couture week: bouchra jarrar

(images via vogue)

it’s interesting to see the way in which so many critics react during their introductions of a new bouchra jarrar collection each couture season.  all at once, they want to assure us that it comes much more along the lines of ready to wear, seeing as how the clothes are sold in stores, but ultimately, i’m not really sure why they take such pains, especially now with the lines drawn so thin and so many frequently comparing sarah burton’s work at alexander mcqueen and alber elbaz’s at lanvin to haute couture.  indeed, all that i think we really need to realize in order to better understand ms. jarrar’s work is that her narrative speeds pleasingly along from season-to-season and that it can hold its own with the rest of the couture giants.  what could be better than that?

and so, the designer’s latest collection, for the a/w 2012 season, followed along the lines of the path she’s set forth in prior works (see s/s 2011, a/w 2011, s/s 2012), though as ever evolving into the next vision. and for this go-round, “I explored femininity, right up to the red lips,” the republic quoted the designer as explaining, going on to add that “(t)he 22 highly wearable dresses — in a gentle palette of lavender, black and white — floated by with clean draped collars and backs with effortless elegance. But the simplicity of the collection was deceptive…’I stayed to the spirit of haute couture by working with [francois] Lesage’s atelier,’ Jarrar said.”

meanwhile, according to style, ms. jarrar “opened with tailoring. It’s as precise as ever—she cuts a mean pair of trousers. But notice the ruffle at the hem of the first look’s ivory vest. That small detail told the whole story of the collection, which was notable for its new sense of femininity. ‘Everything has a waist,’ she said backstage. ‘It’s very constructed, but A-line and flared.’ A year ago, her jackets were boxy and her frocks were almost egg-shaped. Here, belts played a starring role, whether cinching dresses made from shirting stripe fabric or buckled over the black, peplumed bustier that topped a pair of gabardine pants.”

and as the site concluded, “(w)omen have fallen for Jarrar because she’s given them something new to wear for work. This season, seduction is the order of the day. A silk gown in a lily print turned to reveal a plunging draped back. Another long dress was made from shifting layers of georgette and crepe de chine in black and a green she aptly called ‘very profond’; the effect was captivating. And, yes, she even did a beaded gown, or at least it was partly beaded on its bodice. Lovely all around.”

elsewhere, writing for the nyt’s t magazine, ex-vogue editor-type (i think?) sally singer noted that “Bouchra Jarrar, the ex-Balenciaga-ite who shows her ready to wear during couture, consistently offers terrific options that pull off the difficult fashion trick of being both directional and timeless,” before salivating in particular over (fourth from top) “a trench vest, cut close and neat as a pin, finds its match in a black gabardine skirt pleated to resemble an umbrella at half mast.”

and finally, after giving the necessary couture vs. rtw?! oh goodness!  oh my! what shall we do!?-type intro, vogue wrote that “the fact that Jarrar’s clothes stand up as a new-generation French must-see brand in such a context is an accolade in itself. She has a reputation as a designer with a subtle, pulled-together touch, working in the vein of masculine-feminine tailoring, a point of view she’s building with increasing sureness each collection. But she’s moving on, too. ‘My work’s always a continuation, season to season,’ she said. ‘But this time I wanted to explore my more feminine side.’ And what a success it proved.”

She began with more tailoring, cutting jackets as sleeveless trench-vests, cinched at the waist with leather belts, and scrolled, asymmetric frills suggesting peplums, at first shown over pants. Then there were skirts, too, flaring into full A-line shapes, a new silhouette she then developed into dresses with softly draped cross-over tops, some of them cut from pinstriped voile reminiscent of men’s shirting material. Essentially, Jarrar is building an effortless, functional wardrobe for young women with a discerning eye for clothes that have a dignified modernity about them…She has a built-in understanding of lifestyle and appropriateness, and it’s a pleasure to watch her blossom.”  well said, indeed. 

(see the show video here)

berlin fashion week: michael sontag

(images via mbfwb)

sometimes when i find myself a little vexed about all of the designers opt is compelled to cover for a particular event (especially as the site seems to be these days perpetually behind), i try to flip that thinking my telling myself it is actually a very good thing indeed that said event has so many ateliers worth reviewing.  to be sure, after prior seasons of skimming the few designers i found worthy at berlin fashion week (and that isn’t meant to slam those who have regularly exhibited and are talented, of which there are several), these past two editions have found the allotted time crammed with so many exciting names, in the end i’m not at all sorry to finally switch focus to another city. 

anyway, one such designer that we’re speaking of this time around—and i’m fairly sure i’ve seen his work before, but was never as drawn to it as this—is michael sontag, whose s/s 2013 work reminded me rather strongly of the arty, clean, and sometimes minimalist-cum-avanty line of former berlin mainstay vladimir karaleev, whose work was curiously absent this time around.  well, for the moment, at least, he seems to have appointed a temporary cushion-holder/warmer (i nevertheless quite hope he was just taking a brief respite from the lineup). 

but!  i’ll stop reminiscing about the past (and yammering on), and we’ll get to what the critics actually have to say about the topic at hand.  as the german site fashion insider reported that this was the designer’s debut into footwear, modabot rather shortly informed us that (trans.) “(t)he designer wrapped his models in minimalist outfits, lots of volume, draping and inclined seams ran through the collection, Familiarly presented. Black was the dominant colour, which was supported by white, beige and earthy orange. Shoulders were emphasized with the coats, and wide sections were made from the very wearable collection that seemed stylistically heterogeneous.”

reflecting that mr. sontag particularly seemed to like to play with contrasts (as the white stripes on the otherwise completely black looks, as at top), les mads reported that (trans.) “(t)he trend to show belly thanks to a short top found itself in the collection.In addition, almost boxy looks with strong shoulders [and]…flowing silky dresses with asymmetrical hem. Favorite of the collection, however, was for me the one shown with a black bandeau top and pants in beige, and an airy summer dress in white. Unfortunately, you need a steel stomach to be able to embark on such a look.“  but i’d like to point out that for exits such as the one they were drooling over (similar to below), mr. sontag wisely kept things from getting too salty by teaming his tops with high-waisted trousers and an over-jacket.  

meanwhile, the german yahoo! take was that (trans.) “(t)his builds on last year. Where last summer earthy tones and mainly flowing cuts dominated the catwalk, you could see today a lot of black and white also in loose-fitting, but stiffer material creations. Typical for Sunday: draping! Sometimes you do not know where to send the fabric, he has so carefully woven together. Yet that is what he wants to achieve. He…wants to blur the traditional boundaries of fashion and create a universality that is detached from parameters such as fashion season, trend and consumer age…Catches in the new collection…: cape-like draped shoulders, voluminous pleated trousers, very large jackets and coats, black tow of white, flowing dress pants, fall colours like mustard yellow and burgundy.”  

and finally, styleranking’s take was that (trans.) “This incredible draping. It’s hard to look away. With every movement of the fabric curls and raises gentle waves. Like a forest lake, when suddenly the wind comes up. A quiet, subtle play with volume and movement. The seams are asymmetric. These are not just clothes but fabric sculptures. Sometimes the substance adapts to the body, sometimes followed by the cutting abstract rules…the bandeau tops? Yes, really: Bare skin between the strips of fabric on top and a skirt that is strangely baggy around the hip. Landscapes envelope the shoulders of the girls as protective bubble. Maybe they’ll need it, they seem vulnerable, and out there so there is lots of noise and crowds. Not here, fortunately. It is so nice and quiet. Peace at last.”  and an absolutely breathtaking (if softly so) collection.  yes, really.  

(view a brief collection video here)

spfw: tufi duek

(images via ffw)

even though opt has been following the house the same amount of time as it has covered são paulo fashion week, even though as i page through their archives (see s/s 2011, f/w 2011, s/s 2012, f/w 2012) i can enunciate for you clearly how much i love the architectural work of designer eduardo pombal…i can’t really precisely draw it all together in the kind of pithy sentence i’d like to about tufi duek.  in short—theirs is the kind of intellectual, structurally sound and beautifully cut clothing that leaves one happy to know more deeply about fashion, yet challenging just the same. 

and now, much as i’ve loved and respected mr. pombal’s work these past seasons, i’m loath to proclaim a particular collection a favourite, even as the s/s 2013 range was superior work, indeed.  maybe i should just say it’s on par with everything else, and leave it there.  but i will say this was one of the rarer times the designer played with colour (he seems to prefer his rich, deep, furniture-like tones)—at least since the first time we were introduced to his atelier—and it looked good.  that, and at times i thought i saw hints of balenciaga’s retro-futurism, and alber elbaz at lanvin’s swooping lines. 

but more to the point.  the brazilian site ffw claimed that among mr. pombal’s inspiration (trans.) “The book ‘Botanica Magnifica’ by Jonathan Singer, textures, shapes and colours of flowers,” all clocked in.  they also wrote that these highly arty photographs of mr. singer’s served as the designer’s starting point; “(w)ith refinement and intelligence, the designer found new ways of working with this reference. There is a picture of flower, but they are everywhere: in beautiful dresses in strong tones that punctuate the collection, with six layers of fabric (the brand used 15 meters of silk for making each of them) in the layers that form petals; in tulle to make a reference to material that protects the flower of the sun and insects; in sequins; yarn cut into 1 mm sheets, which appear under the skirts, noting that the flowers are also full of secrets.”

count on tufi duek to turn the tried-and-true inspiration of flowers into an intellectual discussion.  but, carrying on, the site wrote that (again, trans.) “(t)he most important point is the work of overlapping layers and textures, a strong characteristic of Pombal.It is indeed a fine and beautiful sensuality, which results in jackets, skirts and dresses of desire, especially the look Aline Weber [second from above] wore at the end of the presentation. Here is the most beautiful thing in common between the universe of flowers and the parade.”

meanwhile, according to harper’s bazaar, this was a (trans.) “Click here to find out more!(m)ix of textures and materials in which sporty looks dominate…[jackets] made of tulle and well combined with voluminous skirts and embroidered waistcoats share space with delicate…jackets…[there were s]imilar proportions of ruffles, [which was saw on] skirts, tops and dresses made with delicate organza….Basically, it is practical clothing for work and of a ringing style. The trick is in the precise combination of fabrics, sometimes organic, sometimes of super technology, such as very fine, laminated fringes.”

“A collage of references and flirting with a lot of macro trends have shaped Tufi Duek’s summer show,” (trans.) was how vogue saw it.  “The consistency…and strength that marked the last collection of the bran, [was present again in the spring range], which bet on a retro-futuristic sci-fi [aesthetci]. The idea of over-developing fabrics as trivial as laise, for example, was good, and the attempt to refine sportswear through parkas fabric made of transparent fabric [was] brilliant. Combining top sporting miniskirts with plastic fringe was also a good platform. It was just missing a little bit of whimsy in time to give the finish to all these ideas, making them objects of desire to wear.”

elsewhere, i believe the oft-difficult-to-truly-satisfy brazilian website chic gloria kalil really understood my questions, summing things up in their intro by writing that (trans.) “designer Eduardo Pombal follows with the difficult balance between global and regional, chic and sporty, techno and craftsmanship.”  but on the other hand, they made some interesting points in stating that “(i)t was more urban and when they entered the exciting colours, like pink with green military trousers and a waxed chevron top. Or the block of black with pink, with incredible motocross pants. Eduardo Pombal is to Tufi Duek is like Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein. If not scoring a great goal, he won on points.”

anyway and finally, as ever, closet online summed things up simply but well, giving us a high note to leave on (trans.): “The clothes were inspired by the photography book Botanica Magnifica, in which textures of flowers and gardens prevailed, with delicate lines and subtle large [images]. Gowns were accented by lightly fluttering and slight transparency, blouses with structured shoulders, skirts with shiny ruffles, and capri pants were present in the collection. Laise was the [main fabric]...In the colour chart, there were two candy colours – light and soft colours like green and yellow, contrasting with stronger colours like pink, coral and black. Daniel Hernandez, in charge of production, created for models loose, smooth and slightly disheveled hair and clean makeup, especially the full red lips.”

(watch the full fashion show video here)