ukrainian fashion week: victoria gres

(images via ufw)

victoria gres can be something of a difficult designer to pin down.  although to date, opt has always highly approved of whatever she issued, her usually somewhat vintage-y collections can go from fifties victoriana punk (f/w 2011 in kiev & a somewhat-revamped show in riga) to nouveau elegant bloomsbury group intellectual (f/w 2010) to voluptuous and feminine (with just a touch of girlish glee) fifties/sixties woman (s/s 2011).  not a whit did i disprove of any of these ranges for all that they brought to mind a complete, thoughtful character (or muse, if you will) for the season at hand, but with the s/s 2012 range presented in kiev (where she’s based, although she often also shows in riga), she’s once again completely switched things up, tossing out all her prior ideas to allow a new girl to emerge…

… from the docks of portofino, italy.  totally blond says that the spring range was titled ‘play nice,’ while the designer’s press release states that her girl for spring is on “the wrong side of forty” (i know what she means, and she’s to be credited for addressing the age group, but most i know who qualify probably wouldn’t take kindly to being addressed as such), frolicking in the resort town on the italian riviera, “walk(ing) to the port to buy fresh pastries at the market,” and “go(ing) to the promenade where street musicians play easy-going bossa nova.”  in short, spring’s girl is a jetsetter so comfortable on holiday, she’s practically merged with the town.  and though, interestingly enough, ms. gres never mentioned it, most of the other articles i’ve read addressing the subject touched on a vintage aesthetic in this show, too. 

ukrainian site story broached the idea of brigitte bardot in the fifties-era films babette goes to war (1959) and …and god created woman (1956), which pre-party seconded; this is a girl not waiting at home with a handkerchief while her man’s away at war, they both seemed to say (and though he can send her flowers, she’s already got a bunch, besides).  but the ukrainian site natali preferred to believe that the sixties had influenced ms. gres for spring, and to be quite honest, i was seeing strains of early in this decade, as well.  and though i found this girl confident and comfortable with her sexuality, i didn’t necessarily see her as a vixen; instead, though she knows how to get dressed up and have a good time, i saw her as a lady, neat, refined, and always ready with the proper clothes on hand (and this, indeed, seems to be what the press release suggests).  if nothing else, the designer is to be lauded for her creation of a full wardrobe with this collection.

ms. gres used colour sparingly: black and white were most commonly employed, with flashes of pale french blue, vibrant yellow, and khaki, while stripes, polka dots, and the occasional abstract floral (as below) served as the simple-but-elegant prints.  silk, crepe, chiffon, and some knits were among the materials employed.  then, as the ukrainian blog be in trend describes (trans.) “(m)odels in short jacket suits and knee-length skirts and took to the catwalk in shoes with squat heels of glass. Tall bouffant-cocoons and fat ‘arrows’ on the eyelids amplified the retro-’60s effect. As in the previous winter collection, Victoria used elements of sports jackets with short sleeves” (aha!  there, you see?  more sixties!).  plenty of drape was used on pretty blouses, and sweet, slightly fluid or natural waist-emphasizing knee-length dresses came out in scores. 

tapered and sometimes slightly cropped cigarette trousers, breezy cardigans, pleated dainty silk dresses, and floor-length evening gowns with peek-a-boo slits at the chest were among the other key trends (as were, if you didn’t get it, those slightly clinical-looking short-sleeved blazers).  and, for the first time ever in a victoria gres show, i really began to realize how important accessories were: tote bags, flower corsages, chunky beaded bracelets, floppy sun hats, clutches, medium-wide belts, and flowing scarves all factored in, but they helped to complete the picture, rather than distract from it (see some good close-up accessories shots at chernikoff).  to be sure, her carefree girl of the fall has grown up and turned over something of a new leaf, being the market-going mature type, but, to be sure, her transformation was complete. 

and, if i’m allowed to be brutally honest, it was this that gave me a bit of trouble with ms. gres’ show.  though i’ve in the past stood behind her many forays into different areas, and as thoroughly as i loved fall’s girl, i’m not sure i can stand behind the one for spring.  maybe this isn’t entirely fair, for if it were another designer, i’d be lauding her commitment to the older customer, appreciating her careful and complete analysis of all the elements that woman might need—but it isn’t another designer.  and maybe i just felt that insouciance i’ve always liked that ms. gres instills in her collections was missing today.  to be sure, i’m certain there are many women who will love the range, and disassembled, there were many individual pieces that i quite liked, but what about her customer of old?  where did she go?  but, for all that, it will be interesting to see what comes of it.  next season, no doubt she’ll be turning this on its head, and who knows where she’ll come out.  so perhaps it’s best not to fret.  although i do miss that punky englishwoman so. 

(see the collection highlights video here & brief runway finale video here)


japan fashion week: in-process by hall ohara

(images via wwd)

i’ve in the past expounded at length on the fact of in-process by hall ohara (see a/w 2010, s/s 2011, a/w 2011) being one of my favourite labels at japan fashion week in tokyo.  i’ve liked their playful and colour-popped dark intellectual works, and while i’m not prepared to divest them of their title as one of opt’s beloved houses, i have to admit i was a bit disappointed with the s/s 2012 range.  not because it was any less clever than other concepts they’ve put forth—oh, no—but i at times rather felt the clothes were lacking some of the verve we’d seen in seasons prior, instead, by-and-large a little amorphous and drab for my liking. 

titled ‘ritualistic progression,’ the excellent japanese site fashion press explains that the collection was centered around the (trans.) “(d)evelopment of the European VS American ritual form concept.”  this meant in practice that designers steven hall and yurika ohara were exploring, as the japanese site fashion snap puts it  the juxtaposition of (trans.) “Victorian and Edwardian historical background(s)” and “American mass production.”  as far as i can understand, they consider both to be highly ritualized, and wanted to contrast the prim historic costumes and modes of dress from those british eras with the conveyor-belt sportswear american corporations rain down upon us. 

wwd commented on some of the above notions, but without really offering any type of insight into the ‘why’ of the collection, writing shortly, “London-born Steven Hall and Yurika Ohara played with European tailoring techniques from the Victorian and Edwardian eras and applied them to casual clothing of an American persuasion. That meant working box frills, puff sleeves and gathers into casual separates like button down shirts, cardigans and even a trouser style resembling sweat pants. A few American flags were also incorporated into the mix.”

range materials included cashmere, gingham, cotton, tulle, and plenty of knits, while the palette was based in their old standby black, but with less colour than we’re generally accustomed to (especially for spring); white, pale gray, navy, beige, pinky flesh tone, and occasional pops of french blue, avocado, and red were mixed with, as japanese site change fashion puts it, a (trans.) “blend of star patterns and geometric linear patterns, (and) underlying grid patterns.”  colour-blocking, american flag motifs, subtle checks, a bit of tartan, and screen-printed crown images were also added into the mix to play up on the notions of contrasting american-and-british-isms. 

tall dark roast suggests there was an androgynous quality to the proceedings, and while i’m not sure i always saw that particularly clearly (except maybe in those wholly unfortunate black bowl cuts the models sported), the relaxed, oversized quality of the pieces did serve to obfuscate any curves.  however, leggings and at least a couple of trim dresses (as below) did sport a distinctly feminine aesthetic.  otherwise, giant capes, slouchy cardigans and other knits, casual t-shirts, menswear-style shirts, asymmetrical skirts, and fluid shirtdresses stalked the catwalk, making up the remainder of the offerings (see additional images at jenne chrisville & japanese streets). 

i guess in the end i was left feeling disappointed because of the heavy sportswear tone of the collection.  we’ve seen so many designers over the seasons tackling casual tees and sweatpants that i find in-process to be better than that.  to be sure, their tactic was much different than we’ve before witnessed, and there were probably quite a few pieces one could do a lot with outside of the show (some of the knits, the smaller and more fitted dresses).  but it had such a dark and—instead of the romantic and exciting feelings victorian-influenced shows usually bring up—kind of ‘blah’ demeanor.  the palette was uninspired, and when i was looking for a hint of colour, i was usually treated to just more gray and beige.  also, a lot of the looks came out a little ‘blob’-like, simply overwhelming the girls into a black mass.  again, with a closer inspection, i think there is actually quite a lot that could be done with clothes individually, but for such a concept, and such a label, i expected a bit more than this…

(view the collection video here)

paris fashion week: miu miu

(images via style)

although miu miu (see f/w 2010, resort 2011, s/s 2011, f/w 2011) moved to paris from milan some seasons ago, with designer miuccia prada ever attempting to move the brand forward and away from simply being the little one, the diffusion line, i think it’s rather difficult for the observer not to assess how they measure up, questioning whether points will hold true from one collection to the next (and thereby, it would seem, ascertaining how strongly they might be copied by other labels and held strong into the future).  and this time, though the s/s 2012 range shared with its prada sister an embrace of the womanly, little else remained to tie them (save maybe the colour palette). 

as style did a rather nice job of explaining, i’ll let them take it away: “Talk about a volte-face. At the beginning of Milan, Miuccia Prada made a play for sweetness with zippy car-print dresses, retro maillots, and high-heeled sandals with tail fins. Today at Miu Miu, she opened with a model who let’s just say doesn’t belong to the Natasha Poly school of good looks, wearing a black blouse wrapped with a shape-obscuring matching stole across the chest and a plain gray A-line skirt. Hollywood to hausfrau in less than two weeks. Afterward, she made a point about designing the collection in the ‘15 days’…since her Prada show…Though there were some overlaps—midriff-baring bra tops made a reappearance, as did lace—the emotions the two collections produced were quite dissimilar. There was at once something folksy about Miu Miu and slightly cold. As the show progressed, though, she added color…as well as festive prints. There was nothing to quite raise the temperature like those Marilyn Monroe bathing suits in Milan, but we can see fans warming to the stiff lace tent dresses here or a patchwork print skirt worn with a clashing print top. The leather intaglio mules and boots will be street-style fodder, no doubt. “

meanwhile, grazia opined that “(i)f the Vuitton show was a fashion reverie, Miu Miu was a merciless slap in the face…Piece by individual piece, each pin tucked dress, lace tunic and patchwork skirt will sit neatly with the mood of summer femininity. But the presentation was rooted in a starker reality…Nothing goes down her catwalk by accident. I feared for the models in their pin tucked cotton dresses, given volume with the elastic gathering of a child’s smock. The soundtrack seemed to imply they were like babes in a hostile wood. Dirndl shaped dresses made of a patch work combination that looked like it had come from a homespun rag bag were topped with capes or bubble backed coats that sat innocently off the shoulder. Peplum frills on skirts and capes, rose embellished cowboy boots and little gold framed bags all spoke of childlike dress up. But the catwalk presentation suggested their preoccupation made them unaware of impending dangers. I can think of many ways to express a nihilistic world view. I am not convinced a dress is the best way to do it. But when everyone seems to have reached concensus, you can always rely on Miuccia to start another conversation.”

but cathy horyn of the nyt didn’t take it quite as seriously, instead simply stating that the designer “effectively wrapped up the Paris shows with a snarky Miu Miu show, with a cast of sharp-faced models with matted, middle-parted hair and freakish red eye shadow. Ms. Prada almost challenged you to call them pretty — or ugly. But she certainly had a good time with those traditional feminine frills, like lace, fichu collars and stoles tied with velvet ribbons. Bags and pointy shoes came in dark velvets, and the clothes set a counter mood to all that rich sweetness.”

but wwd, too, viewed it as all very somber and serious, reporting that “(t)his was an unexpected turn after the Fifties elegance and vitality of the Prada show. However, the drab but chic looks were only the beginning of the story — a foundation to build upon, with trapeze lace tunics worn over pleated skirts, and smocked dresses cut below the bust with tank straps on top. Gradually more color appeared until it exploded into folkloric prints, the meat of the collection. They recalled country wallpaper or china patterns in rich combinations of blue, white, red and gold. Whether a dainty, dotted floral on a white background or a bold patchwork, the patterns provided a quotidian contrast to the dressed-up Forties silhouettes cut with a hint of couture volume. Clad in little capes that just covered the shoulders and bow-tied jackets, the girls looked as if they had walked out of an ultrachic Grimm’s fairy tale. To grandmother’s house they go, with fabulous satin mini bucket bags on their arms, and crafty boots that bloomed with bright flowers on their feet.”

and us vogue, as their writers are wont to do, explored at length the relationship between the two labels before eventually winding down to an actual assessment of the range: “What followed looked increasingly like an ode to a petulant film noir ingenue, someone like the dangerous, corrupted characters of Raymond Chandler’s novels. Gradually, she started putting forth lace trapeze dresses and A-line coats in weird, flat colors like gray and burgundy, worn over peculiar patchworks of acid-yellow and burgundy Provençal patterns, and prints involving micro-tile repeats and Chinese lanterns. Amongst all this, the shoes and boots were a riveting mix of Edwardian velvet, cowboy, and ornate embellishment. Sound confusing? It wasn’t, but if only because this collection (even if allegedly spontaneously thrown together in haste) stands as a vignette about how to blend many trends in simple-to-wear ways. The red-shadowed eyes, greasy locks of hair, and pallid complexions are optional, of course.”

and uk vogue was outright thrilled with the outcome: “It started with austere grey A-line skirts with high fitted waists under black straightjacket blouses that crisscrossed the body – with pointed velvet mules and matching short handled bags, these were little girls dressing up, not knowing quite what was in store. Then things started to heat up as a new silhouette took hold: finely pleated teeny weeny gym slips under long ruched tube waistbands over crisp cotton shirts, the tails of which were glimpsed under the flippy skirt. Purple A-line dresses were pulled in to smocked front panels and cut low enough to show off a bra top in contrasting blue. Beautiful lace coats and dresses, some finely pleated and others overlaid in contrasting colours…were accompanied by full-backed satin coats of palest pink or blue…Leather boots of white with yellow roses twisting up them, or red growing up black, rose to mid calf from sculpted heels and then a collection of prints were patchworked together for coats and dresses that brought together the pyjama and upholstery trends we’ve seen about this week.”

finally, as always, the iht’s suzy menkes summed it all up quite well in commenting “(t)rust Miuccia Prada to find a red-eyed, Gothic antidote to all the sweetness oozing from four weeks of runway shows. ‘Sacre de Printemps; springtime, feminine — but important,’ said the designer, whose Miu Miu version of flowers and lace on the closing day of the international season was cute but with a peppering of ghoulishness. That came from the russet eye makeup, in the little capes tied with velvet bows and in the feeling that the patchworks of floral prints were what the French would describe as ‘Les Fleurs du Mal’ or ‘flowers of evil,’ suggesting Charles Baudelaire’s poetry of decadent eroticism…The show opened with black and gray outfits, A-line skirts and cape tops. Then, as crunchy lace coats appeared, flowers sprouted — first on calf-high boots, then as patterns on bags and later as a floral print peeping through lace…Who could make patchworks of flowers and bucket bags seem anything but innocent? Just ask Ms. Prada.”

as a final thought, one thing i’ve always found intriguing about miu miu is its place as the last on the paris schedule.  because of that, it not only serves as a punctuation on the sentence, but gets in a final thought before anyone else has a chance to co-opt or borrow from any of the ideas (or the styling).  thus, though it may just be a part of ms. prada’s influence on the industry at large, i’ve toyed with the notion that something of what we see here will always peep up in a collection or two (or sometimes even more heavily than that) in subsequent seasons, like high school kids borrowing from the aesthetic of a particularly cool senior who graduated the spring before.  maybe these ideas are simply in the air, but after so much goodwill and acid colour for spring, i’m wondering if one of the first notions for the fall we’re seeing just now, and we’ll get something much darker and more seductive (with, perhaps, a re-hash of some of the early nineties gothic tones, ripe for a revival) in the coming season. 

(watch the full fashion show video here & see additional images at t magazine)

paris fashion week: chanel

(images via ny mag)

i’ve always stated in the past (rather unequivocally, methinks) that while i’m no particular fan of karl lagerfeld, the man (see here if you need evidence of why), i’ll be forthright and honest about his talents, in particular as they apply to the house of chanel (see s/s 2010 hc, f/w 2010, f/w 2010 hc, resort 2011, s/s 2011, s/s 2011 hc, pre-fall 2011, f/w 2011, f/w 2011 hc, resort 2012).  however, there is a downside in that so many fawning types (perhaps afraid of his influence, to say nothing of his barbed tongue) cannot see a wrong he produces and oft, or so it would seem to me, have their minds made up about a collection far in advance of the time it actually hits the catwalk.  this has felt the case in the past couple of seasons, during which the man has, to say the least, felt off in his game.  was this the end, i wondered, and were we, from now on, simply to endure the simpering with no superior clothes on the other end to redeem it?

to be sure, mr. lagerfeld has had an off season, from time to time in the past.  but two or three in a row were virtually unheard of, and i was beginning to find my fingernails getting shorter when, once again, the man proved that behind all his viciously obnoxious comments there was one of the most beautiful fashion minds in the business ever a-spinning with his aquatic-themed s/s 2012 range.  interestingly enough, a couple of other houses showing in paris—givenchy and alexander mcqueen—exhibited collections touching on similar themes, but (and you can see from this, considering the sarah burton fan that i am, just how sincere i’m being) neither was able, all the same, to touch chanel with mr. lagerfeld at the top of his craft as he was again for spring.  

to set the stage, style explained that “(t)he Grand Palais was transformed by huge, blinding white sea shapes—corals, shells, sea horses, stingrays—and Florence Welch arose like Botticelli’s Venus on the half shell to sing…What the water gave Karl was the kind of acute overview that only he could turn into a dazzling collection. He’d been musing on the fact that forms as modern as anything designed by the architect Zaha Hadid have been shaped at the bottom of the ocean by natural processes taking millions of years…there was an impressive, graphic modernity shaped by lengthy natural processes (Karl’s thoughts) in most of the 80 or so outfits that strolled around today’s massive set. Lagerfeld said he wanted lightness. He’d used new fabrics even he didn’t know how to define. They brought an iridescent mother-of-pearl shimmer to the collection—the lightness literally shone through. That was also why Lagerfeld strung pearls, instead of belts, around waists. And Sam McKnight dotted pearls through the models’ slicked-back hair, too.”

a dreamy-eyed uk vogue described “delicate sea creatures darting out from the white in cream dresses of sea foam lace, pearlised tweed suits with full skirts and jackets cut shoulder-blade high at the back to show off pearl-studded spines, iridescent sequinned dresses falling to pale green ostrich feather skirts and chiffon finely gathered every which way across the bodices of dresses that had been caught in the tide. Handheld, pearl encrusted sea shells made for clutch bags that will surely be next season’s most desired status symbols, and silver leather ones were creased in every direction from the centre – twinkling like the sun had just caught the crest of a wave. Flat soled metallic silver booties, pearl belts and little bags dripping with silken seaweed coils accessorised these sea nymphets, and colour bled in by way of pink and black blurred coral bed prints. One dress rippled with black-edged, pink printed chiffon scales, another had puffed black lace sleeves and fell in tiers of pale sequins, its top half overlaid in translucent chiffon to camouflage it just slightly from a predator’s gaze.”

elle, meanwhile, pointed out that “(t)he ocean proved the perfect inspiration for Chanel and married beautifully with the house styles. In its simplest form, white woven elbow-length dresses came with a string of pearls as belts and waffle weave tops and swing skirts had a plastic piping zig zag across it. In its more elaborate guise, bubbly fabric which looked just like sea-foam clung to the body as if any moment it would disappear. Pearlescent boxy jackets had blown-out backs and a seaweed illustration was used on perspex swing macs, sexily revealing the swimwear beneath. The latter cocktails dresses were so intricate they could have been borne from a couture show. Organza was folded origami style to make a pleated dress, silver metal seaweed hemmed and bibbed a pastel blue shift, lace was designed to look like algae spiralling from hips and collars while pearls and beading were scattered liberally over the tops of pleated, colour swirl skirts.”

in a rather humorous moment, grazia gaped that “(almost) EVERYONE is wearing flats. Yes, really. Take a gawp at those sci-fi metallic booties with black zips up the front.”  remembering that it’s chanel, though, and the concept of the chic little ballet flat hardly a foreign one, i wasn’t particularly sure why they were so stunned.  however, i was nevertheless quite pleased to see heel-less footwear, not the least because it has been growing increasingly more medieval/class-distinction-y and weapon-like with the ‘only extreme fashion lubricates the will to buy’-style recession economy thinking.  but, as mr. lagerfeld is wont to do the reverse of what others are doing (as with the clog movement of s/s 2010), only to see them follow him, this bodes good things for those inclined to flats, indeed. 

elsewhere, the telegraph merrily beckoned to “(b)ring on those 70 models in their whisper-light, silk gazaar jewelled dresses and airy loosely woven tweed, flared, cropped jackets and gathered skirts, as they marched around giant shells and fish to Wagner’s Valkyrie. The theme was aquatic and Lagerfeld didn’t spare the (sea) horses. Glorious iridescent weaves, rippling ruffles, metallic Chelsea boots and an almost entirely creamy, nacreous coloured collection. As ever, you get a bit of everything with a Chanel show – narrow skirts, fuller ones, dresses, a strong statement about white, but also some aqua, a bit of black and a dollop of pink. But overwhelmingly it was about lightness – and those feathery tweeds and chiffon ruches practically floated away. Pretty? You bet, but without being cloying. Those conch-shaped bags won’t be denting sales of the 2.5 anytime soon mind you, but everything else? Bellissima.”

and a similarly transfixed us vogue reported that “Lagerfeld deconstructed some of the house symbols. Coco’s iconic pearls were used as buttons or as belts to girdle his round-shouldered dresses, and Lagerfeld banished her signature braid trims altogether in place of fine black ribbon set in geometric blocks across pale suiting, a detail inspired by the ‘fabric paintings’ of German abstract artist Blinky Palermo…Lagerfeld worked with innovative techno fabrics to create the effect of light through water. Airy waffle-textured organzas and iridescent synthetics, open-weave tweeds and knits, and a palette of sea foam, shell pink, and mother-of-pearl (anchored with the inevitable black) created an otherworldly effect…changeante organza ribbons were appliquéd to trail across little shift dresses like seaweed swaying in a riptide; silvery embroideries or a frosting of nacreous sequins spilled down black dresses like the phosphorescence on a moonlit sea. Swimsuits were anchored by pearl clasps or veiled in clear plastic ‘virtual jackets’ printed with a tracery of fine black swirling lines like seaweed washed up on a seashore.”

we even found the nyt’s cathy horyn in a rousingly good mood.  “This show had seemingly everything going for it,” she began, “beginning with Mr. Lagerfeld’s new pared-down suit silhouette: a lean skirt or dress in ivory or black wool worn with an opened, cropped jacket. No Chanel braiding or chains. One jacket was embroidered along the edges with slivers of mother-of-pearl, with the subtle decoration repeated on the matching dress. Jackets were closed with ties formed from the linings, often printed chiffon. Other jackets were sliced open in the back, among them a cool black motorcycle jacket shown with little shorts. Many fabrics had a glistening effect, achieved from fabrics woven, in some cases, with glass fibers or other materials that reflect Mr. Lagerfeld’s obsessive interest in techniques that give lightness to clothes. On the models’ feet were flat booties in silver leather or white with black lines. The shapes were soft, mostly short and slightly rounded, with a sense of mobility.”

showstudio launched into one of their epic reviews, the writer merrily prattling on, as they tend to do when excited: “once again his vision was all-encompassing, the models drenched in Chanel down to the terribly Coco pearls dotting hair and faces like air-bubbles, or running down the back of a bared spine like a row of buttons. It’s a mark of Lagerfeld’s continual genius at reinventing that Chanel tweed-suited wheel that neither those touches of theatricality, nor the elaborate aquarium set, nor Florence Welch…could distract attention from the clothes on show. Lagerfeld sucked the oceans dry for inspiration, his aesthetic exhausting every nook and cranny of the briny deep…The colours of the clothes were pulled from shells: pale pink, every shade of ivory, flashes of black and blues from the deepest navy to sun-bleached pastel. The iridescence of nacre was reflected (quite literally) in minute sequin embroideries, skirts swelling and cresting about the body.”

“There were also the visual puns Lagerfeld loves to throw out every now and again, the organza sliced into scales, the lace worked to look like seaweed crusting a model’s hips, the handbags shaped like clustered branches of coral or witty, oversized conch-shells. There was even a nod to wet-look, transparent PVC laid across jackets and inset into swimsuits…The lightness in these Chanel clothes was the striking thing, most marked in gossamer evening wear, chiffon skirts swirling around the legs like a tidal current, ruffle upon ruffle built up to resemble the ocean breaking against the shore. That evening statement was short and sweet, the flounced volume bubbling up around the knee, a way to make these complex dresses seem breezy and easy… Lagerfeld can cut tweed and make it look like chiffon. He can cut chiffon and make it light as air. Despite its entertaining visuals and textural richness, the really entrancing thing about this collection was that, despite Lagerfeld’s timeless design and the painstaking Chanel craftsmanship that means these clothes will last for centuries, the whole thing felt as ephemeral and fleeting as ocean spray.”

the wsj, which sometimes irritates me with the list-like ‘reviews’ and chronicles of celebrities packing the audience, was all agog at the prettiness, and here, ironically enough, their child-like sense of wonder seemed fitting (probably because everyone else was channeling some similar emotion).  “This collection is a testament to textile technology. Iridescent threads and ribbons were woven into some fabrics, and others were spun to a frothy effect. Assembled in an outfit, the clothes were reminiscent of sea life—clams, seaweed and scaly fish. Shoes had heels shaped like round sea urchins,” they chirped, marveling over the idea that the “(m)odels had faux pearls attached to their hair and bodies, turning them into sea life as well.”

“They’re underwater.  It’s very clean and pure and fresh. It’s an unpolluted aquarium,” allure quoted lead makeup artist ,” peter philips as saying.  “Do you know Esther Williams, the underwater ballerina? She always had white kohl liner underneath her eyes, so I thought, ‘Let’s go with that’,” he added, as the site explained that he used “silver-flecked, sheer white cream shadow that made the eyes look wet…(t)here’s a touch of peach-pink blush on the cheeks and chin, just to separate the face from the neck.” they also noted that mr. lagerfeld encouraged mr. philips to create “pearl piercings,” so he “affixed Swarovski pearls to the ears, nose, and eyebrows using makeup glue.”

meanwhile, lead hairstylist sam mcknight said that his vision was of “classy mermaids. Chanel-maids! The pearls [in the hair] are Chanel pins. If you look closely, you’ll see the double Cs on them.  Every girl is wearing seven or eight, so we’ve got about 800 altogether.”  and though he was aiming for a damp look, in lieu of scraggly hanging strands like we most of us have when just emerging from the pool, he gave girls a mussed chignon.  “Wet hair that’s down is a little sad.  The idea is, you’re in the sea and come out, push your hair back, and throw it into a chignon.”

the la times writer was a bit whiny, expecting us to sympathize that they couldn’t be there (goodness knows, one can’t possibly write anything of value on a fashion show without having their boss foot the bill to sit courtside in a fancy get-up with all the other writers! the internet with all its hi-def photos can’t possibly provide opportunity to offer valuable insights, even when one is sitting far away! yes, we all of us internet writers know that well, right?  but i digress!), and writing only that “(t)he angular accents on the suits looked fresh, offsetting the light, spongy tweeds in nearly irridescent colors. I also like the silver gladiator sandals, the chain-handle bag-as-wrapped-present and the pearls in the hair. Lagerfeld seemed to play a little with transparency on a couple of looks. And for evening, the sea of short dresses trimmed with petals and trailing streamers made the models look like wondrous creatures from the deep.” 

“Suits,” proclaimed wwd, “included two new variations: one with a short, unconstructed jacket, the other, with a cutaway back. There were countless others, including a jaunty, pearl-encrusted tweed over a knit dress with fluffy tulle pom-poms and a sporty topper beaded to opalescent effect. Decorative motifs ran from spare (black lines forming random angles on dresses and suits) to girly (long, wide blue ribbons appliqué) to outright flamboyant (exuberant ruffles). And in seaworthy mode, Lagerfeld showed swimwear the Chanel way, all white and sometimes under the cover of plastic. Gorgeous though the clothes looked to the audience, full appreciation requires more intimate viewing, especially because the girls, all 70 of them, walked the show faster than Lagerfeld talks. They emerged from a domelike cave lined in iridescent bubbles. Next to that opening was perched a giant clam, and next to the clam, a harp, lacquered in white.” 

and, finally, we have suzy menkes of the iht: “Mr. Lagerfeld plumbed the ocean depths and rose to fashion heights. He changed the Coco look from safe to sporty and introduced modern fabrics, like the eerie transparent plastic jacket cascading with stones that was worn so casually over a swimsuit. But, above all, the collection was indisputably and irrefutably Chanel, almost every piece turning on the pearl that is one of the Coco icons. ‘I love the sea — it’s very mysterious, and fish scales seem so modern; there was everything but mermaids!’ Mr. Lagerfeld backstage said… What could have been a kitsch romp on the ocean floor turned into a magical show where energy came from the sporty attitude of models who walked the white sand space in silver shoes with conch-shaped heels. The swell of waves was caught in a blue pattern that broke the surf-white color palette.”

“By replacing the signature Chanel chains with the equally iconic pearls, Mr. Lagerfeld lightened up the day wear. The show started with the Chanel suit, stripped of chains and gilding, the jackets cropped short to a waist belted with pearls and with sleeves ending above the wrist. Linear dresses crisscrossed with graphic lines sung less of the sea than of a modern cityscape. But a return of fitted jackets, worn over skirts frothing with feather-light fabric, was a spirited way to move into evening. The workmanship of the lacy and mesh dresses was so light that they could have dressed sprites on a sandy beach rather than sophisticates for cocktails. This tour de force highlighted the power and energy of a brand that Mr. Lagerfeld seems to have right under his skin. For Chanel — and for fashion — the designer is a pearl beyond price.”

so there you have it.  once again, or so it would seem, virtually everyone with any association at all with the fashion industry—or just the ability to hack away a few letters at a computer—was thoroughly transfixed by mr. lagerfeld’s spring work.  but unlike in the past couple of seasons, which have been a little uneven, this was deserved as could be, and one of the designer’s most superior ranges of recent years.  true, we could argue that with all the shell motifs (and how many people did that florence welch-as-venus comparison?) and pearls, there was something a little ham-handed, but even then i’m not sure that would be fair, given how delicately it was treated (and frankly, just how exquisite everything looked).  so we’ll pull it up as another win.  we shouldn’t begrudge him that, because, after all, he deserves it, and to be honest, i’d rather he earn his reputation than simply acquire it through his position of power.  after all, this way, really, everyone wins. 

(watch the complete runway show video here & see additional images at t magazine)