Monday, December 3, 2018

Versace Takes America for Pre-Fall 2019

In a darkened space at the New York Stock Exchange, a golden torch-bearing hand stood, an obvious reference to the Statue of Liberty. Versace took their Pre-Fall 2019 collection to America. 

In September 2018, the American company Capri Holdings Group, renamed from Michael Kors Holdings Group, acquired the Italian brand, led by Donatella Versace’s design initiative and CEO Gian Giacomo Ferraris, for $2.1 billion. The move sent shockwaves across the industry as it affirmed Kors’ position as a key player in the international luxury conglomerate arena.

The night before the Versace show—in Brooklyn, Alexander Wang further explored his Chinese-American heritage, and Chanel will soon follow, where Karl Lagerfeld will elaborate on America’s relationship with the house, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

She harked back to the days of chintzy prints, neons, and animalia. It was a tale of excess. Bold prints, ostentatious colours, and luxe fabrics. It convincingly paid homage to Gianni Versace, the founder.

Of late, Donatella Versace has relied heavily on the codes of the brand’s past. In the past year, she has mined the brand’s archives more than she has invented modern interpretations of the brand’s history.

One could argue she’s unearthing the roots of the brand to assert its significance to a younger, emerging market of consumers. Others could conjecture that the nostalgia-tinged collections are a marketing tool. Look no further than the relaunch of Prada’s Linea Rossa to see the fashion industry’s wager on 90s culture as a commercial proposition. Versace recalled the slinky black gown, fashioned with gold safety pins, that Elizabeth Hurley wore in 1994, and the shape of the gown Jennifer Lopez wore to the Grammys in 2000. Moreover, the introduction of trainers, for men and women, was an unsubtle move.

Another obvious ploy? A t-shirt, the ‘I NY’ typography was emblazoned on the Versace logo, signifying the marriage between the American and Italian brands. But the image, a symbol of capitalism, reinforced something else about the collection: in 2018, money has more currency than creativity in the fashion industry. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

#ThisIsNotConsent - the Cork Trial, Consent, and the Spring 2019 Shows

“Does the evidence out rule the possibility that she was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone? You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front.” 

Those were the words from a barrister following a recent alleged sexual assault case in the Central Criminal Court in Ireland. Rallies took place across the country in protest against victim blaming yesterday. The vocal response to the trial comes after the man accused was found not guilty and the barrister touted a victim blaming stance. 

Many women have posted images of their underwear to social media with the hashtag #ThisIsNotConsent. An Irish opposition leader, TD Ruth Coppinger displayed a thong in the Dáil, Ireland’s lower house of government, calling for an end to “routine victim blaming.”

It’s in times like this when the politics of one’s appearance enters an arena larger than the one originally intended. One thing should remain clear in all of this, there is no such thing as dressing like you’re asking for it. Consent is not a revealing dress. Consent is not a lace thong.

When the spring 2019 runway shows unfurled two months ago the biggest questions raised were those surrounding the portrayal of women. How should designers present women in a world which often fails to honour and represent them in the way it does men? Should designers adhere to a strict code of dressing women in protective layers of luxurious fabrics? Does the notion of dressing in an outwardly revealing fashion belong to a bygone era?  The language of how women present themselves was embedded in the narrative, whether designers looked to the beach for inspiration or if they issued direct feminist declarations. It was unavoidable.

The designers responded in different ways. Chiefly, during Paris Fashion Week, the landscape became increasingly fraught. The spring 2019 shows unfolded during Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony at Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Blasey Ford alleged that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both teenagers in 1982. 

Anthony Vaccarello presented a collection for Saint Laurent, two days before Blasey Ford’s testimony, which exuded sexuality. The New York Times’ Vanessa Friedman heralded it “the second coming of sex” but continued that “showing the most leg, the most cleavage, the most sheer, made for a revolutionary statement back in the 20th century, but not a particularly nuanced or relevant one in the 21st.” It was replete with abbreviated hemlines, plunging necklines, and sheer fabrics. 

Elsewhere during Paris Fashion Week, artistic director Hedi Slimane’s debut for Celine featured mini dresses aplenty. Largely, the female models sported more exposed looks while the men were attired in polished tailoring. It was criticised for objectifying women, treating them in an unfair, unequal light that their male counterparts didn’t face.

The conversations both Saint Laurent and Celine instigated, however, stretched further than those around the representation of women. 

When framed in what society considers to be a hyper-sexualised context—an expression of female physicality—women are subject to much more than the judgement of their fashion statements. They aren't 'asking for it' but that's how it can be viewed. Legal professionals can use women's attire as a means of supporting arguments, engendering victim blaming in the legal system, and claiming victory in court cases. 

It's possible your clothing can be weaponised and used against you. Should dressing for a party or a night on the town be a political act? Should one consider the consequences of one’s outfit choice? The answer is a resounding no. Undoubtedly, what a woman wears revolves entirely around her bodily autonomy and her self-expression. But it appears, the shorter the hemline, the sheerer the fabric, the more likely women are to be subject to society’s sartorial despotism. How wrong is that?

Monday, November 12, 2018

Bdluxed Understands the Irish Woman

Beth Haughton’s restaurant, Dockland, which she co-owns with her husband, Harold Lynch, was filled with colourful rails of clothing. It was the second day of her Bdluxed pop-up shop in Cork City.

“I love colour,” Haughton said, surveying a flotilla of chartreuse, fuchsia, turquoise, and peach separates.  “I think people were scared of colour. For years and years, people only wore black or grey. I think it’s changing now because when you wear the right shade it can do everything for your skin.” There is no black or grey in sight. The darkest the palette becomes is midnight blue.

“The collection was built around the idea of separates,” she said. “I like the idea that people could wear it in lots of different ways, it’s something that is feminine but sexy and grown up at the same time using beautiful fabrics and colour.” The resulting line of multi-purpose, handmade silk separates prioritises the functionality that respects the fast pace of modern life. Everything is washable. The tops come in carefully considered permutations which can be worn in whichever way the wearer desires. “They’re pieces you can do a lot with and depend on your lifestyle.” 

Bdluxed started four years ago with a trip to India. Haughton and her friend, Deirdre, travelled to Mumbai, India for over two weeks. She made contact with the Irish Trade Board in India upon arrival. They connected her with members of the Indian fashion industry who introduced them to markets and silk shops. They trawled souks to source fabrics and inspiration. They returned with the foundations of the brand. 

The fabrication has changed over the four years. The first collection was produced in India. Production was then moved to Tunisia, to the same factories that work with Marc Jacobs and Burberry. Haughton described the process as “hands-on” but “fun”, collaborating with a group of hard-working women in the Tunisian desert. Resort 2019, the collection on show in Dockland, was made in China. “The collection is much more expensive to produce because I’m not mass-producing. Also, because I like colour, I’m not asking for four or five styles, I’m asking for thirteen or fourteen.”

Haughton earned her stripes at Camouflage, a Cork boutique, in the 1980s. She launched her standalone store, Beth, in Douglas Court Shopping Centre, a retail hub twenty minutes outside of the city centre which allowed her to develop a profile. She moved the boutique a stone’s throw away to East Village, also in Douglas, before taking the store to town. It closed in July 2009, preempting its demise in the wake of the economic downturn in Ireland. 

The designs presented in Dockland were the first sample of resort 2019. They will eventually be sold in Olori, a small boutique on Oliver Plunkett Street in Cork City, and Nina, a shop in Barnes, outside London. For now, the operation is quite small but this doesn’t daunt Haughton who is intentionally controlling everything from production to selling herself. “I want to keep it to myself while I’m learning what works and what doesn’t.”

The customers who shopped at Beth are returning to support Haughton’s latest venture. They have been with Bdluxed since the start. “I think the difference between yesterday’s pop-up and the last one was that people coming in were focused on what they were looking for. I had previous customers who were returning because they wanted a certain style they like wearing but in a different colour.”

The other aspect of Bdluxed is a bespoke jewellery line. “Everything is handmade by me. Everything is a one-off piece because I like doing things that are different. They’re deliberately odd pairings.” She composes earrings and necklaces using Swarovski crystals and she works with a Parisian company, which collaborates with major Parisian houses, on the finishing touches for her pieces.

What’s next for Bdluxed? Haughton is hoping to get an agent in London to open the line to a new market. Following on from that, wholesale and e-commerce are on the cards. But the conclusion one can draw from her attitude towards the fashion industry is that she won’t succumb to the breakneck speed of the industry.

Juggling a successful restaurant and fledgling clothing line, one must ask if it’s difficult to manage? “No, I’m used to multitasking and I’m not afraid of hard work.”

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Creatures of the Wind Alum, Christopher Peters Launches CDLM

Dover Street Market opened its Los Angeles outpost last weekend. One of the labels launched there was Christopher Peter’s new title, CDLM. (The name derives from “Cueva de las Manos” or “cave of the hands”, the same name as cave painting Peters likes.) He debuted it at the Peter Freeman Gallery in Lower Manhattan during New York Fashion Week in September. 

Peters is no stranger to the fashion industry. He co-designed Creatures of the Wind, another New York brand with his partner, Shane Gabier for 11 years. Creatures of the Wind still exists but only operates on a project-related basis. The duo decided it was time to develop solo ventures. Gabier is focusing on furniture while Peters directs his attention to CDLM, a unisex label which repurposes deadstock fabrics. He collaborates with a network of vintage stores across America to source fabric for production.

His solo outing featured casting by Midland Agency which street casts faces in New York. (Eckhaus Latta, Hood by Air have also consulted the agency.) Actress and editor, Tavi Gevinson, and poet John Giorno were among the models in this show. They walked in circles alongside a coterie of unknown faces.

The clothes were decent if a little staid. He played with punk influences and dandy styles. Elsewhere, he reworked Polo Ralph Lauren hoodies and Oakland Raiders varsity jackets. (The use of Polo called to mind a milder version of Miguel Adrover’s manipulation of the Burberry check in 2000.) It also holds some cultural capital, what with the recent announcement of the Palace and Polo Ralph Lauren collaboration. The menswear approach didn’t define the collection, nor does Peters want it to. He told Vogue the collection is for everybody. CDLM can be added to the list of progressive brands foregoing gender constructs without it being the principal focus. Genderless fashion isn’t so much a concept as it is a reality for Peters’ generation. 

The strengths were the designer’s articulation of both tailoring and consignment store fashion in the same collection in a distinct manner without it losing touch with the overall mood. But next season, it would be nice to see him push the envelope a bit more. The debut played it safe: old fabrics but no new ideas.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Marques'Almeida's Paris Debut is an Optimistic Message of Pre-Brexit Community Spirit

Marques’Almeida decamped from London Fashion Week to Paris for the spring 2019 shows in September. To their advantage, they will have greater access to the buying market. The disadvantage, undoubtedly, is the press attention they’ll lose to the big advertisers, like Dior, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton. Alas, the show must go on. It took place at the Palais de Tokyo. The starting point for designers Marta Marques and Paolo Almeida was to “use the roots which are secured in the brand to experiment with change, open up new roots and find new ways to move forward,” read the show notes. They updated their denim offering with aprons and subverted prairie dresses. They added fringing to louche silk dresses and tunics and featured a host of hoodies. They’ve mastered the art of imbuing the haute-urban aesthetic with a playful, feminine frisson.  

At present, Marques and Almeida are producing relatively accessible garments which, thanks to their sense of community, are connecting with a youthful audience. (This was made possible when they collected the LVMH Prize in 2015.) One needn’t look any further than the models who walked in the show to see their attitudes. Friends of the brand, magazine editors and models. The diverse casting skewered ethnic background and shape. Their aim is to “be the brand that can lead real change by focusing around its people.” 

It is a widely-shared opinion amongst the British fashion industry that the threat of Brexit to business and the free movement of persons poses a threat to the fashion industry. In an increasingly divided world, Marques and Almeida’s optimistic message of community spirit and inclusivity felt as much relevant to today’s politics as it does to the brand’s vision.

Despite the discord between their designs and the connotations of Paris Fashion Week, perhaps it makes sense for them to show in Paris: London-based, Portuguese designers showing in Paris, France. (They even acknowledged the underlying Portuguese sensibility present in the collection, possibly denoting the “self-deprecating”, awkward quality to the silhouettes.) Fashion is a global industry and Marques’Almeida is hoping it’ll stay that way.
Photo Credit: voguerunway

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

First Look at Kris van Assche's Berluti // Spring 2019

The lookbook for Kris van Assche’s debut for Berluti has arrived. It comprises of the kind of slightly detached, darkly romantic tailoring one can expect from the Belgian designer.

In April, van Assche was appointed the artistic director. He succeeds a fellow Belgian, Haider Ackermann, who, in his brief stint from 2016 to 2018, ushered in a reign of sumptuous, A promotional campaign photographed by Jamie Hawkesworth released in August was our first glimpse at his vision for the French house and the new logo. His full vision will be unveiled at Paris Fashion Week in January 2019. 

The promotional campaign featured shirtless doe-eyed teenage boys with shoes hanging from their shoulders or draped around their necks. The focus is squarely on the accessories. As it is for spring 2019 when he updated the house’s styles. 

Perhaps most interestingly, he introduces leather trainers which are, undoubtedly, an attempt at connecting with a younger consumer. They’re decidedly retro and in shades of scarlet and cobalt. But they made one think about Vanessa Friedman’s recent article in the New York Times about the zenith of sneakers in fashion: “When designers are making a sneaker just because they think they have to make a sneaker — because they are trying to carve off whatever slice of the sneaker market is possible — as opposed to because it makes sense for their brand, or their shopper, it’s time to stop.” Do sneakers make sense for the Berluti customer? Is there any real need for them other than maintaining an air of contemporary necessity?

Van Assche, a Belgian designer, served 11 years at the helm of Dior Homme. It was there he developed the aesthetic language of his predecessor Hedi Slimane. It was darkly romantic and consisted of rigorous tailoring. He furthered that image here, a cold departure from the warmth of Haider Ackermann’s preferred palette. For spring, he opted for a palette-cleansing melange of black, white, navy and red. The relative simplicity allowed one to focus on the fine tailoring. Even the tracksuit he had to offer was impeccably rendered by the house’s tailors.

Van Assche’s debut had fetishistic undercurrents. Leather trousers and baker boy caps recalled the homoerotic portraiture of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. The nods were discreet and subtle which are possibly definable as the house’s codes.

Berluti’s identity as a fashion house is, as of now, relatively malleable. Ackermann spent only three seasons at the house. Before him, there was Alessandro Sartori but if you were to ask this critic to recall his work, he would be stunted. Berluti is arguably a blank slate. Van Assche has the luxury of shaping the brand’s contemporary image.

Photo Credit: Vogue Runway

Monday, October 29, 2018

David Koma Stands the Test of Time

“The cinematic universe of Pedro Almodóvar creates the frame for spring 2019,” were the words that introduced David Koma’s latest effort at London Fashion Week in September. Inspired by the “atmospheric moods” of the director’s films, Koma embarked on a Spanish narrative that began with Almodóvar and brought him to flamenco. Evoking the “grace and drama” of dancers such as Carmen Amaya, Koma conjured shapes and forms which created a kinetic movement as the models whizzed past. The emphasis was placed on physicality, as it always is in a David Koma show, and this season, it underscored the athletic influences which underpin much of his work.

Koma spent four years designing at Mugler. The Georgian designer exited the brand in late 2017 to focus on his eponymous label. He exhibited a prowess for managing the expectations of the storied house’s modern iteration. It was a collaboration that lent itself to his own design handwriting which has since evolved into a balance between sophistication and sensuality, elegance and sexiness. A blazer dress in neon green and a white mini dress, embellished with plexi-discs, stood out as prime examples.

Koma distinguished himself from his London peers in his approach to fashion. Roksanda and Erdem sought the patronage of the soigné dames, Christopher Kane and Mary Katrantzou purveyed artful territories. Koma was unabashed in his desire to acquaint himself with the fabulous, partying proclivities of the super-rich.

In a London fashion scene which primarily rewards the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed youth and the eccentric, his longevity is a testament to shrewd business decisions and an ability to connect with the celebrity set and his customers. The introduction of evening gowns, shimmering chainmail columns, or his updated polished tailoring is sure to go down a treat with his fans. 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Introducing Castanea, the Irish Luxury Knitwear Brand

One of the key aspects of Irish design is knitwear. Increasingly, there is a surge of knitwear designers cropping up across the country including Paula Marron’s Castanea. Now in its fourth season, Castanea's gambit is cashmere sweaters manufactured in Kathmandu, Nepal.

I met Marron at Samui, an independent luxury fashion retailer on Cork’s Drawbridge Street. She was in Cork to sell her spring 2019 collection. Marron was sporting a handmade marigold cashmere sweater from the collection replete with flamenco-influenced ruffled sleeves and fine-finishing.

Castanea’s retail presence is limited to three Irish stores: Samui in Cork, Havana in Dublin, and Emporium Kalu in Naas, Co. Kildare. There is also a direct-to-consumer channel on Castanea's website. 

"Paula is Irish and it is hugely important to support Irish design where possible,” said Mary-Claire O’Sullivan, store manager at Samui in Cork. “We find Paula to be a designer of great integrity who chooses the finest cashmere to create a luxurious, contemporary edit every season.”

“She is not afraid to work with colour and we find that our customers react really well to this. For example, for fall 2018 she used rich berry tones and vibrant red while also showing subtle hazy blues and blush pinks,” said O’Sullivan.

“We are delighted to be one of only a few stockists in Ireland. We are confident that Castanea is one of the best cashmere labels. It does not pill, which is essential for any cashmere brand we stock. The knits are super stylish and cosy. We have built up a great repeat business with it,” said Nikki Creedon, the owner at Havana in Donnybrook, Co. Dublin. 

The limited retail presence is a strategic move. “I’m hoping to sell to two more Irish stores and that will be all for Irish retail. I want to maintain a level of exclusivity,” Marron explained. Ultimately, this means smaller sales but modern day designers are willing to place a price on brand image.

Marron graduated from the National College of Art & Design, Dublin, in 2004. She spent the summer interning at Ralph Lauren in London, across multiple departments, including PR. She declined an offer to join the London PR team, reasoning, “if I went down that route I would’ve never returned to design.” From there, she worked closely with the late Rachel Mackay in Dublin before joining knitwear brand Sphere One, where she remained for ten years. “I learned a lot. I wouldn’t be where I am today without that experience.” 

She founded Castanea during Fall 2017, almost two years ago, following her departure from Sphere One. Castanea is Latin for chestnut. “I always wanted to launch my own line. I had enough experience in fashion design to finally do my own thing. I think [the Castanea] woman is young at heart, even though the prices aren’t,” she said. Prices range from €395 to €725. "I can imagine a cool, stylish 60-year-old woman wearing it but also someone in their thirties. It’s broad." 

“I always knew I wanted to work with the manufacturer in Nepal. He is a great person and he treats his workers fairly. The quality of the craftsmanship from knitting to washing to finish is excellent." She motioned to her sweater, remarking, “it’s hard to come across this level of craftsmanship anywhere else.”

Would she consider manufacturing in Ireland? “I haven’t really thought about it but it’s incredibly expensive, now more than ever, to manufacture in Ireland.”

The rail she presented to O’Sullivan at Samui consisted of a sun-kissed pastel colour palette informed by her time spent in Spain. “I got engaged last year in Spain and I visit there quite a lot so there were a lot of Spanish influences in the collection,” Marron said. “I was inspired by the movement of flamenco dancers which influenced the ruffles on sleeves.” 

“I’m always inspired by architecture,” she said. She took cues from the Jürgen Mayer-designed Metropol Parasol at La Encarnación square in Seville. “It’s this brilliant modern, mushroom-shaped structure in the centre of Seville which has spectacular views of the city. I recreated the honeycomb shapes of the building in the designs.” 

Castanea is a work in progress. At present, Marron is the only employee. She works with a financial advisor but the responsibilities of day-to-day business rest on her shoulders. The next step could be international expansion. “I’m hoping to launch in America soon, I’m currently looking for an agent over there.” The Irish fashion industry’s presence in America has proliferated due to Margaret Molloy’s continuous effort with the Wearing Irish initiative which showcased Irish designers to the American market.

“I do everything myself. I would love to take on an intern but I’m too busy to even dedicate time to explaining what would need to be done. You have to work on it every day. It becomes your life,” Marron said.

In a March 2018 interview with the Irish Times’ The Gloss supplement, Marron described cashmere as “the Rolls Royce of yarn.” For spring 2019 she introduced silk-cashmere blends. She doesn’t envision expanding greatly beyond cashmere, at least for now. “You don’t really want to go back from the Rolls Royce.” 

Photo Credit: Paula Marron

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Gayeon Lee's Homage to Egon Schiele Scratches the Surface

Gayeon Lee’s spring 2019 show at London Fashion Week was influenced by Egon Schiele’s figurative illustrations. Perhaps she had seen the ‘Life in Motion: Egon Schiele/Francesca Woodman’ exhibition at the Tate Liverpool this summer. Lee kept things subtle—there were no overt references to Schiele’s inclination for the nude form or surrealist intimacy. Rather, she set out to construct a collection surrounding “twisted shapes and movement.”

Glen Snowden, a ballet tutor at Central Saint Martins, choreographed a dance which featured professional ballet dancers and models. (Read: the models weren’t as awkward as they usually are when shows offer something more than the formulaic procession. A victory for performance in fashion.)

With a staid interpretation of 50s fashion silhouettes, in parts, she failed to capture frisson of effervescence the balletic procession promised—chiefly, a pleated beige skirt and petunia-print blouse with striped sleeves. The tailoring fared much better but there weren’t enough examples of it here.

Lee should consider intimately acquainting us with her interests next time. Her homage to Schiele barely scratched the surface.
Photo Credit: Gayeon Lee

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The 221-Year-Old Brand Showing at London Fashion Week

With the exception of Burberry, legacy brands aren’t commonplace in London. London Fashion Week glorifies the aforementioned emerging talents who dominate headlines with their creative outbursts and undiluted expression. But, in between the Matty Bovan and Xiao Li shows in September, two veritable newcomers, the Johnstons of Elgin presentation was thronged with guests sipping champagne and indulging in a serene summer scene at the luxe Waldorf Hilton, Aldwych. 

Johnstons of Elgin turned 221-years-old in 2018. The Scottish cashmere clothing brand outpaces the collective years of hordes of emerging talent dotted around London during fashion week.

“It is an honour to return to London Fashion Week for a second season,” said creative director Alan Scott. “This unique collection, lovingly made in Scotland, retains our signatures of textile expertise, craft, and tailoring.”
Photo Credit: The Upcoming

In terms of ideas or creative responses to the state of global affairs, the fashion pack won’t flock to Johnstons. But that’s not the point—they’ve outlasted a myriad of designers: the show serves to communicate the brand’s message to the social media. 

Scott designed twenty looks for the presentation inspired by Ischia, the Italian island. It convincingly belonged to the leisure class and their yachting proclivities. It contributed to the escapism trend which swept the spring collections but it didn’t break new ground. He kept things light and airy in a seasonless effort which strived for mass-appealability. There were fishnet knits, draped gowns, and elegant swimwear. For the men, there were citrus-coloured polo shirts in cashmere silk and bomber jackets.

The brand manufactures its cashmere at their mill in Elgin, Scotland, on the banks of the River Lossie. The knitwear is created in Hawick, Scotland. Of course, like many other brands, there was the sustainability proviso. They collaborated with the Sustainable Fibre Alliance, a non-profit organisation working with the cashmere supply chain.

Perhaps they could lend their expertise to the upcoming labels at London Fashion Week. Engaging with emerging designers and assisting them with production could bolster their credibility amongst the younger generation but also boost brand profile in the digital age. 

Friday, October 19, 2018

Fashionable Optimism at Minki

Minki Cheng is from Hong Kong but research for his Spring 2019 presentation, shown at London Fashion Week in September, brought him to Lagos, Nigeria. He sought inspiration from Lorenzo Vitturi book Money Must Be Made, in which photographer Vitturi documented the panoply of colour in the Balogun Market on Lagos Island.  

Thomas Bird’s set design at the show consisted of baskets, exercise balls, chairs, kites and balloons, rendered in every imaginable colour on the spectrum. It posed a childlike counterpoint to the clothes which were for the most part, despite the bold colouration, rather elegant and considered. 
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Agency Eleven

The show notes emphasised “the market is eclectic; selling an absurd amount of variegated goods with a constant flow of people, voices, styles, and gestures. The ‘randomness’ creates an exciting and edgy visual.” This rhetoric corresponded to patchwork jackets, nylon dresses, and raincoats, jelly sandals, and oversized bow-accented headbands. 

Randomness often inspires chaos and this collection had that. However, because this was a presentation, where models stood sentinel, you could inspect the details, find the calm. ‘Ascalea’- and ‘cyathea’-emblazoned sweaters—references to fauna— were random and didn’t make much sense. They could’ve taken the more predictable root, opting for ‘Minki,’ something which would’ve increased brand awareness. After all, this is a fledgling label.

If this was a runway, it wouldn’t have worked. If it was a catwalk show, you would’ve missed the inventive reverse indigo denim jackets with visible interior panels or the saleable, multi-coloured, striped collarless shirts with roomy trousers in a shade of ivory. Those were the selling points but they were examples of how to pump joie de vivre into a sophisticated summer wardrobe. 

Michael Kors spoke about ‘fashion Xanax,’ at his New York show, denoting fashion that assuages the fears and furies of contemporary culture—Cheng’s work landed on that same school of thought: optimism and jubilance prevail. There was a diverse cast to solidify his message.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Paul Costelloe's Song for Another Era

One could hazard a guess that Paul Costelloe went to see Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again this summer. At his Spring 2019 presentation during London Fashion Week in September, the show opened with the songs ‘Andante Andante’ and closed with ‘When I Kissed the Teacher,’ both of which appeared in the summer blockbuster. 

The clothes had nothing to do with Mamma Mia, though. It was a “self-indulgent” passion project, as he told the Irish Times’ Deirdre McQuillan after the show. Fun. Just fun. Notwithstanding the slightly confusing musical accoutrements, this wasn’t a pantomime.

Costelloe melded the lives of the party girl, the businesswoman, and the ladies-who-lunch. The clothes he imagined for them will be made-to-order in his London studio. It’s all for the show. The main source of income for brand Costelloe is the licensing deal he has with the retailer, Dunnes Stores. It’s in Dunnes where consumers can shop his accessible clothing range and housewares. Paul Costelloe’s presence in the Irish retailer’s 136 nationwide stores that have woven him into the Irish fashion canon. The catwalks are just for show. 

In parts of the collection, it felt as though he had thrown all three aforementioned ideas into one look. In others, he exercised caution, checking off the requirements to be something to each one without diminishing clarity. His evening wear was in fine form with some floor-sweeping gowns on show. They were new and they fit nicely amongst the tweed blazers and daywear. PVC jumpsuits, barely visible under blazers, and strikingly sixties baby doll dresses, on the contrary, felt impractical in the mix. 

But Costelloe introduced oversized shoulder bags which could accommodate anything imaginable—a slight exaggeration but they were bigger than your average tote. The accessory was a worthy addition. 
Photo Credit: Paul Costelloe
The Dublin-born designer’s eye for colour hasn’t faltered over the years. This time around, he fashioned a palette of azure blue, emerald green, and a deep pink. They delighted the eyes. They were optimistic in a time when spirits are low. 

Something about the clothes—and those white ankle boots—belonged to a different era, one of riches and excess, champagne and frolics. (2018, according to popular culture, is about brisk business, practicality, and clothing as a form of protection.) For this critic, it called to mind the Celtic Tiger, Ireland’s era of economic prosperity and unadulterated decadence. It made one question: are these clothes outdated or are they renascent? Perhaps the day will come again when the leisure class bedecks themselves in custom Paul Costelloe, wearing their Irish pride and their social status once more. 

In that sense, it was the most potent Paul Costelloe show in years.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Hermès is One of the Places the Philophiles Will Be Going

Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski is the woman behind Hermès’ women’s ready-to-wear line. She’s a French designer with a resume that includes The Row and Céline. She understands quiet luxury. No frills. No fuss. Classicism comes first. However, the 181-year-old brand is primarily known for its leather goods and silk scarves. The ready-to-wear, thanks to Vanhee-Cybulski’s point of view, is beginning to gain traction. 

She took the Spring 2019 show to the Longchamp Racecourse but eschewed from the obvious equestrian references. It was an elegant display of vacation-ready ease, brightly-hued separates, and elevated athleisure.

One thing is for sure: Vanhee-Cybulski solved some of the problems faced by the Philophiles—the group of women loyal to Phoebe Philo, the former artistic director at Céline—and their penchant for the clothing that understands them while serving its purpose as cloth. For the clothing that transcends fickle trends and endures fashion. 

When Phoebe Philo left Céline, the French house she redefined in her own image  with clothes that put women’s lives first with compassion and style, shoppers were left asking ‘who?’ Who would they turn to for quiet luxury? Journalist Kate Finnegan investigated some accessible—Céline is very expensive—alternatives in the Financial Times last weekend.

Leather was a key component to the show. Vanhee-Cybulski breathed life into the fabric, giving it a much-needed lightness for the summer season. The art of subtlety played to her advantage, as did some modern silhouettes. She could’ve used some more experimentation with the fabrics and a more forceful stance on particular styles—that cropped taupe jacket was a veritable winner. 

Overall, it was uncomplicated, sophisticated, and adaptable. Those are the increasingly-sought after qualities by shoppers and these are the kind of clothes women—read: very rich women—might buy come January. 

Photo Credit: Vogue Runway

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Chanel, Thom Browne Take Paris Fashion Week to the Beach

Chanel constructed a beach to serve as the backdrop for the Spring 2019 show. With sand borrowed from a local quarry, pistons gently pushing waves, lifeguard outposts and a boardwalk, it was the grandest set of fashion week. Hey, what better way than to impose the fact that it's a $10 billion company? 

Escapism has been a recurring motif during fashion week. In fact, it dates back a number of seasons, to the time of the manic 2016 US presidential election. Since then, designers have imbued their work with a sense of charming ease, summer-ready vivacity, and a frisson of joie de vivre. 

Karl Lagerfeld is at his best when he simplifies things, visualising his inspirations in their purest form. His references to the beach were obvious but they didn’t look trite. 

He reissued the signature bouclé in sorbet shades, encased the double-Cs on necklaces with golden life buoys. He applied parasol prints to dresses, paired swimsuits with jeans, cycling shorts with tweed jackets, and topped it all off with straw hats. It was the zesty, predictable fun you’d expect from a Chanel show but it was carefree and elegant, youthful and composed. It was refreshing like lemon sorbet. 

Thom Browne, the American designer who recently sold the majority stake in his business to Zegna for $500 million, was also drawn to the seaside. His weren’t as outwardly exotic, he transported audiences to what could’ve been Cape Cod. 

Lagerfeld and Browne painted the same landscape but produced two vastly different paintings. 

Browne’s penchant for satire is brilliant. He creates runway fantasies which mock preppy WASP culture but this time around it felt too self-indulgent. The workmanship was tremendous, incomparable even. But the narrative he wove—recognisable as the true meaning might’ve been—belied the ice-cream colours.  Watering can masks, lobsters and mermaids, and watermelon fascinators, on paper, read cartoonish fun. But the result was much bleaker. It could easily be the subject of the next season of FX’s American Horror Story.

With models trussed-up, bound and subjected to impossibly high stilettos, it was another questionable portrayal of women we’ve seen over the past 28 days. (Hedi Slimane, at Céline, is another offender.) There was no relief in the denouement, no bird set free moment, no hearty laughter. The girls were fastened tightly, emancipation across the water. 

It was at Valentino where Pier Paolo Piccioli objected to the idea that the beach is the ideal milieu for freedom. He believes women should be free wherever they may be. The use of colour was gorgeous as always—black and white, red and persimmon. It evolved into an explosion of patterns. For its glossy exuberance, Piccioli’s work—with some exceptions—stayed within a sophisticated bracket. A pink dress with a reverse print of flamingos, edged with pink feathers? Fabulosity defined. 

Piccioli’s producing exemplary, desirable work at Valentino. He’s tapping into pleasure centres with joyous, passionate fashion. Few, nowadays, can rise to the challenge of solving problems while also having fun. Beach, boardroom, or big city—Piccioli is your man.
Photo Credit: All Vogue Runway

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Fashion That Makes You Feel at Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe, Noir Kei Ninomiya

Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons seemingly revels in the other. She doesn’t have time for fashion as we have come to know it. In her world, trends don’t exist. 

Unpacking a Comme des Garçons doesn’t require a master’s degree in fashion journalism but an acute awareness of what’s going on in the world and a vague insight into the mind of one of fashion’s most unpredictable designers. But this season things weren’t as loaded with abstract forms and obscure inspirations, it was a deeply personal exploration.

She failed on her search to find what is new, she said. Her exploration, her self-proposed challenge resulted in a show that skewered motherhood, birth, rebirth, (enslavement?), themes which provided for yet another visceral experience. 

What first appeared to be the revival of clothing—there were signs of coats, jackets, trousers, and dresses—was turned on its head when one caught a glimpse of the pregnant silhouettes, lacerated at the waist, revealing CDG logos and newspaper prints. Lumps and bumps erupted from hither and thither in, what looked like, a comment on female physicality and a reconciliation with imperfection which felt like a self-reflection, back to Spring 1997 when she presented her ‘Lumps and Bumps’ collection which also abstracted the female form. 

The quiet soundtrack permitted the sound of chains, dangling from one model’s dress, and others’ Nike trainers, to fill the space with a sense of unease. The obvious connotations are enslavement. But as the model dragged them with every glacially-paced step it looked like redemption was on the mind, not imprisonment. It could symbolise where the women’s rights movement is: slowly but surely unshackling themselves from years of engendered inequality, reclaiming agency in the face of adversity but still facing the reality of slow progress. 

Maybe it wasn’t that at all. Maybe it was about Kawakubo’s own creativity, her difficulties with presenting something that enthrals, stuns, and excites the fashion press, and inevitably, the end customer. But as she meditated on the female form with conceptual silhouettes and chain accents, one couldn’t help but consider a wider cultural relevance following a week of sexual assault survivors speaking out and a complex hearing surrounding a Supreme Court nominee and alleged sexual misconduct. 

Junya Watanabe and Kei Ninomiya are two other Japanese designers under the Comme des Garçons umbrella. The Japanese company has stakes in both businesses. Unlike Kawakubo, they struck happier notes in their work but they were nevertheless emotional.

Watanabe’s ebullient, Queen-soundtracked homage to the 1980s was a modern retelling of the epoch with upcycled denim and tulle. The patchwork of denim dresses and upcycled gowns straddled youth culture and couture sensibilities. One of Watanabe’s greatest passions is street culture, it’s a reference he frequently calls on and it emanates in his work. Everything was put with platform sneakers. There was something mesmerising about the way he contrasted the durability of denim with the dreaminess of couture and the rebellious neon wigs and accompanying tattoo sleeves. 

Noir, Kei Ninomiya’s label, was utterly compelling in its approach to finding beauty in structure and silhouette. Clouds of cotton adorned the models’ heads, dispersing tufts like a dandelion in the springtime breeze. 

Through the use of his invariable palette of black, he addressed the interplay of masculinity and femininity with ethereal dresses in tulle and jersey with leather biker jackets and men’s tailoring. One stood out in particular, a pleated dress was layered over a white shirt with a black skinny tie and black trousers. Despite the omnipotence of black, he rarely missteps when it comes to finding new ways to express himself.

Kei Ninomiya’s beginnings were at Comme des Garçons as a patternmaker. It explains his penchant for the colour black—something Kawakubo is also drawn to in her work—and his masterful ability to invent new structural bodies (see the plastic, feather-accented cages) and perfect existing ones (refer to his immaculate tailoring).

Ninomiya’s brand of romantic punk and historicism lends itself to the kind of fashion that doesn’t have to bear a deeper meaning to have a profound impact. Sometimes, with few words, designers can achieve much more than those who stuff their runways with context. It works and sublimity doesn’t need justification. 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Hedi Slimane's Céline is 100% Hedi Slimane

When LVMH announced Hedi Slimane as the artistic, creative and image director of Celine in January 2018, there was a collective gasp from the fashion industry.

Firstly, they were surprised to hear fashion’s dark prince, one of the most polarising figures in decades, would be returning to the industry following a two-year hiatus following his exit from Saint Laurent. Secondly, they were shocked that LVMH would appoint Slimane, whose rock-chic, skinny tailoring aesthetic is the antithesis of his predecessor’s, the British designer Phoebe Philo. What would become of the house that, in its modern iteration, lobbied for women on all fronts—she brought them sublime clothing which made them feel like acknowledged as self-assured adults. It was fashion sorbet: palatable, subtle, and delightful.

The answer to the all-important question—what will it look like?—was revealed last night in a purpose-built black box facing Les Invalides.

(The first glimpses of his house were unveiled earlier this month when he removed the accent over the ‘e’ in Céline, making it Celine. He did the same the same at Saint Laurent when he dropped the Yves for the ready-to-wear. If anything, that’s a testament to his influence as a designer. The following promotional campaign of white teenage girls 

Slimane modelled the house in his own likeness, of course. Members of the industry flocked to Twitter to vent their frustration at his casting (almost all white and under-20), and the distinct resemblance to his Saint Laurent. It earned titles such as “narcissistic,” “belligerent,” “offensive,” and “ignorant.” 

But, when confronted with a collection like this, we must ask: are we surprised?  

The answer should be ‘no.’ Slimane is a self-aware designer. He understands he holds power, enough of it to shift the meaning of fashion and the meaning of a fashion house. At Dior Homme in the early 2000s, he championed skinny-tailoring which has since pervaded contemporary culture dress codes. At Saint Laurent, he reignited that flame and sent high street retailers into a 1970s-tinged rabbit hole. The designer who replaced him there, Anthony Vaccarello, is still pushing similar shtick, albeit with more sex appeal. 

Now, at Celine, it appears he’s still targeting that same market and the same image. Youthful, skinny, white. The ‘idealised’ vision of fashion that looks awfully dated in the context of now.

The Parisian reflected on nights spent in Les Bains-Douches and Le Palace, two Paris nightclubs. The clothes were an homage to “young modern people.” It echoed the same narratives he explored a mere four years ago. But the world has tilted on its axis since then. And so has fashion.

The fashion world is interested in point-of-view. Critics readily bemoan the absence of a discernible perspective in collections. There is no denying Slimane possesses a singular vision. When things become self-absorbed, unwavering, and unshakable, then there is a problem. Not only does it situate the fashion in a particular era but it places the designer in the same context. Baby-doll dresses styled with cropped blazers, bold-shouldered 80s silhouettes, sequinned mini dresses, and biker jackets, have had their moment and it has at long last passed.

It is objectifying to replace the female gaze with the male gaze, sumptuous tailoring with micro-minis, comfort-first fashion with uncomfortably revealing fashion. Quite simply, it’s out of touch. 

There was menswear too, the first of its kind for Celine. (His first couture presentation will follow in January.) Like the womenswear, it also bore the same image as his Dior and Saint Laurent days: a fetishisation of skinny, (mostly) white men in tailoring and biker jackets. They didn’t look like visions of how men want to dress, rather visions of how Hedi Slimane wants men to dress. They were victims of idealised fashion clad in ankle-grazing trousers, leather jackets, skinny ties, and buttoned-up shirts. Given its accessibility, forensic attention-to-detail, and excellent tailoring, it’s the kind of stuff you could still see men queueing around the street for. 

Slimane is a merchandiser at heart, he knows how to push product. He tripled revenues at Saint Laurent and LVMH’s Sidney Toledano, chairman of LVMH’s fashion division, expects him to pull off the same feat at Celine. It will take a year or two before that information materialises.  

Slimane, who faced immediate backlash, is known for banning the critics who have offered scathing comments on his work from the show. Judging by the deluge of bad press he’s receiving in the aftermath of his debut, maybe he can’t ban everyone. Or maybe he can. After all, he’ll probably need to make room for the legions of buyers that will be knocking on his door. If they don't, then we'll know his moment has passed.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Power Plays in Paris During the Supreme Court Hearings

As Christine Blasey Ford testified against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in Washington D.C., recounting the details of her alleged sexual assault, the fourth day of the spring collections were taking place in Paris. It never fails to feel out of touch to perch oneself in the front row and watch models swan past bedecked in next season’s stuff in times of socio-political tension. But the show must go on as inappropriate as it seems.
Dries van Noten Photo Credit: Vogue Runway
On Tuesday, it was Belgian designer Dries van Noten’s turn. Van Noten, whose label was recently acquired by fashion and fragrance business Puig for an undisclosed sum, exhibited the freeing results of unbridled creativity in the wake of joining a luxury conglomerate. I interviewed Patrick Scallon for the other day, he was emphatic about defining the acquisition as a “strategic alliance.” The Puig acquisition is more of a collaboration, Scallon explained. It produced optimistic, coherent results for Van Noten who conflated athletic, workwear, and couture styles for the season ahead. 

This wasn’t couture, these were clothes. These weren’t just any clothes, though. They were soulfully bright, effervescent, and optimistic. Few compare and when you consider what’s going on right now in the realm of socio-politics, it takes someone like Van Noten to honour women with his tactile poetry and devotion to exploring fashion. 
Chloé Photo Credit: Vogue Runway
At Chloé, Natacha Ramsay-Levi played it safe with an escapist attitude. She was thinking about Ibiza and Mykonos, Capri or the Balearics. Wheresoever the Chloé girl winds up she’ll be equipped with a myriad of summery options ranging from sunset-hued t-shirts with a feminist sign, fringed skirts, and paisley trousers. She threw some denim and light knitwear into the mix which was utterly gorgeous. Ramsay-Levi’s off to a good start at Chloé. She’s a talented woman with a flair for designing for their lives, but also according to the house codes: a bohemian spirit with a dash of sophistication. 

It’s collections like Chloé, despite their aesthetic value, that makes you scratch your head or release a sigh of relief. They bring to question the frivolity of fashion at a time when a woman is sitting in a hearing, recounting her side of the story, as the world watches on and judges. 

It’s collections like these that point to the subjectivity of fashion: you either value the escapism or you cast it aside, wishing someone would bother to reflect the times, offer their two cents on the world and how the women of tomorrow will respond. 
Rick Owens Photo Credit: Vogue Runway
Leave it to Rick Owens to spell a statement so potent it resembles witchcraft, the kind of legal torture inflicted upon the victims rather than the accused, closely resembling the judicial strife taking place in America presently. Owens, an American, had a citadel erected at the Palais de Tokyo which was then torched, burning throughout the dramatic procession.

He was thinking about nihilism, joy, resistance, anger, instinct, words achingly pertinent to the current state of American politics. 

The collection borrowed the same inspiration from the men’s show in June, Tatlin’s Tower, a symbol of modernity but, ultimately, aspirational futurism. The building was planned to commence following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 but it was never realised. 

The clothes, if you want to call them that, were elaborate entities that could be described as ‘warrior insects.’ Much of it recalled the same Russian Constructivist notes that fed into the men’s show in June—harsh lines juxtaposed with curvilinear principles. 

He pieced together segments of leather into mini dresses resembling armour, denim was deconstructed and draped across the body echoing survivalist instincts, and geodesic monuments adorned models’ arms and heads like crowns. It was simply outstanding, the sheer unpredictability of it. Some of it was even wearable. Other parts were totally impractical. But Owens’ women have never been ones to waver to convention and it’s all the better for it.

A torch-bearing woman blazed her own trail, attired in clothing whose aesthetic language belongs entirely to the designer who created it. It was poignant moment thinking about where the path might lead us but you need an authoritative figure, like Owens, and said model bearing a burning branch, to usher us out of a dark period and into brighter days. One hopes it’s a good omen. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Two Different Ideas of Women at YSL and Marine Serre

Are you caught up on the latest news? Michael Kors acquires Versace for 2 billion euros! LVMH is resurrecting Jean Patou, a 20th-century couture house! Hedi Slimane did his first interview at Céline! The fashion industry is a string of appointments, firings, acquisitions, and divestments. It may look creatively-inclined but it’s always got its finger on the pulse of the business. Makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, fashion is about the bottom line.

That’s a cynical way of looking at things. Fashion and its cultural relevance shouldn’t be lost because it holds as much value to the world as the numbers do to the executives at the head of luxury conglomerates. Designers can communicate messages through clothing and on day two of Paris Fashion Week, the shows mostly struck a balance between creativity and commerce. 

Anthony Vaccarello’s Saint Laurent is one of the parent company Kering’s most prized possessions. With over $1 billion in revenue, it’s important to them to sustain the growth Hedi Slimane built during his tenure as the previous artistic director. 

For the third time, Vaccarello spared no expense in summoning guests to the Eiffel Tower for a blockbuster event, a veritable fashion spectacular. Set designers brought Los Angeles to Paris. (He’s really clinging onto Slimane’s legacy.) They erected white palm trees, models walked on water. 

Vaccarello is quite good at reworking pieces from the archive. This time, the strongest notes came from Slimane’s period at the house. Models strut with their hands pocketed in their tapered trousers; slinky mini dresses recalled some of Slimane’s final collections. Of course, he intertwined nods to the house’s founder, taking cues from the 1970s and 1980s. It’s a playful ode to the house’s origins and it makes for a potent fashion statement, a self-assured awareness of the YSL legacy. The Slimane stuff? Also a self-assured awareness of the modern YSL legacy.

On the other hand, Vaccarello’s statement about femininity isn’t as reassuring. He was going for a sort of 1970s sexual liberation narrative but somewhere he got dropped it all and just went for sex. It was scantily-clad, mostly abbreviated hemlines suitable for the leisure class as opposed to corporate professionals, sheer fabrics and leopard print exuding sex appeal. Are pelvis-exposing bodysuits necessary in 2018? A leopard print sarong. Really? 

Integrating women’s basic wardrobe needs-- good trousers, a nice jacket--into a collection isn’t such a foreign concept. There was some superb tailoring, all 1970s-inspired. It evoked a quintessentially French sensibility in terms of styling. All the models were missing was a cigarette dangling from their red-stained pouts and a highball with whiskey. As I said, it’s one for the leisure class.

Vaccarello, with the aid of a twinkling Eiffel Tower and a huge set, encapsulated the wealth and means of the Saint Laurent brand. What he could’ve done with is some intimacy. Money talks but it doesn’t always have to. 

On the contrary, Marine Serre’s ‘Futurewear’ was clever, vibrant, and dynamic. The recipient of the 2017 LVMH Prize elaborated on many of her ruminations, chiefly, elevated utility. There were many military-style pockets on pantsuits! There were more creative splicings of second-hand scarves, this time into couture-like gowns! A fabulous keychain-embroidered overcoat on Helmut Lang-favourite, the 90s model Cordula Reyer! Women of all ages! Families! Different ethnic backgrounds!

Serre is the new kid on the block but she’s done, in two seasons. She reflexively responds to the ever-changing needs of women and she attempts to make their daily lives that bit easier, whether it is in utilitarian tailoring or scarf pattern, Grecian-inspired evening gowns. Her ‘Futurewear’ proclamations were very much rooted in combining utility with couture ideals. Her signature, the crescent moon, which can be read for its religious, spiritual, or aesthetic connotations was emblazoned on denim. A knockout. A meaningful one.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Maria Grazia Chiuri Comes Close at Christian Dior, Jacquemus and Gucci Fall

Maria Grazia Chiuri’s latest outing for Christian Dior took place at Longchamp Racecourse, a hippodrome thirty minutes west of central Paris. It wasn’t a continuation of the pre-season collection she delivered in May at a grand stable in Chantilly, this was an entirely new canon about dance.

(A quote from German dancer Pina Bausch was scribbled on the white tent which held the show. Israeli choreographer Sharon Eyal created a spectacular ballet performance to accompany the show. It was poetic but, ultimately, distracting from the clothes.)

The clothes didn’t quite get there. They were largely uninteresting, replete with obvious balletic influences. They lacked a desirable, discernible bite. She rendered everything in drab neutral tones. The paler the palette got it felt like a cloudy day when the sun was trying to break through. She nearly got there.  The success stories were the Bar jackets updates. Shown in a variety of fabrics, they were styled down, giving Dior that air of accessibility she’s desperately trying to achieve. It was modern, especially styled with that sublime printed denim. Those even looked effortlessly youthful, a far cry from that matronly dourness at the haute couture presentation in July.

Chiuri’s Dior has been marked by inconsistency and a forced desire to spotlight veritable feminist iconoclasts. The references to women in history--notwithstanding their incredible accomplishments and history’s tendency to shadow them in favour of male canons--feel too obvious. She’s slowly fine-tuning the art of subtlety with the clothes. Now it’s time to bring the whole thing together.
Christian Dior Photo Credit: Vogue Runway
Simon Porte Jacquemus, the fashion industry’s darling-of-the-moment, should consider cultivating new territory for himself. Under the afternoon sun, his procession of Riviera-ready chic strut to traditional music in shades of white, navy, cerise and melon. Since childhood, he’s “fantasised about Italy, the Cote d’Azur, the Riviera.” He offered more bike shorts, extra skimpy, perfect for bronzing on a yacht; bikinis and shirt dresses, and ample décolletage.

Jacquemus, who brought you this summer’s oversized sun hat trend, succumbed to the temptation of an Instagram moment with the latest addition to his accessories range: an oversized straw hat beach bag. Expect to see your Instagram feed bombarded with images of it once vacation season commences. 

It read Kardashian Summer Vacation more than the unique blend of sophisticated sexuality he struck gold with back in September 2017. It was a narrow-minded portrayal of women's bodies, forcing them into exclusively impossibly thin categories. 

He's done it before, one has faith he can make us swoon again.

Alessandro Michele’s Gucci is almost comical at this point. What gobbledygook will he come up with this time around? What ‘radical,’ Bowie-esque proposition will he come up with? Will he bedeck men in feathers and sequins or diamonds and fringe? Will women be enshrouded in sheaths of tulle or layers of silk? Are they Cher die-hards or Thatcherites? Is this how you adapt the grandiosity of the 18th century for a contemporary audience? You could ask yourself any of those questions if you quickly scan the Spring 2019 imagery. 

Michele chose Le Palace, a theatre and storied former nightclub in the 9th arrondissement. 

Jane Birkin crooned while Faye Dunaway and other Gucci-clad Micheleites, such as South Korean pop star Kai Jong-in (who attracted hordes of teenage followers outside, waiting impatiently the venue), watched on with feverish anticipation to see the next foppish man, dressed in either 70s-influenced suiting, snakeskin or sparkly pink trousers, and denim corsets, or fay women attired in a selection of Crayola brights, feather embroidery, and emerald silks. 

If this was the 1970s--which it isn’t, I might interject--surely these characters would be partaking in illicit activities, smoking an unholy amount of cigarettes, and ‘boogieing’ to their heart’s content. It’s fitting the show took place in a theatre because the end product is veering too far from practicality and, right now, that's becoming the biggest flaw in his grand plan.