paris fashion week: balenciaga & the street casting

(images via ny mag)

for his s/s 2011 show at balenciaga, nicolas ghesquière sourced his looks from london punks and streetwear, commenting that, “The boyish side of a woman can be very attractive.” (probably in reference to the cropped haircuts many a model was sporting.)  which brings us to…

notably. except for stella tennant, who appears to like her hair manageable, the only girls forced into a crop were his “characters”; women who had been street-casted over the preceding june.  tossing between these, um, regular people, were a number of famous models…gisele, amber valletta (below), carolyn murphy, and even a knocked-up miranda kerr to boot, seemingly proving that these girls are more than merely clothes hangers. 

at first glance, street casting seems a little intriguing, right?  so i thought, too, for a moment.  then, as i continued to look, i realized nothing is really changing.  it’s not as though they got girls who look so shockingly different from the rest, or cast a show with all of them.  they’re still throwing professionals into the mix & “supermodels” to catch the attention of a fickle industry that likes to see these things. 

in the end, we’ll probably see more than a few of these girls signed & appearing now & again on runways.  after all, how many models we know now (indeed, like freja beha erichsen, above) were first scouted chillin’ on the streets of their home areas?  furthermore, it annoys me to no end only the non-famous girls were requested to fuck up their hair.  as if they don’t matter, they’re merely decoration, while, yannow, girls like freja, they can’t be bothered with that shit.  so, i’m stamping this effort with a giant FAIL.

in the end, it’s amazing how much designers believe they can appease the simpletons (us) with a little switchup, as if we’re not going to notice the smokescreen.  a newfound high fashion love for miranda kerr doesn’t somehow prove the industry is evolving.  it’s merely embracing a bigger pair of breasts on the sample size body. 

allegedly, all this fuss about personality was supposed to showcase individuality in the collection.  which…perhaps it did, in a way, with the references to hard-livin’ types who wear thick soled boots and likely roll their own cigarettes, but it was presented in the characteristic balenciaga way, which is to say, it “read” much like his other collections. 

in other words, there were those tailored looks, experimental pieces, and pretty (more commercial) dresses, a format the designer has followed many a time in his presentations.  indeed, it takes a while to glimpse it, but take a look back through the archives

of course, he should get some credit for busting out the flats & taking a trip to a place that doesn’t include bohemian fringe or tangerine shades, but it’s also kind of hard to see such a deliberately counter-culture movement paraded on a runway as the next big “look” for a major luxury house. 

one might argue, and i’m going to, as someone who lived in warehouses, where people subsisted on dumpster-dived food, that this whole culture isn’t really friendly to the socialite set about to be wearing their looks and it’s priming a lot of people for “POSER” tags to be branded on their foreheads. 

but that’s just me.  the likes of style & wwd are eating this nonsense up.  thus, critically (and likely commercially), we have a new winner.  and new proof, besides the choosing of models, that the mainstream high fashion industry is an immovable art force not really getting that they’re casting themselves as the butt of jokes, rather than an edgy institution we all of us aspire to.

(see the full show here)

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paris fashion week: anne valérie hash

(images via style)

for her s/s 2011 collection, anne valerie hash commented, “You know how you look when you’re in love, that rosy glow?…That’s how I wanted the clothes to look.”

thus began one of the better collections emerging for the season, with couture techniques embedded in a show full of softly sweet feminine techniques mixed with a bit of a rough tumble—rolled pants, distressed leather, ragged hemlines. 

though certainly this was a commercial collection, the designer is skilled enough to know how to throw interest into the mix, working with waistbands and ruffles to add edge to pieces entirely work-appropriate. 

her palette choices were also stellar, from the dusty tans and blues, to gray and black, which exuded a casual cool a lot of people are going to be looking for at isabel marant & which we haven’t seen much of yet this season. 

constance jablonski’s blackface in numero

(image via ny mag)

because diversity in body type or ethnicity isn’t ever “in” with the fashion world (okay, maybe one season every few years), and because they apparently don’t have any black models to choose from for their new editorial, numero cast french model constance jablonski in blackface. 

probably the most annoying part of this whole issue, to me, is that despite fashionie-types crying that they’d like more diversity, more curves, magazines & runways keep tossing out the same.  how frequently do we bitch when this crops up?  yet, it gets some attention for an ailing magazine, so that makes it right, perhaps.  if the world were as prejudiced as the fashion industry, we’d all of us be at the back of the bus, with perhaps a lone individual riding in front. 

milan fashion week: aquilano.rimondi

(images via style)

for the spring 2011 show, seventies (what else?) themes were on order at aquilano.rimondi.  using heavy ethnic motifs, prints, and bold colours, the designers sent a show down the runway that ranged in its ability to impress. 

although they at times offered some decent silhouettes with interesting patterns, they seemed bent on making the owners of their otherwise quite pretty dresses get bikini waxes before donning them, with strategically-placed slits up nearly every thigh.  (case in point: skirt below.  would have been good for work before that, no?)

from this, it seemed, they weren’t sure who would be coming into their shops come spring, with many a shape/print almost seeming to be for the more conservative customer, but breaking that mold with a slash to the neck or hem, which suddenly sent it to x-rated areas. 

it wasn’t a bad show, and definitely had some nice variations on the new classics, with colour and print for the season, but as i’ve lamented before, when are designers going to figure out we’re not all of us leading a life of leisure around the clock?

(see some action here)

paris fashion week: gareth pugh

(images via ny mag)

gareth pugh’s spring 2011 collection shows (and i’m about to get sent shrapnel for these remarks from his legions of fans, but see how much i care) what i’ve long suspected, that he’s irrefutably going the commercial direction.  that and, you know, he’s running out of ideas. 

like his fall 2009 show, this presentation featured a model (in this case, kristen mcmenamy) in various forms of contortion, as directed by ruth hogben (who directed the previous film as well).  was it a shock the first time he did it?  yes.  today, not so much. 

and therein lies the problem with a talented designer of limited scope.  sure, he has some great ideas (the hair in these shots being one such), and can techincally dazzle with a piece of fabric, but giving us show after show of colour-bare pieces evoking a nineties minimalism mixed with homage to the matrix just doesn’t get me out of bed like it used to. 

i know sometimes it seems young designers are set up to fail & all we want to do is bitch about the contradictions we expect them to display.  work clothes, yet something arty.  something new, but true to themselves.  however, to be showing at the top level, shouldn’t this be something of a requisite?  if we got as few outstanding films as we did collections, the movie industry might be largely bankrupt by now. 

the problem is, it seemed he used to not hear so well the chatter from the industry and perhaps did what he liked; frequently, elaborate contraptions hardly anyone outside an art gallery would don.  today, it seems he thinks of nothing but impressing them, become one who is so caught up with capturing the attention of the fashionies, the clothes have severely lost merit.  but, in the end, i’m here talking about him, so perhaps he wins this round.  though is it for long?

(see the full show video here)