russian fashion week: studio nk

(images via intermoda)

the more time i spend wading through the fashion industry, the more i become infuriated by it.  true, there’s plenty of things to like—and i think we go into these regularly when discussing the various collections—but a point that has been cropping up increasingly for me, like an annoying little fruit fly that manages to buzz into and out of one’s nose quick as you like, is the subject of age-appropriate garb.  now, i’m not a kid any longer, but neither am i dead, which puts me roughly at the spot most consumers of the clothes we generally discuss land (save for, maybe the models and a few well-known younger actresses).  and yet, how difficult it seems to have become for most designers to address said demographic!  when they’re not trying to plaster us into hot pants or stripper heels, it’s a uniform jumper, or something very near (or at least claiming inspiration from such).  we should certainly be able to expect quite a few to have looked beyond this, and to be fair, some do it well, but it’s much rarer than one might hope.   

that’s why russian designer natalia kolyhalova (rus: Натальи Колыхаловой) and her studio nk had such a good s/s 2012 show in moscow.  true, we did see some shorts and some rather sassy young dresses, but the idea of the more refined lady, the one who has lived a few years and isn’t afraid that her elegant trench or sailor-style trousers might cover too much skin.  in fact, she likes it, because she knows that looking good can be as much about what one doesn’t show as what one does.  fancy that.  furthermore, another component of the collection’s extreme appeal was in its breadth.  so often, even when designers (save the always-awesome stella mccartney) address slightly more mature girls, it’s with one or two occasions in mind only. but here, as ria moda points out, pieces were (trans.) “designed for all situations: kits for a relaxed holiday on the beach, elegant pantsuits for walks and gala dresses to the floor with a cascade of fancy drapes.” 

anyway, as the russian site moda news explained, the spring collection was divided into (trans.) “two main themes. First – this is the work of artist-illustrator Antonio Lopez…Second – this co-operation with the Russian team at Racing Riva Moto. The press release states: ‘The mood of the collection of illustrations inspired by the painter Antonio Lopez, who worked in the 70s with Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent, and whose flying girl with flowing hair on motorcycles were signs of the times. Delicate lemon-yellow color, which Lopez was so fond of, was the hallmark of the collection. It introduces and dresses, and blouses, and even translucent silk trench from the wild, subjected to water-repellent treatment, similar to a tulip petal. “

in other words, we were supposed to be seeing pieces that evoke the uniforms worn by racing teams (although not really being a fan of such, i’m not sure whether these are motorcycles, formula one cars, or something similar), and the russian site lady shopping explains that (trans.) “asymmetric form-fitting dresses with flowing draped collars and jacquard weaving on the back decollete resembles the Riva Moto team logo.”  aha.  anyone, if one looked close—particularly with regards to some of the body-conforming frocks with piping, trousers, and jackets (especially those options second and third from the bottom)—there were certain active sportswear flavours, though (perhaps fortunately for some) these were by no means the strongest tastes in the collection. 

for materials used in the collection, the very helpful russian site look at me reports fabrics diverse as silk, cotton, knitwear, chiffon, leather, jacquard (the print of which was drawn from the domes at st. basil’s cathedral), denim, and organza, with swarovski crystals, tie-dyed motifs, piping, striping, and florals decorating the pieces.  the colour palette was quite bright, in keeping with the tone of spring, and varied enough to include the aforementioned neon lemon, snowy white, cherry red, lavender, pale gray, teal, soft rose yellow, sky blue, pale pink, beige, and black.  and though the prints were lovely, ms. kolyhalova was unafraid to proffer simple and classic monochromatic pieces that might live in one’s rotational closet forever. 

the russian site art on at one point during their short review remarked that the range was full of (trans.) “various genres and [pieces] from everyday wear in fairly conservative styles to current fashion models and evening classics.”  i’d pretty much agree with this assessment, although i’d like to add that there was a certain seventies flair that ran throughout the show, cropping up in the leisure suit-type blazer-and-pant combos, flaired legs on low-waisted trousers, bohemian peasant-y frocks, and sexy low dips on the backs of maxi dresses.  to be sure, it would be easy enough to overcome, were one disinclined to want the vintage look (save maybe from that turquoise-y ensemble, third from above), but i rather liked the subtle nod to the girls who lived through the era and might like to give it another turn, albeit in a less flashy way than those younger designers always pressing the suit of bianca jagger throwbacks yet again

the collection (trans.) “symbolized freedom of movement and excitement” said the rfw site, and i think that’s a nice lens to see it through.  there wasn’t a lot here that broke our eyes open to a wholly new universe, and yet there’s something kind of revolutionary and freeing in a range that doesn’t at once encourage its older girls to either emulate their teenage selves (or daughters) or strap themselves into conservative (read: stuffy) workwear.  sure, it wasn’t perfect, and maybe some of the jackets were a little too athletic, the cocktail frocks a little young, and ballgowns a little over-emphasized, but the idea that looking elegantly one’s age (and even catching the eye of an attractive potential date, imagine!) rang fairly true.  so in the end, i’d say it’s a cause for optimism as much as it is a reason to check in on ms. kolyhalova next season.  we can hope for some good outerwear then.  maybe even without fur trim, animal prints, or sequins.  wouldn’t that really be a shock? (see additional images at modeler)

(watch the full collection video here)

toronto fashion week: adrian wu

(images via fashion magazine & bellazon)

if i’m not particularly a fan of crippling—and this turn around, i do mean crippling—shoes, i forever am more theatrical designs, so at first blush i will admit i was transfixed (as i expect many were) by the extremely young canadian designer adrian wu on his first outing at toronto fashion week for s/s 2012.  however—and this we’ll come to in a moment—opinion was divided as anything i’d seen for some time on how well homeboy pulled it off.  that said, i suppose we can give him credit for getting the crowds talking, at least.  “I think theres (sic) a lot of concentration on the buyers, or, the market.  I think that I’m still young and I can take those risks. And I think that’s what I want to bring now. [Bustle designer] Shawn Hewson was like, ‘if you’re gonna come out of the gates, come out of the gates hard.’ So, I think I tried my best,” he commented to front row mag

as he explained on his site, the range “was inspired by Quantum Physics, specifically by the ‘Double slit theory’. The colours and orbs were symbolic representations of  light particles (photons) within the ‘Double slit theory’ experiment. The show was titled ‘Creatures of the Photons’ because the models were mirroring ‘Darwinian Evolution’, where the progression of the pieces correlated with that idea. The paint, frayed edges, and imperfections were a reference to fine art. Lastly, the sexual imagery and androgyny was his continuing reference to his everlasting obsession with the philosophy’s [sic] of sexuality.”  some rather peculiar materials, including lanterns, wire, lace, and tulle went into the making of the collection, which was coloured in shades of white, indigo, cream, mustard, taupe, sky blue, grayed mint, and crimson. 

but what of the critical reception to the pieces themselves?  this, i think, is where things really got interesting.  “Pieces with names like ‘I Know I’m Vain’ and ‘An Uncomfortable Silence’ combined cute with quirky, while lace, tulle and a live orchestra oozed romance — the audience was captivated. Definitely not daywear, but there’s no deny that these gowns make a statement,” was canadian site sweet life’s more positive take on the thing, and mark st. james conducted a rather nice little interview with the designer.  but on the other end, the fashionist opined—in a rather harsh, but nevertheless probably more correct than they knew—that “Wu kicked off the afternoon with a small collection of statement (i.e. totally unwearable) pieces that seemed to confuse most in the audience. Sadly, gaping zippers and unfinished hems distracted from the strangely bizarre gowns. Overall, incredibly creative but more attention to detail was needed for a true Comme des Garcons fashion statement.”

elsewhere, fashion magazine stated that “(i)n looks titled ‘orgasm’ and ‘blue balls,’ tulle-wrapped IKEA paper lanterns overpowered the designs, protruding off of models in shapes suggestive of breasts and other bodily lumps ‘n’ bumps. While the gowns themselves were quite striking in a palette of muted colours and constructed to Wu’s signature voluminous style, they were not the focus of the audience, and apparently not that of Wu’s either. On more than a few pieces, faulty zippers and rogue hem threads stuck out like sore sartorial thumbs.”  and fashion windows perhaps best summed things up with an “(t)he shape of the silhouettes were surprising, and the experimentation seemed, at first, interesting. Giant, yet fragile models walked the runway in their uncomfortable new bodies. Inspired by a strange esthetic, Wu played with volume and fabrics – lots of it. Unfortunately, the fabrics just seemed pin tucked to the back of some dresses, with covered-fabrics lanterns creating the volume. Lanterns, really. Every look seemed handcraft, with raw finitions and no poetic taughts. It looked like the first steps of an artist experimentation, trying to understand volumes, and see how he could recreate this volume and shapes.”

(watch the full collection video here)

updated: with new images

fashion week zagreb: karim bonnet

(images via dfwz)

like the lovely ada zanditon, designer karim bonnet—and his impasse de la defense line—were guests bringing lavish colour and bold style to the fashion week zagreb s/s 2012 event, though this time from paris instead of london.   according to the dfwz site, for his second presentation in croatia, the designer was inspired by (trans.) “Hergé, a Belgian writer and artist,” as well as some sort of mythical “Flower Kingdom,” and, as the croatian site gloria adds, the concept of cinderella’s transformation from rags into a beautiful ballgown.  in short, we were in for a lot of dramatic stunt queen antics, along with some delightfully zany fashion. 


at times the show’s aesthetics rather reminded me of the new york label libertine, what with its bold painted-over vintage fashions, the manifestions of stripy, rather scratchy print and line and colour (particularly that look at bottom), although at times the collection then seemed to gather itself up and instead cough out some spicy piece of lingerie or re-purposed menswear (especially ties), which then made for an utterly new look.  the colour palette danced from bright bubblegum pinks to soft pistachio, cartoon sky-blue, earthy brown, lemonhead yellow, deep ebony, and candy apple red.  prints were similarly variegated, including tartans, florals, stripes, and a whole host of painterly abstracts and checks. 

analysis on the subject was none too deep, perhaps given the eclectic tone of the show, so the croatian site zadovoljna merely drew some allusion to the models rather resembling characters from the show gossip girl (although i’ve never been one to watch it particularly, i don’t get it either; perhaps if they’d grown up in an artists commune somewhere in california’s mendocino county?), while cromoda enthused that it was (trans.) “(v)ery impressive and, in our opinion, the best piece of the show!”  to be sure, there was a lot that was wearable here, even excepting some of those sheer draped numbers or tarty corsets or garter belts. 

indeed, mr. bonnet’s dream, or so it seemed, was to take everyday pieces, whether they be simple blazers, sundresses, skirts, or trenches, and permeate them with his particular fragrance of fabulous madcap-ery, so little seed pearls, bits of feather adorning strappy sandals, scarves, and bows manifested to deck things out.  there was also something of a twenties undertone—maybe not so much in the clothes, but in the styling, what with the fingerwaves in the hair and knotted necklaces—but if anything, i actually would have wished the designer might have gone bigger, the accoutrements not always feeling lavish enough or offsetting his clothes in the way i’d have liked them to (as, for example, aleksey zalevskiy’s s/s 2011 presentation in kiev).  still, it was fun, and with some quite wearable, if original-looking, garments to boot (see additional images at facebook).