narciso rodriguez pre-fall 2011

(images via style)

the interplay of masculine/feminine was the theme for narciso rodriguez’s lovely-if-subtle pre-fall 2011 collection. 

he also expounded on fabrics to style, remarking that, “I love working with the factories, with the fabric technicians” and, as they so succinctly describe it, “decoloriz(ed) silk to create rainbowlike ombré effects on a wrap top…or launder(ed) flannel to give an otherwise pulled-together sheath a lived-in effect.”

in other words, that meant some brighter, if not unwelcome changes to his oft-minimalist work, with the peach-y patterned dress a veritable partied departure from his usually strappy, dark lineup (like that above).  (this is, of course, not to say he’s a somber designer, but he is neither particularly known for the kind of pieces that encourage poolside drinking of cocktails named things like “tropical sunrise”, as the aforementioned bright dress might suggest.)

these were highly commercial pieces, and though the designer has hardly made a bad piece in his career, pre-fall is the kind of season made for selling, less editorial masterworks of the runway collections, so we were given nothing particularly showstopping, either.  however, we’re getting a peek, perhaps, into where fall will lead us, and as these hit the racks shortly after that walks, remember this might be a better buy. 

lviv fashion week: alisa shevo

(images via lfw)

finishing out the spring 2011 collections in ukraine at lviv fashion week, we have the work of alisa shevo.

although on first glance the collection seems to be rather lingerie-heavy, but upon further look, it was filled with wardrobe staples as well as a rather nice parade of trenches at the show’s opening.

the occasional fault could be found in some of the lounge-y pieces shapes, sometimes rather appearing a weak solution of sexy maid fetishwear, but real strength came out when she reigned all that in and gave us smart cuts (such as the one above).  there were some quite pretty dresses as well (below), but that almost seemed by chance rather than skill at cutting (see the boxy upper body the girl is given in the bottom piece).  however, there was clearly talent here and though it will take some restraint, this was, doubtless, a beginning. 

(see the video here)

chanel pre-fall 2011

(images via style)

sometimes, as i sit pawing through the latest chanel collection, i wonder whether i’m tired of all the fawning because it’s simply required, or is it because it’s actually deserved?

trying for a more toned-down (by chanel standards) show this time around, karl lagerfeld presented his pre-fall 2011 collection at the brand’s couture studio above the rue cambon store in paris.  so you know, that equates something like madonna washing dishes in dolce & gabbana’s ads.  high-end folk letting us know that even when they let their hair down…and we’re supposed to laugh at the irony of it all, whilst they look at us with questions in their eyes.  well.  they should know that we know they know. 

anyway, this round was inspired by byzantium and empress theodora (yes, the one in this mosaic and frankly i’m surprised that the lot has taken till now to plunder.  well.), with the designer announcing, “Theodora was a circus artist who became empress, like Chanel, who was a little singer and became a fashion empress.” (ed note: she was also rumoured to have been a prostitute, something the historians among us can look on a little mirthfully as we take in the whole spectacle.)

if all that is beginning to sound a little stuffy to the girl who loves the scruffier side of chanel, the one that appeals to the olson twins & lily allen, well, fear not!  of course karl is too clever an artisan to leave us with piles of musty robes, even adorned with jewels though they may be, and took us to what might have been a 1960s film set on the subject, ready to capture the whole of the culture’s heyday, but isn’t it grand if a little of the swingin’ decade manages to climb aboard as well?

thus, we were greeted with little coats, embroidered headbands to keep the puff of hair at bay, day suits, square buttons, boots, and all the rest that the house does so well; just enough of a nod to the past, to the decade framing the whole lot, then a quick flash back to coco and her own framework, set in dazzling new tones that keep the masses always begging for more, something so appropriate in their closet, yet redefined once again!

isn’t it formulaic, you say?  well, yes, it is, because karl knows what his girls want and give it to them, again & again, ever with new twists to keep him just ahead of the pack, and though it should be boring, would be at most labels, his work is ever-enchanting. 

probably a lot of fashion people will ponder long & hard over why this is.  isn’t that the eternal question, after all, what keeps chanel steps beyond the others in the game?  but i think it’s a rather easy question, one that can be answered simply by looking closer at the clothes.  the enthusiasm, the care, is as ever woven into the very threads of each garment.  while others panic about staying ahead, staying sharp, worrying always about profit margins, karl, it seems, keeps his thoughts on making the most exquisite clothes he can manage, the best that might be found. 

and ultimately, that reads clearer than all marc jacobs’ fancy posturing at vuitton, or john galliano’s attempts at irony at dior.  in the end, they report to m. bernard arnault, who is nothing beyond his bank statements.  and they know that, we know that.  but chanel, has never felt it worries about that.  perhaps it does, somewhere, although then again, more likely it has never had to worry, like when one lets go of thoughts of fitting in, and suddenly becomes the coolest in school.  being above the worries suddenly grants it that status. 

my sole complaint, if i may venture one, was that there wasn’t much in the understated luxury category, this spin through the wash.  though chanel is superior with all things bejeweled, it has always been the type of house that can turn out a stunning-if-subtle white blouse, as well, and it wouldn’t hurt to chuck a couple of those out to the girls that don’t like to wear their checking account (of jewel box, as it were) on their sleeve.  but perhaps those are always available for those who can pay, languishing on a couturier’s table, just for the asking. 

in the end, though, the designer has, as ever, restructured the playground for the rest of the kids to consider, for another three months at least.  it must get tiring for the lot of them.  no wonder the rumors of his retirement incessantly persist. 

(check the full video out here)

novosibirsk fashion week: borodulin

(images via intermoda)

some quite fetching things came out of borodulin’s s/s 2011 collection at novosibirsk fashion week in siberia.  in particular, the drop-waist dress above. 

it may have been a little overly-pretty, with use of so much trim, lace, and all the trappings of sweet things that girls apparently need to prove they’re not getting older, or whatever it is the fashion companies seem so eager to push on us from the luxury box, but i suppose that is what many of the girls in those parts are wanting these days, so maybe we can’t fault them there.

updated: with new images

fashion week zagreb: bryce aimee

(images via dfwz)

actually from london, bryce aimee’s s/s 2011 collection is the kind of arresting collection that—while not exactly pretty, neither encourages one to look away.  ah, back to fashion. 

because we’ve apparently done very bad things in a past life to force us to go continually ‘round in the leggings-sphere, we got them in spades one again…monochromatic, patterned, floral, jester-like and cut in half with colour.  these topped some rather peculiar shoes that were not without their roots in ice skating boots and blouses that really brought the whole of the thing together. 

once again, this was a show more about styling; perhaps telling a story, of that lone girl who is so desperate to display her real personality that the miasma of all things eccentric in her closet brought together is what we’re going to experience until she has another, more solid sartorial revelation.  and like that girl, yes, there were decent pieces to be found, but if you’re going to rock them with any real insouciance, please do it in your own vein. 

(enjoy some show footage here)