reworked or reissued them. He wanted to show what was relevant ten years ago is still contemporaneous, and considered modern. It was amusing to read Lou Stoppard’s report, in which she remarked how a young journalist backstage likened the exaggerated tailoring of his suiting to that of Vetements and the recent revival of pronounced shapes… van Noten noted he had designed the piece in 2008. 

It is slightly off to call a show a ‘greatest hits’ collection because it conjures connotations to a CD one might find in their mother’s glove compartment, where the songs are the most popular rather than a neatly curated selection of the best songs. Van Noten directed his show in the direction of the more sombre elements that have permeated his work. Darker hues were predominant—blacks, greys, livid reds. There were whiffs of the punk movement—the violent reds, to this critic, were a contained expression of anger. The show’s mood—although celebrating the 99th show it wasn’t celebratory. Designed in the aftermath of the US presidential election, perhaps spirits weren’t high.

With just over thirty years of experience one hopes that there are another thirty in the making. Fashion is deserving of someone like Dries van Noten. He is a reminder, of sorts. Firstly, he symbolises what fashion used to be; although change is necessary, emphasis should be placed on craft seeing as that what the industry is about. Furthermore, he doesn’t conform to the marketing strategies set forth by every brand under the sun. Finally, his tactile poetry allows us to calmly assess and appreciate the beautiful things in life.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Dolce & Gabbana // Fall 2017 // Menswear

There were days when celebrities exhibited feats of fashion design on the red carpets they dominated, then arrived times where they were perched front row at fashion shows, and now they walk the runway productions they once watched. Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have well and truly engaged with celebrity culture in recent seasons with a pitiful attempt at remaining relevant in an industry with short attention spans. They recruited Bieber-lite Austin Mahone to perform live on the runway as the models made their exits; the casting was a lineup of Insta-stars, famous offsprings and relatives including Luka Sabbat, Lucky Blue Smith, Cameron Dallas, Jim Chapman, Marcus Butler, Rafferty Law, Presley Gerber, Levi Dylan. (Needless to say they inspired hundreds of hopelessly devoted teenage girls to throng to the venue's exits.)

If we are to look at this from fashion’s traditional perspective—an elitist viewpoint—one immediately jumps to lambasting the show for eviscerating the integrity of the fashion show. Fashion shows are walked by models—a profession not to be demarcated by moneyed teenagers that dominate Instagram feeds. Fashion exists in a dream world, removed from the quotidian—deploying Insta-stars on the runway is too connected with mundanity and it shatters the final pillar of industry respectability. Advertising campaigns, magazine covers, front rows have already been conquered by celebrity culture, and it appears now that the show format has been too.   

Comparatively, there is the possibility that the inclusivity of the show is paramount. The boys used in this show represent different nationalities, sexual orientations and social profiles. Similarly the girls cast in the show—including Sofia Richie, Sistine Stallone and Imogen Waterhouse—are representative of different body types, heights. Their casting isn’t restricted by traditional beauty standards, which is positive in itself. The models chosen in the show carried out interviews backstage with members of the international press. One sentiment echoed throughout the questionnaires was that the clothes made the subjects feel good. The majority commented how they were permitted to style their own looks, hence suffusing the collection with a decidedly individualistic meaningfulness.

It’s true to say the brand’s intentions are open to interpretation. But the purpose of the show is to present clothing, and we haven’t yet discussed that. It was a classic case of utilising evasive tactics to detract from the clothes which, expectedly, were much of the same. Aesthetics haven’t progressed, nor should we expect them too. Men and women who shop at Dolce & Gabbana are there for opulent odes to Italy with a focus on family and a penchant for prettiness—although that’s subjective. Noticeably, 18th-century grandeur was emphasised; elaborate patterns, finely formal suiting. Additionally there was a sportswear element that cemented athleisure’s permanence in men’s collections; here, however, it prioritised luxury and polish, as opposed to a garment useful for exercising: the veneer of athleticism, sporting attitudes are more important than the actual act of exercising. Of the 112 show looks, one grew tired of the brocade suits after their fifteenth exit. 

In a way this show democratised fashion and in another it tarnished it. In short, it was a messy effort, one too concerned with selling perfume to its cast’s legion of followers. It’s a mutually beneficial endeavour and if anything, it’s suggestive of what the fashion industry has become: a marketing mill, where product comes first and craft places second. All that inspires is sombreness.