(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)