bafw: varanasi

(images via varanasi)

it really is a shame that buenos aires fashion week occurs simultaneously with milan, because while most are rushing off to that part of the world to squawk over what ‘delicacies’ are at prada, armani, and the like, it leaves us open to miss some outstanding collections, such as the f/w 2011 show by varanasi

according to a blog which i think i understand (feel free to correct me if your spanish is better than mine), the label is designed by former architects.  the fall collection, titled, “Amori Sfigati” takes inspiration from italian film, as well the artist chiara rapaccini, telling some sort of love tale. 

the collection mostly focused on longer dresses, sometimes with a filmy bottom half (such as the looks at top & bottom), which seemed to depict almost cartoon-like black figures.  intricate little tricks of detailing featured throughout, as well as metallic dresses that were composed of a silken, layered-ly material, which almost resembled stucco half-peeled from the wall (get a good look at that here). 

though the show was decidedly artful (featuring some of the most goddawful hair to ever grace a runway, and making for one of the best arguments i’ve seen on models not being there to look pretty), there were plenty of wearable creations, provided some of the styling is toned down (and the bland caramel boots are tossed aside—did they have no footwear and get them for free?).  but in all, it was quietly spectacular, with many lovely, desirable pieces which were both timeless and modern, making varanasi a priority for one to look out for in the future. 

(watch a short catwalk video here)

london fashion week: acne

(images via lfw)

you always know a collection the plaid wearing hipsters will swarm over en masse, perhaps trading their favourite trucker hats for is coming when the designer says they found inspiration from a ‘real’ source.  in acne’s case, for the a/w 2011 effort, creative director jonny johansson name-checked “the girls in [his] design studio.”

the notion of receiving creative fuel from others designers work with, or treating fashion as a more collaborative attempt has been rather hot lately, with rag and bone’s ‘diy’ campaign, and, to a lesser extent, melissa’s diy shoe.  but perhaps i’m digressing, and anyway, mr. johansson also cited artist daniel silver as inspiration. 

anyway, whatever the reason, his heart or his shoes, references, the show bore the characteristic acne androgyny, as well as more youthful pieces, like the sporty metallic-striped trousers, the outstanding jumpsuits, and motorcycle jackets.  the striking colour choices also brought verve to the staples, with pieces in rose, avocado, wine, pale blue, and mustard. 

reflecting a little further, perhaps bright young things weren’t just serving as inspiration for their aesthetics, either; style opines that the aforementioned atelier girls represent, “people who conjured maximum cool out of minimum budget, reconfiguring workwear as a chic little something.” wouldn’t it be a treat for high fashion to make something of that, rather than simply a way for the haves to laugh at us all, feeling that they’ve just got a little more ‘street’ because of it?  still, it’s an interesting thought.  and designers have reconsidered some of their prices in the deathly economy, so perhaps there is an upside, after all. 

(watch a short show video here)

updated: with new images

eco fashion week vancouver: emesha

(images via efwv)

the eco fashion week vancouver is yet another lesser-well-known fashion event that is occurring simultaneously with the major four, and though sometimes such narrowly-focused shows have a tendency to bring out a talent level that equates to an “aha!” with an explanation on why they’re so much less publicized.  nevertheless, this one has brought out quite a lot of good stuff, including the f/w 2011 range for the label emesha

considering that we don’t have enough images at our disposal for a proper review per-se, instead we’re going to just enjoy these and take a moment to learn a bit more about the label, which i think is rather more exciting than talking about john galliano again.  created by a lady of the same name, the brand has the following value system: “The label was created using only green/eco-friendly materials, and the production is organized to help a depriving fashion expert community in Hungary to survive the difficult economic and social changes. Emesha practices fair wage policy and she hopes her initiatives will soon find followers within the industry.” 

refusing to use leather or fur in her creations, emesha strives to provide a “sporty-luxe” aesthetic, and (though i rather like that it isn’t so obviously played-out), states that she does design for those who care about the environment.  from the images available, it seems the fall collection is a little heavy on the pouf-y cocktail dress, but the unexpected details such as the exposed stomach area on the dress below or the layered dress (second from top) keep the silhouettes looking fresh and are earmarks of thoughtful design, rather than a lot of flash from just another label. 

milan fashion week: versace

(images via wwd)

the latest versace effort, for fall 2011, has gleaned both positive reviews, mixed, and those flatly negative, and while i can see merits in all of those points, i also think we should take a moment to try to respect what donatella versace is trying to do—turn a new corner for the brand. 

but first, a quick recap: there were hints of military, with the first looks on the runway cut in black and navy and accentuated with big gold buttons, turning to what cathy horyn dubbed “baroque”—and here we saw almost grecian swirls on little dresses with a rather subdued feel for versace, as well as feathered and sequined gowns to close out the show (and these the wsj really hated, commenting, “I’m not sure who wears a yellow dress of ostrich feathers. The feathered pieces had nothing to do with the military looks or the geometry of the rest of the collection, and that sort of bon-bon-eating frivolity isn’t what we look for from…Versace”), and hints of schoolgirls traipsing in amongst the looks throughout. 

i will admit that unto itself the collection wasn’t a particularly cohesive whole—there were a number of fragmented ideas here that scattered along the wind as was too-common in the days when ms. versace first took the reigns of the house following its founder’s death.  however, while the word “sexy” is on many a critic’s mind—it appears in nearly every versace review predictably as the brand name itself—the fall show felt a marked departure from the heavy push we frequently see. 

to be sure, there were leather looks, bondage-esque straps, and plenty a high slit on a skirt to give us understanding of where we were, but it never seemed to descend into the territory of skintight, silky fabric, featuring those outlandish displays of cleavage we’ve sometimes seen (not that there is anything wrong with that—in fact, versace does it among the best of them). 

instead, the sometimes-schoolgirl aesthetic seemed a nod to christopher kane’s versus of s/s 2011, where a light hand and cheerful demeanor were keywords of the day.  ms. versace has noted that she could imagine mr. kane designing for the main line in the future, and although it might simply be (another) tangent on opt’s part, perhaps the fall collection marked an effort to slide the brand along that path.  it will forever be the house gianni versace built, but has the time yet come for at least a little re-imagining?

and yet, for all that, the sensuality and end parade of oscar gowns were still on full-throttle, with nearly everyone making comments on the latter, no matter what the tone of their review: “The sexy goddess gowns she did send out, with bondage-y busts and gentle feathered trains, were striking, especially one quietly bejeweled stunner that rang 1-800-CALL-ME-OSCARS” (wwd), “(T)hat Hollywood classic should be on the red carpet Sunday night on some Best Actress lovely” (wsj), and “Backstage after the show, a tired but pleased-looking Donatella showed off the collection highlights as fashionistas tried to guess who would wear the feathered gowns to the Oscars” (afp). 

in summation, i can say that there was plenty of glamour mixed in among the simpler, sweeter looks to keep any storied versace customer happy.  the runway may not have had the flash-and-pop of seasons past, but wouldn’t we all gladly sacrifice that if it meant a house founded on more that loud, bright colours and bold sexuality?  ms. versace has become a stronger designer in her own right as time has passed and knows now how to infuse subtleties and humour into her work.  but perhaps we’re today not giving her credit for that, focusing instead on how we want the biggest christmas tree.  after all, isn’t it way past time the versace woman evolved a bit into something besides a troll through the archives?  sometimes it seems critics cry if they don’t see enough of that, but it’s a true pleasure to see some real branching out for the designer.