couture week: valentino

(images via ny mag)

the s/s 2011 valentino haute couture show was plenty of the prettypretty things, at least enough to convince most of the important fashionies that couture isn’t something to be dismissed.  not so quickly, anyway. 

“If fashion is about today, then today it’s time to go back to elegance,” one of valentino’s two designers announced of the show.  “Elegance is subversive.  The real subversion is culture.”  i’m not quite sure what the hell he meant by that, but it was a way to make the floaty collection sound that much harder.  actually, in contrast to some of their previous shows, this seventies-inflected presentation was a little more grown-up, with ensembles that seemed appropriate for more of the old valentino clientele. 

“Researching lightness, subtracting weight,” the designers said of the pieces, which were composed of plisse, lace, bows, silk, and crepe.  cathy horyn of the nyt sums the show up rather well: “There was lots of creamy lace and point d’esprit, soft pleating and an absolute minimum of bows and couture kitsch.”

and on another note (but i want to cover it), it’s amazing the things people find to talk about in their reviews (i know, i know).  the canadian press, at the end of its review, commented, “Really, it would take just such an It Girl, with endless legs and tiny ankles, to pull of any of the looks in the collection — where just about everything was completely transparent.  One woman whose physique is up to the task, Andrea Dellal — a Brazilian-born socialite who is Charlotte’s mother — gushed: ‘There wasn’t one thing in the collection I wouldn’t wear.’ ‘It was all so feminine and soft, I loved it all,’ said the elder Dellal, whose physique hasn’t changed an iota since her modelling days, decades ago.”  (it’s always so nice to read about people we hardly care about at all, yet need to know about, if only to instill all those weird fashion/body issues they feel the urge to press upon us.)

and anyway, i do not agree, for once.  the beauty of the show was that much of it was more mature and more suited to a variety of women.  isn’t it nicer to leave feeling good than insecure?

(see the full show video here)

spfw: amapô

(images via ffw)

sometimes in the course of my fashion wanderings, i wonder whether i’m just completely out of touch with the universe or whether something is more of a random decision.  for example, at the amapô a/w 2011 show at são paulo fashion week in brazil, they not only marched their show to the tuneage of the band linkin park, but cited them as one of the inspirations, as well.  (did they not rightfully die away some years ago? or do we not suffer enough with the current onslaught of popular ‘music’?  i’d like to remind everyone now there were days when the top acts included led zeppelin and the beatles.  just think on that for a moment before we move on….)

but getting back on point, some of the label’s other themes for the zany and intensely layered show included confusion, forest fires, princesses of darkness, and climbing ivy.  the deconstructed pieces (for men and women) included hair braided into the fabric of shirts, collars in the middle of blouses, and mis-matched buttons, all of which gave a kind of warehouse sewing room feeling.  although a few of the looks went too far, most had an ebullient creativity that was rather pleasing and unexpected, especially when juxtaposed with some of those thin-lipped and serious couture presentations (i’m looking hard at givenchy right now). 

hand-painted jeans factored largely into the materials used, as well as sequins, velvet, and silk.  the predominantly displayed patterns were created by (i presume brazilian celebrities): “the abyss” by cibelle and “tapestry” by fabio gurjão.  i’d also like to give a shout-out to whomever conceived of the giant strawberry bag, especially brilliant (and probably more desirable) in some of its odder colour incarnations. 

to be sure, this is not the sort of collection that lives forever in anyone’s mind, nor really past the dated season, really, and is likely to  get you on a worst-dressed list, should you wear any look in its entirety (not that those mean much; they’re usually compiled by the sort that know nothing of art or fashion and tend to reward jennifer aniston & angelina jolie repeatedly for their ‘magnificent’—read: boring—wardrobes).  however, it tends to inspire a bit of a sense of do-it-yourself-ness, encouraging the mix-and-match and stringing together of whatever you’ve got to create something festive & outlandish.  and that’s more exciting than all the st. john knits the aforementioned angelina can pile on at awards ceremonies, no?

(see the full show here)

updated: with new images

couture week: christophe josse

(images via vogue)

christophe josse is a relative newcomer to the world of haute couture, though apparently for the s/s 2011 season, he’s been certified as a full member.  this collection, with its whites, light yellows, and blacks was inspired by photography.

the designer used the work of bruce weber in haiti and heinrich kühn, winding his airy, feminine creations together with touches of latter-day couture (beading, feathers, draping) and modernist techniques fashion designers today are so in favour of (neoprene, steel embroidering).

wwd called it, “a little too rooted in old couture tradition”, but is it possible that’s spitting hairs at a time people are not only desperate for couture to remain in practice (and find much to criticize when they feel it is too modern or flip)?  but perhaps the job of a fashion critic is to never be happy unless the subject is an lvmh-owned brand they’re treated to a simultaneous juxtapositioning of all their internal desires, contradicting and confronting one another in the giant fashion arena.

anyway, the designer has been presenting his creations since the s/s 2006 season, although he launched his namesake label a season earlier, having previously slaved away under the direction of others.  he’s got a large atelier in paris and boasts an ever-expanding clientele, though with his beautiful throwbacks to the golden age of couture, it’s not difficult to understand why, no matter what wwd may argue.

(see the finale runway turn here)

updated: with new images

amsterdam fashion week: sage & ivy

(images via peter stigter)

far too lovely for the weak solution of anthropologie-meets-forever 21 and has a conversation about gaia, earth mothers, recycling, and girl power (in the form of shopping) mess of a website they’ve got, is the sage & ivy a/w 2011 collection. 

in fact, just so we can have a laugh, here is their mission statement;

“Sage and Ivy creates beauty and celebrates femininity. It emanates Zeitgeist. A woman is the most beautiful creature on this earth. She is my muse. She wants to live life to the fullest and sense what is happening around her. this world is hers. Sage and Ivy is cosmopolite, über feminine, stylish, and has a touch of glamour. Each design underlines effortless beauty, sensuality and awarness. Sage and Ivy is for you and me.”

on the fair end, they do try to do fair & ethical trade, as well as aim to be kind to the environment, but it’s like when my friend in college painted a giant mermaid with flowing hair and breasts bared on her door & i had to confront it every time i came over.  i just don’t know how to deal with that much raw estrogen.  but i’ve digressed long enough & i really do like the collection. 

getting back to that, designer alexia van engelen used russia as her inspiration for the show, with lots of lace detailing an lightweight fabrics for a collection that was largely snowy tones; white, cream, and gray, with browns and blacks to add some dark shading.  some of the pieces (such as above) were rather simplier, while she took risks with jumpsuits (below) and odd, but not-unflattering cuts. 

there were a few times she stumbled, with pieces coming off a little too kinderwhore (second from top) with skirts too short, or looks too sexy, but i think this was more a failed attempt to be modern than any real misunderstanding of the theme, more a way of awkwardly translating the storied theme into something today’s girls can get into.  however, most of the looks had a marvelous victorian elegance, leaving one only to wonder whether the website previously mentioned is the best place to sell these fetching wares?

berlin fashion week: maicco

(images via mbfwb)

the a/w 2011 maicco show at berlin fashion week drew inspiration from “asymmetry in symmetry”, attempting to incorporate elements that don’t really work together, but gradually blend in the viewer’s eye to make a decent getup. 

the brand is the creation of georgian designer maia samkharadze, originally a medical student in tbilisi before having a rather abrubt change of heart and taking this project on.  you can go to the site to read her poetry about the label’s visions, with her informing us, “maicco is about…expressing the jazz and craze that is trapped within us.” oh.  okay then. 

the collection itself, however, actually has made up one of the more exciting of the week, with its rush of colour, artistic accessories, and blending of rather more adventurous elements with basic books and dresses.  towards the end of the show, the shapes got a little wide, dwarfing the figures of the models, and could probably have been reigned in, making for charming art faire-esque coats and shawls, but instead felt art school-esque gone awry. 

the best looks, then, were when the designer kept the shapes close and offered fewer focal points, giving us one singular option (or maybe two) to ponder (see the top dress or look at bottom).  being eccentric isn’t always about pulling as much as one can out of a bag simultaneously, and a fetching print or compelling accessory is sometimes enough, as the designer’s strongest exits proved. 

(watch the finale video here)

updated: with new images