spfw: gloria coelho

(images via ffw)

given how much science can actually do for the world of fashion, it’s rather sad how the fashionies continue to reject it—dos is still used for grading systems, and that’s just the start of it—although it may be argued that in recent seasons, particularly with regards to materials, there has been some gradual, grudging adoption of certain technologies. 

as such, i’ve always been an enthusiastic admirer of storied brazilian designer gloria coelho, who adopts a scientific bent for her collections presented at são paulo fashion week (see s/s 2011 & f/w 2011), a little balenciaga-like in the past-futurism approach, and replete with geometric shapes and technologically-advanced materials. 

if the prior season’s work was tending toward the simplistic in theme (she tossed pokemon into her myriad references), this time around, the range was back to the house’s former intellectualism (if a visual wink in the form of ‘x-men’ as inspiration was tossed in).  as ffw recounts, the show’s ideas came from (trans.), “‘clothes with loving energy and intent to cure, clothes that heal,’” and the years 1967-9, 1979, and 2011 (homegirl does love her sixties). 

portais da moda, meanwhile, points out that the presentation was fraught with astrological references, and solar system-esque motifs ran throughout the first part of the show, and (trans.) “the signs of Taurus, Scorpio and Capricorn, represented by colored clippings applied to leather coats.” (as the scorpion, seen above). 

as always, the designer made work of some unexpected materials, combining things to produce intriguing effect—leather, twill, organza embroidered with sequins, wool, silk satin, taffeta, nylon, and small crystal beads were employed in a colour palette of black, beige, orange, steel gray, pale yellow, red, blue, green, and coral. 

play on texture with unexpected cut-outs, layers, and shiny patent surfaces, alongside what ffw termed (trans.) “hide and seek color” was one of the main themes of the collection.  meanwhile, unexpected length was added from all the geometric shapes and the vertical lines that ran throughout the show, with pdm noting that they (trans.) “stretched the silhouette.”

although the dresses were the collection’s mainstay and strength, shorts, tunics, trousers, and jackets also found their way into the range.  beautiful and creative as the clothes were, though, it might be hard to imagine some of the latter making their way into cocktail parties or offices, while the dresses, though edgy, might be able to still capture some of the appeal some of the stiff shorts and laminated-looking jackets might not (particularly the opening bunch; such as that seen on aline, at top). 

the makeup looks, provided by director fabiana gomes, were some of the best i’ve seen coming out of spfw—and proof that the rest of these bitches need pay mind to what’s going on chez coelho.  as with many of the others this season, it had a naturalist bent—radiant skin, pale lips—but with slightly sparkly shadow and the corners of eyes touched with yellow or blue powder, to give a futuristic (if slightly daring/wearable) appearance. 

in the end, one might surmise that ms. coelho’s work isn’t for everyone—like balenciaga, this is almost science fiction-y fashion, and undoubtedly should be avoided by those who like to make their statements in quieter tones—but she always succeeds in presenting a collection both challenging and wearable (again, for some), that could equally puzzle us displayed on a mannequin at a museum.  the only shame is, while her star is bright in brazil, it’s always been a puzzle to me that most of the rest of the fashionies tend to ignore her.  their loss, then, especially when it does end up as part of an artistic retrospective. 

(see the complete show video here)

updated: with new images

salvatore ferragamo resort 2012

(images via style)

“The house of Ferragamo clearly had big bucks on the brain,” the wwd review of the salvatore ferragamo’s resort 2012 show, staged at doris duke’s house in new york, begins, “where the plan seemed to be spend, spend, spend, with the promise of making it all back.” after all, it works for chanel, no? 

indeed, shelling out what was surely a pretty sum in hopes, perhaps, that we forget that womenswear hasn’t had much of a point of view in recent years (womenswear having had at least three designers since 2007), current creative head massimiliano giornetti had the terms “glamour and elegance” on replay (says style), as he befitted his location with an elaborate staircase and some of the biggest names currently modeling (karolina kurkova, mariacarla boscono, karlie kloss). 

the inspiration seemed to come from ms. duke herself, and showed a similar disconnect with the times; if the show’s luxuriousness had little to do with today’s economic climes, it too was a little funny to see the decadence of the thirties (that decade much more familiar for its troubles akin to today’s), the shine of the rise of the silver screen and its heroines, with no thought to anything but parties and deluxe living, descending that staircase. 

these criticisms, of course, weren’t to point out that the clothes weren’t divine.  they were, and perhaps they simply elucidate a response akin to something like jealousy, that in these times most of us are still scrapping away for a piece of something from our dreams, some have no more cares than the silken evening gowns and suits (and perhaps for free—the new wave of starlets that sat front-row are sure to be indulging themselves in some gifting for their turns to shill it all back to us from the red carpet).  but i digress. 

there was a bit of a nautical motif running throughout, with stripes, sailor’s trousers, and anchor motifs dangling from an errant necklace, but that was also that posh boyishness—a holdover, perhaps, from the twenties—with slouchy suits, pajama-esque outfits, newsboy caps, and menswear tailoring finding its way between the opulent fibers of femininity in the fringe, glittering sequins, Swarovski crystals, silk, and (as style puts it), ” vintage Fred Leighton fine jewels” in colours like silver, white, navy, pale cornflower, nude, and pearly gray. 

in the end, though, it left me in something of a quandry.  do contemporary women really want to dress in such elaborate terms?  wasn’t the collection, beautiful as it was, more like a costume parade than a real discussion on modern fashion?  it’s a good question, but perhaps one that begs another in turn: how many among our own acquaintance are really about to drape themselves in these wares?  perhaps instead, we ought look on it as an influence rather than anything so direct; to be sure, the show may in some respects, seem ostentatious, but in others, it might inspire a move towards more formal dressing, away from ‘pink’ sweatsuits, to professionalism.  and isn’t that, irrespective of all the overindulgent displays, a good thing?

spfw: ellus

(images via ffw)

like colcci before it, ellus, which presented its s/s 2012 collection near the close of são paulo fashion week, is less concerned with high fashion in its shows than it is proffering the images of those cool girls we all of us want to be, and began its model parade with aline weber (third from top) striding out, her blonde ponytail bouncing and mirrored shades sparkling, to the strains of some rock band performing in the background. 

although portais da moda’s review suggests something about music festivals as the inspiration for the range, i think we might perhaps be better off calling it for what it is, and acknowledging that the show was as much about making cute girls look cute—albeit with a certain summery rocker-girl edge—as anything specific to do with coachella or glastonbury. 

as a premium denim label, that was, of course, the focus material, though cottons, suede, and knitwear also played into the lineup, with the palette seemingly a juxtaposition of delicate shades and soft neutrals paired with darker colours and flashy prints alongside the occasional metallic: pale yellow, beige, white, indigo, green, silver, tomato, and black were worn next to distressed art prints, plaids, and rainforest patterns. 

perhaps you remember the cropped jacket craze of 2008?  that silhouette reigned in the spring ellus show, often paired with a longer shirt and low-waisted trousers or shorts, creating an elongation of the body.  to be sure, cropped tops circa now were also apparent in the range, as with shockingly short shirtdresses and those tiny shorts which have been everywhere. 

sweeping, rounded lines (especially at the neck area and tails of menswear-style shirts and dresses) reigned, and sequins, metallics, translucent panels, and cut-outs provided some of the major themes for a show mostly concerned with playing up the long and lean to their full advantage. this, then, felt the primary problem with a collection that was, by and large, defined by charmingly inoffensive pieces. 

indeed, it was hard to find fault with the designs—though they may not be especially revolutionary, there were plenty of good things one could spot, and the kind of basic fare one sees bright young things traipsing about the town in.  but the problem felt that, as can sometimes come up when all you do is work with the tall & thin all day, is that the super-skinny lines and short cuts don’t particularly work for those not falling in with this body type.  of course, appearances may be deceptive, and more of an illusion is created than what i think.  but for a brand looking to settle on the middle market, there may be more of a physical range to address that what they appear to anticipate. 

(see the concert/runway video here)

updated: with new images

spfw: osklen

(images via ffw)

if we were all a little disappointed in walter rodrigues’ decision to show a mostly-whitewashed catwalk after his celebration of black women a year earlier, perhaps we can relax now.  osklen’s s/s 2012 range, presented at são paulo fashion week was, according to ffw (trans.), “a tribute to the influences and aesthetics of black culture in Brazil.” 

although the presentation could easily have taken on a stage-y quality, the designers wisely cast a wide variety of models, with no particular skin tone standing out.  thus, the collection, titled “royal black”, made its statement about diversity without lingering too much, or suggesting stereotypes, instead presenting pieces that portais da moda explains (trans.), “alluded to contemporary clothing for fishermen, capoeira and Bahia.” 

the collection made use of some complex materials, including what pdm terms (trans.),  “e-fabrics – fabrics and materials whose origin and production process meet the criteria of fair trade and sustainable development.”  these included PET silk, knit silks, and straw raffia mixed with silk.  other materials included cotton, linen, mesh, neoprene, metallic wire knits, and nylon. 

neutral colours—white, off-white, and black—generally served as the base of the range, while flashier shades like gold, red, caramel, and cobalt wove their way throughout, often in the geometric prints.  the womenswear consisted of jumpsuits, short cocktail frocks, on-trend maxi dresses, short shorts, and sleeveless blouses, often cropped high enough to reveal a splash of skin.  the silhouettes were frequently wide and breezy, giving a summer-y vibe, and paired with platform sandals, bold shades, and the occasional piece of jewelry.

for all its pretty styles, and thoughtful design, however, the collection had a darker side, as well.  pdm writes that, of the accessories (trans.), “bangles made reference to the handcuffs used by the slaves and the glasses, the summer sun.”  meanwhile, they contend that the show’s makeup was intended to give the look of a sunburn (see a good detail on model luana teifke).  additionally, it seemed some of the rough textures were meant to suggest the homespun creations made by the slaves (or poorer people), quickly whipping up inexpensive pieces to wear. 

this left me scratching my head a bit as to the desired intent—as an art form, the statement feels timely and poignant, but does osklen really think i’m now motivated to buy pieces that evoke feelings of slavery?  it’s an excellent question to propose, and one i’ve turned over in my head from time to time—if fashion is considered a ‘soft’ art, and something that should only broach ‘happy’ topics like garden parties and the swingin’ twenties, will it ever be taken seriously?

but, on the other hand, with the main object to sell, do collections inspired by the pain of black culture or the holocaust resonate with the customers?  it’s not an easy question, and certainly not one i have the answers to.  but in the end, i am happy that some designers, such as osklen, choose to address topics a little more weighty, to do something with their creative powers, besides just throwing out another jazzy gold bikini. 

(watch the complete show video here)

updated: with new images

céline resort 2012

(images via style)

the message i took, more than anything, from the 2012 céline cruise show, especially after reading the reviews, was that where creative director phoebe philo chooses to go, people will follow,  it matters not whether you or i, or both, or neither, particularly like her collections; no, come the next season, fashionies will be heading in the direction ms. philo has laid out, the other labels filing in neatly behind. 

in their reviews of the show, both style and vogue are at pains to describe the coolness of the label (” it’s no news that Philo’s accessories have become the bags and the shoes to carry and wear,” writes the former; “The fashion world has a major girl-crush on Phoebe Philo. She’s innately cool, solidly grounded, quietly confident, and simply great-looking,” enthuses the latter), with less of the text actually devoted to details about the oversized office options, often offered in bright colours or covered in wallpaper-like florals. 

although for a couple of seasons, ms. philo was making a strong case for the new school of minimalism, it seems that for resort she’s beyond it: instead, brand logos tees, a striped pajama-like suit, witchy belts, and a plastic trench have taken its place—call it updated basics for the experimental fashionie.  colourblocking, as everywhere, was strong, and with the platform shoes and insouciant slouch of her suit separates, it felt that she had picked up at least a little of the burgeoning love for neo-grunge. 

so where, then, does that leave us?  if a little confused, i will remark that ms. philo’s clothes usually read better on real-life models (she’s the best of them, herself) than the lookbooks/runway, but again, none of that really matters, because at this point, céline is flying so high, it seems to create its own momentum that is merely supported by the editors, rather than pushed by them directly.  there are a few cases of such in the mainsteam industry (chanel, balenciaga), and without a major shakeup such as a designer change, it’s difficult to see that stopping.  it takes talent to get to that point, to be sure, but it’s always a little disillusioning to see labels judged more by the perceptions of their cd than the clothes on their merits alone.