Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fashion Weeks

As you may or may not know, the fashion world has been in full throat the past month or so with Fashion Weeks taking place around the world. I am struck, most of all, by the boringness of so many of the NY ready to wear collections...good God, fashion, with the world in its current state, we NEED some joy in our clothing! Here's a rundown of some of the highs and lows.

I know there are quite a few of you who come here more for the swearing and the politics than the fashion, so let me explain briefly how fashion terms work. First, and eternally foremost, the phrase "haute couture" is NOT synonymous with "made by a designer." I understand that this is once again one of my private little battles with society at large, but actual haute couture refers to a very specific and tightly regulated community of fashion houses who a.) design made-to-order clothing for private clients, b.) have a workshop in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full-time, and c.) presents a collection biannually to the Paris press, comprising at least thirty-five runs with outfits for both daytime wear and evening wear (Wiki). Couturiers make these spectacular collections to promote their House and showcase their skills (these are the elite of the fashion industry), but very few people actually wear - and can afford - true couture, and for that reason, the Houses also produce ready to wear (or, pret-a-porter, which means exactly the same thing, in French) collections and other whickety whack like jewelry, perfume and accessories for the mass market.
I think I said I would keep this brief. Once again, I am full of lie.

Anyway, you get two types of fashion show - couture and ready to wear. Ready to wear is stuff that theoretically is for everyday wear (depends on your fashion ballsiness factor), whereas couture as explained above is pretty exotic.

Paris' Couture Fashion Week

Anne Valerie Hash needs to be told that gluing one weird piece of plastic onto a garment does not a couture collection make. I felt not only that this could have passed as ready to wear for a certain well-heeled kind of hemp-friendly hippie, but the color palette was boring as shit and there was nothing exciting about it for me. I also SWEAR there is a glorified Members Only jacket in there and that's just not acceptable on any level.

Armani Prive put out a series of suits in drab colors that felt very dated to me...tapered, high waisted (not in the good or in the modern way) pants, interesting enough but pleat-heavy jackets, shiny, garish fabric all over the thanks. Also, sorry Armani, but there's just no way for a giant neck bow to be pulled off. There was one dress that I really did think was lovely, which I've included in my round up at the bottom.

I continue to be Christian Dior's bitch in a totally pathetic way. I just adore what John Galliano does for this house, and though I do not love this collection with the same passion that I loved last year's spring collection that I refer to ALL THE DAMN TIME, but I love the way Galliano continues to produce innovative, exciting design while still constantly calling back to the grand tradition of the Dior house. The attention to detail is fantastic, and I enjoyed the use of sheers throughout the collection, and honestly...I want to live in a world where the insane leopard print dress I included below is commonplace.

Christian Lacroix was not my personal cup of tea, but after the overall blandness of much of the shows, the color was refreshing. The reason I didn't love the collection was mostly because I found it VERY busy...lots of stuff going on in each outfit, plus some pretty extravagant hair and makeup. There was a certain Elizabethan-updated-but-perhaps-not-correctly-stored aesthetic, which probably explains why I don't like it that much. I have never been into the whole medieval thing. My favorite of the collection was a relatively plain dress (included below) in a bright yellow with black detailing. Still, innovative and interesting.

Elie Saab put out a really lovely collection of formal gowns. While some of them trended towards being a little more prommy than I would like, the detailing is immaculate and every gown makes a definitive statement about the wearer. Not my favorite color story, but you can't have everything in this life, I suppose. I am still trying to decide how I feel about the graduated color trend that seems to have started with last season's Sfumato and Ombre shoes from Prada and carried into fabrics this season. I love it in the bright pop of blue in a brownish dress (below), but it's not a guaranteed win, even within a given house.

Givenchy was...different, that's for Goddamned sure. First of all, there were these insane boots all over the collection that I kind of love. They sort of look like regular pointy toed boots with some kind of deranged UberSpat over them. I included a picture below. The detail was interesting, though not my cuppa, and look...all I'm saying is that there's a pair of fuzzy shorts in there, people. I can't fault the creative vision of someone who makes fuzzy shorts.

As I noted to The Lucy, I saw a lot of Project Runway's Kara Saun in the first part of the Jean Paul Gaultier show. Lots of leather and heavy materials, very buckly and modernistic. The entire collection felt very fragmented to me. There was a section of the leathery, outdoorsy feeling stuff, then some great use of dramatic color, then a section of stuff with kind of serpentine whickety whack on it, then an inexplicable velour jumpsuit, then some creative cape action, then some kind of velvet high priestess outfit? How do all these things coexist? I would have liked to see a more common thread throughout, with more development of the color. The Lucy noted that Gaultier has clung to the 90s pretty hard after their involvement with Madonna in her glory days, and I think there's really something to that, particularly in the whickety whack section (cool though I found its deployment).

Maison Martin Margiela...what does one say about this? It's a collection that features a Princess Leia dress and clothing straight out of the Project Runway challenge when they had to make stuff out of recycled materials. I mean, I don't find it as offensive and self-impressed as I often find this variety of "I made this jacket out of six-pack plastic and bird poop, aren't I just the CUTEST???" clothing, but it's still weird and lame.

Valentino tried one of those dangerous experiments with changing the shape of a woman's body, and I am torn on it. First of all, this is the least boring of the neutral-toned collections....there's actual interest going on, and it's all well done. That being said, the problem of the body shape is significant. I like the bulbous hip and thigh area styling, and I like the use of ruffle to lift or lower waist- and bustlines, but then towards the end of the collection...a couple dresses involving elbow-level slits for armholes. The models are walking down the runway with their arms sticking out at waist level. I can tolerate a lot but let me tell you, if looking like a T-Rex becomes a Thing in fashion I am going to snap.

Ready to Wear commentary sometime next week...


  1. Okay, thoughts of my own:

    Anne Valerie Hash: BLAH. I can drape a sheet over my shoulder, too.

    Armani Prive: I actually like some of the suits, though they are, I agree, dated. Very Katherine Hepburn 1930s. It actually seems like a vintage collection. Not really into the fabrics.

    Dior: Okay, LUST. Although, I wouldn't have minded something other than black.

    Christian Lacroix: Shakespeare on crack, with makeup reminiscient of "Corpse Bride." Fucking weird.

    Elie Saab: I really like the saturated hues in this collection, and I love the details. I can see the "prommy," but is one of the better collections.

    Givenchy: Not really into it.

    Jean Paul Gaultier: Finally, a bright, autumny color (orange). A little too architectural and "Fifth Element" for me, though, in general.

    Maison Martin Margiela: Was one of those things made out of BALLOONS?

    Valentino: Second only to Dior, in my opinion. I really like most of these pieces, but couldn't there be a little more of the pretty, muted metallics, and less of the slightly-paler-than-skin-tone-ivory that's washing out the models? Also, I don't really "get" the shape-changing thing. That's why I pick Dior over Valentino: I like playing UP (not down) my female figure.

    Overall: Don't really get the washed-out nudes for fall, when everyone is getting pale again.

  2. I loved Givenchy and Valentino. I'm always drawn to anything that is fresh and different, and both of those collections are unique. I get a boner for anything creative though, whether it's ugly or pretty.