paris fashion week: carven

(images via vogue)

so.  as i was paging through the images of carven’s s/s 2013 show at paris fashion week, my first instinct was to pass it by—after all, save for a brief glimpse at their f/w 2012 show, we haven’t yet discussed their work, and besides, as you’re often reminded (by meee!) we’re already inundated with more than enough stuff to talk about.  but honestly, i kind of came around after i realized there was a lot of stuff here to flatter the older girl. 

that will probably seem silly while you’re checking out elsa sylvan’s cleavage (above), or noting the cut-outs on several of the toile du jouy-esque printed frocks, and i’ll certainly allow that there was a celebration of the younger girl present in designer guillaume henry’s work as well, but if you looked closer, there were a lot of nice, tailored suiting separates (check out magda laguinge’s cherry red blazer, at top, for a nice example), as well as some very desirable trenches. 

thus, after this season in particular has heard me bleating at length about the absence of enough decent clothes for the woman in her thirties and beyond (as we’ve just heard out of me at the christian dior show, for example), so rather than continue to lament at length, it seems like the right thing to do to simply celebrate when i feel a house gets it right.  and while there isn’t anything inherently wrong with celebrating the younger girl, with designer clothes at the prices they are (and because, you know, the older ones need something to help them along, too), it seems those a little more chronologically advanced need a bump in that respect, too. 

and so.  critics’ hour?  “It was the designer’s recent sojourn to rustic, rural Rajasthan, India,” said us vogue, “where he discovered sepia-toned photographs of British colonial settlers that informed the dusty beige, sand, and stone palette peppered with spicy reds and an uplifting Toile de Jouy print, which was featured across his new, longer calf-length skirts and fit-and-flare dresses…these pieces may not make it into your suitcase for a trip to the Indian subcontinent, but certainly promise to travel well from the office to a glorious summer soirée.”

and fashionologie weighed in that “(h)ourglass blazers — many with heart-shaped cutouts at the midriff — were a big story here; those topped everything from lushly flared skirts to jaunty ankle-length trousers. And while the color palette and fabric choices — leather, wool, tweed — may have been less whimsical than we’ve come to expect from a designer who’s made Carven synonymous with kinder-chic, there was still plenty of playfulness on offer; a series of dresses and suits done in toile safari prints in navy and red were especially endearing.”

“The cheeky cutouts,” sang style, “the snug little sweaters, and the trim and neat tailleurs that made today’s front row look like a convention of naughty prep school girls all made reappearances on the runway. The difference was this collection’s new mood. ‘Lost in India in the middle of the twentieth century’ was how Henry described it, though he also cited influences like the Art Nouveau star Émile Gallé and African safaris. How we describe it: moodier, sophisticated, more grown-up.”

“That’s thanks to new silhouettes like fuller, A-line skirts,” they continued, “in place of last season’s bubble minis and elongated, belted jackets that looked almost stately. Fabrics like a thick, substantial tweed seemed richer (not to mention fall-like—designers are shrugging off seasons more and more), but Henry hasn’t lost his cheekier sensibilities. The safari print featured not just animals but also caravans and binoculars-wielding tourists. As for those cutouts, they were everywhere you looked: heart-shaped at the waist of suit jackets, above the bust on a coat-dress, on the sides of a racer-back sheath.”

according to the examiner, “(h)e stuck with his signature styles of cutouts, prim dresses, and naughty school girl tailoring, a look that has preppy girls raving every season. There was a clever introduction of A-line skirts into the collection, giving even more of a streamlined, prim and proper look to the elegant dresses. Another standout that was new to the brand was the elongated jackets that were belted with the skirts, giving a more sophisticated look to the collection.”

meanwhile, the iht’s suzy menkes reported that “‘Art Nouveau, Hector Guimard and the idea of explorers in 1910,’ said Guillaume Henry after the Carven show, which was a continuation of the designer’s spirit of youthful freshness and decency. There were cutouts at the chest or under the arms, which, like the undulating hemlines on dresses, did seem to follow the curlicues of the famous Guimard wrought iron at Paris Métro stations. But the openings never looked sexy or suggestive. Mr. Henry took his themes gracefully, with a toile de Jouy narrative print made up of African animals on a white dress; in the colonial theme were butterfly brooches and butterfly-shaped bags in animal prints.”

meanwhile, wwd related that the designer “laced his signature blend of retro elements — the trim Seventies shoulder line and exaggerated collar; the bell shapes of Sixties couture, here modified for the modern wearer — with the inky colors and delicate curlicues of Art Nouveau. Henry name-checked architect Hector Guimard, whose influence could be traced to the crafty lacework, the inverted curve of a hemline and wing-shaped cutouts on the chests of soft dresses and structured coats. Cutouts have become an effective signature for Henry, bringing novelty to the look without feeling forced.”

and they concluded that “the designer said he had imagined the adventurous spirit of a woman traveling to new frontiers in the 20th century. ‘I thought about being delicate in a tough environment,’ he said, noting the fabrics: Panama canvases, a thick waffled material, and woven silk and linen that looked like tweed. If it appeared that Henry was anticipating a chilly spring, the heft enhanced the silhouettes’ sophisticated volume and weight.”  word.  although i think we could note that last part about a lot of collections we’ve seen recently. 

anyway.  and finally!  uk vogue wrote that “(s)hin-grazing bouclé tweed trousers (a new development) were cleverly cropped at just the right length to be flattering with Robert Clergerie’s high buckled shoes, or if preferred by his new, more mature customer, a brogue. Sleeveless blouses, knitwear, belted woollen overcoats (surprisingly weighty for a spring/summer collection) and laser-cut leather ensembles in petrol blue, olive, red wine and taupe rolled out like an expertly edited capsule wardrobe – there was something for any occasion.”  to be sure.  and that’s what ultimately drew me to it, even after initially being ready to give it all up.

(watch the full fashion show video here)

paris fashion week: christian dior

(images via style)

oh, sigh.  once again, this is going to be a tricky one.  how is it i happened to walk into another trap so soon? i think we all know that throughout the seasons, just like the house itself, opt has had its ups and downs with christian dior (see a/w 2010, resort 2011, s/s 2011, a/w 2011, s/s 2012, a/w 2012).  but then again, i’ve also wanted the best things for the brand (usually in my opinion not whatever lvmh is putting out for it, though), and tried to see through to the positive when billy gaytten was the interim designer after the departure of john galliano. 

but with the arrival of raf simons, in time for the a/w 2012 haute couture season, i went decidedly against the grain of the thrust of popular thought, instead arguing that the designer didn’t really appear to ‘get’ where the brand had been headed, and was taking it in a direction that, to me, felt too close to where he’d been just a season before chez jil sander (really, that house’s a/w 2012 rtw collection had a lot of similarities, which made me think he was placing his new work directly in competition with the old).

and so, with the debut of his rtw work for the house of christian dior, the s/s 2013 show at paris fashion week, i once again am unsure mr. simons is the right man for the job.  to be sure, he’s not going exactly in the vein he was in at sander, but then again, i wasn’t really sure who he was envisioning the dior customer is, either.  she’s certainly not the same girl that shopped here in the galliano (or even gaytten) days, and indeed, she felt a lot younger, chippier, and kind of party-esque.  maybe i’m just a diehard for the old days, but really, save for a handful of errant looks, i wasn’t vibing on it. 

i guess that my main problem was that while its undeniable that mr. simons has talent, he doesn’t necessarily seem to always understand the old world appeal of christian dior, instead seeming to want to make it into something more modern, though i don’t necessarily mean that in a good way (sometimes the present show felt more like pop music; timely, sure, and even sugary-appealing, but not necessarily with the kind of hold and longevity the brand has in the past exuded).  but i realize, all the same, that i’m in the extreme minority, and maybe all of this is simply academic, because the fashion magazines (with their lvmh add dollars) will be on this like crazy.  say you don’t believe me.

so now i’ll be shutting my mouth, and we’ll be hearing their perspectives on the issue.  starting off, the washington post reported that “Simons took the ‘New Look’ bar jacket, in black, gray and white and sent it down the catwalk often bare-legged, with the hemlines of the sexual revolution…’The foundation of the house is a reaction to restrictions,’ said Simons. ‘I wanted to do that too.’”

and the verbose us vogue chimed in that “(i)t was fascinating to see Simons’s continued evolution at the House, this time around with more time to study and refine the codes established by Dior himself, and he rose quietly and elegantly to the challenge of reinterpreting Dior’s bravura signatures, such as those dramatic seasonal changes of ‘line,’ the refinement and sophistication of technique (some of them Victorian revivals), and the lavish fabrications and embellishments—in a way that remains potent and enticing for a twenty-first-century woman.”

meanwhile, the la times proclaimed that “(m)ini dresses with trailing hems sizzled with iridescent streaks of color in motion. Ball gowns were deflated, chopped off mid-thigh and worn over black shorts. And floral ball skirts were treated as casually as jeans, and paired with black crew-neck sweaters, a trick Simons honed during his time at Jil Sander. Glittery eye shadow, fishnet veils and cat eye sunglasses completed the vision of Dior 2.0.”

“Simons continued where he started for couture with sculpted suiting to open the show, each girl with major glitter eyes and large silk neck bows,” related showstudio. “Then there were all the lovely bodices, some with iridescent shimmer, others neon flou streaming out behind, all with little black shorts. This is for summer, of course, which also meant shiny short dresses, pink and black stripes and that veil of netting showing up with a pair of sunglasses. Beyond the more minimal, couture’s beaded anemones turned into passementerie-like rainbow UFOs and the finale looks, tight jumpers and ball skirts, featured shiny printed roses.”

and the nyt’s cathy horyn echoed some similar thoughts, adding that there were “sharply tailored pantsuits, bustiers in a swirl of mint green or pale pink silk (or iridescent polyester) with black shorts, chic strapless cocktail dresses with a sheer, embroidered top layer. His biggest statement, perhaps, was about Dior’s tailoring (using the classic Bar jacket) and how to interpret that in a modern, free way. You were never sure if a jacket was just a jacket, or a mini coatdress — the choice was up to the wearer.”

she carried on her love-fest (by her, standards, at least) by noting that “(i)t was exciting to see how much he got out of a classic shape without overloading it. There was a single-breasted style in white with a gently flaring hem; another, in black, had more of a bell shape over the hips. Still another had tiny pleats worked into the hem. I lost count of the jacket/coat dresses. One in gray lightweight wool had a wide hem of pale striped-blue organza, with a darker layer in metallic blue organza.”

elsewhere, style salivated that “(h)e de-stuffed Dior’s classic Bar hourglass silhouette by turning it into something for morning, noon, and night, worn with shorts, a skirt, or nothing. Simons is clearly going to be good at the de-stuffing thing. In his ready-to-wear…he carved off the big below-the-waist bit of a gala gown, leaving just the visual interest of its top half. Guipure lace was turned into a two-tone bustier mini. Double-facing was responsible for a spectacular set of oh-so-simple but high-impact pop shapes in bifurcated color. The collection’s most stringently disciplined statement was also one of its best looks: Kinga Rajzak’s navy and black dress in pleated tulle.”

and wwd, too, was all aflutter, relating how “(t)he first three models out wore wide ribbons around their necks — an unfettered update on Dior’s use of chokers. Such were not the only archival references. Simons immersed himself in research and came away with a focus on pleats and on Dior’s Ligne A and Ligne H jackets. The latter turned up in a group of fabulous short coatdresses — he called them jacket-dresses — some waisted, others falling away from the body in that languid A-shape. Making them more than exercises in perfect tailoring: unexpected embroideries and flashes of iridescence in overlays or inset pleats.”

“Throughout,” they concluded, “Simons kept the surprises coming: flyaway veilings over lean dresses, a row of sequined floral buttons down the back of a dress; a geometric bar of embroidery at the hem. Evening featured thin black sweaters over big skirts in iridescent silk florals and conversely, shiny ‘cut-off’ ballgowns over black. Either way, a delightful modernist distortion of a classic. Maison Dior is in good hands.”

and elle saw things almost exactly the same way: “Throughout, you could see that Simons had been picking through the archives – the 1960s, with those micro, striped, sheeny mini dresses – but far from being overwhelmed by this house’s great history, he seamlessly retuned the past into the present. What could be more modern than his finale of huge floral ball skirts worn, of course, with plain black minimal bodies? Raf Simons’ Dior: The making of a new femininity.”

even the iht’s suzy menkes was on about this collection, all but shrieking (in a move i personally felt was greatly overstated, but what do i know? even though i often wonder that those of us not ensconced in the fashionies’ insular universe might actually have a, yannow, street-level edge.  but i digress) that “(a)part from the excellence of the different concepts and the way that they were respectful of women’s bodies and independent attitudes, this was one of the best regenerations of the spirit of a heritage brand seen on the runway since Karl Lagerfeld first reinterpreted Chanel almost 30 years ago.”

more of the same, too, came out of the telegraph, which described how the show included “the famous peplumed Bar jacket worn as a dress; New Look skirts slimmed down, lengthend to the ankle and doused with metallic roses, inspired by Christian Dior’s flower gardens and worn with stretch tops taken from swimwear; short-sleeved silk T-shirt dresses with asymmetric trains, some veiled with tulle tunics and a line satin dresses, again a nod to 60s Dior. There was plenty of lightness and movement, courtesy of the organza layers, sometimes as many as six in a single dress, and the bias cut pleats.”

and if uk vogue was flattering, they did it in more of an understated, british way: “In his notes, Simons has referenced ‘anti-sex’ and his love for minimalism – but was keen to point out it’s not just minimalism he likes – and that he wants to cater to more than just one woman and he did this here. It took those Dior elements, like the tailoring, and combined them with Simons’ youthful spirit. And this collection – a resounding success – was full of what looked like little chapters, but ones with a clear vision at the end of them: namely that Simons was a very good choice for Dior.”

finally, though, the lone holdout, robin givhan of the daily beast seemed to understand some of the places from which my concerns sprung: “as Simons pushes forward with new ideas and techniques, one hopes that his aesthetic doesn’t lose its elegance and refinement as he chases youthful vigor. It’s worrisome that almost the whole of his spring collection was focused on mini-dresses and hot pants—save for the evening skirts and a few cocktail dresses. His cropped and crumpled ball gowns are quickly becoming a signature look. In the ready-to-wear collection, he paired them with shorts. In his couture collection, he offered a similar look, but with trousers—a more inviting and accessible combination.”

“Simons is charged with ushering Dior into the future,” she continued, “and this show proves that he is a leader with a multitude of ideas. But there was a breathlessness to his ready-to-wear debut. With a brand as renowned within fashion as Dior, it is only human to feel pressure. After all, no matter how successful his run at Jil Sander, he must still prove himself in this new atelier. But he should feel assured that he does not have to prove he can do everything, all at once.”  word.  or, you know, that he has to compete with appealing to all those bright young things that have helped relaunch houses like the impossibly sexy emilio pucci.  different stories, different brands.  but i guess hot pants always manage to grab one’s attention, non?

(watch the complete show video here)

milan fashion week: missoni

(images via vogue)

okay, so as i was sitting here, regarding the s/s 2013 missoni collection at milan fashion week, scraping my brain and trying to think of exactly what to say, essentially the thought flashed through my head, ‘it’s one of those houses that attracts such hardcore fangirls. and if you’re not…’ until i totally realized i’d said just that one short season ago whilst discussing the very same.  but do you know what?  it’s not any more untrue today, and i still remain the same: somewhere in the land of neutral, with supreme highs and lows, simply depending on what they produce for that particular season (see the proof: a/w 2010, a/w 2011, resort 2012, s/s 2012, a/w 2012).

so we’ve got what, then, exactly, for this particular turn?  according to the daily beast’s robin givhan, who kept it relatively short, “Angela Missoni opened her show with a series of beautifully crafted, white, tent-shaped tops and cropped cigarette pants and then followed up with spider-web-fine knits in sunset shades. Delicate strands of glistening threads created subtle patterns on easy dresses, and a woven pattern of soft squiggles was just enough to announce a simple cardigan and skirt as signature Missoni.”

and uk vogue reported that “‘I wanted it to be fresh and the main thing was the light – playing with the organza to give the girls an aura and to enhance the weave, which is the root of Missoni,’ explained the designer…To make her fashion points this season, Missoni started the collection off in all white – sheer trapeze and A-line shape dresses worn with chokers and crusts of crystals – and gradually went on to introduce the colour ‘through faceted and 3D effects of the prints and knits,’ she explained. ‘Everything had a depth.’”

“Orange,” they continued, “was the first colour to be brought in – and made for the most striking of lip shades throughout – and was followed by cerulean and then green. There were sequins and pailettes diffusing down and smattering across long flowing dresses which took on a vest shape at the top. And there were of course knits – with huge woven holes in them to trap that light. ‘She’s a cosmic girl and she’s coming down to earth with light,’ summarised Missoni of her muse – one she clearly managed to capture with great styling. See those orange lips – you can’t miss them – and those Perspex accessories, visors, crystal-clustered earrings, cuffs and chokers.”

rather humourously, style summed up their review by reflecting that “(n)ot everything made sense, least of all a press-release scenario that tried to recast the Missoni girl as some sort of intergalactic emissary. The tailoring may have been an effort to introduce a new structure and definition, but it looked leaden beside the diaphanous sweep of Jourdan Dunn’s organza veil. And there’s still the issue of how the dyed-in-the-colored-wool Missoni customer will take to monochrome. Even so, the black trapeze dress worn by Julia Nobis to close the show clearly had a story to tell. That’s only right. After 60 years, so does Missoni.” ed note: ms. nobis’ black dress (at bottom) was probably one of my favourite things from milan this season, and certainly something i wish ms. missoni would have explored at more length.

anyway, carrying on, the washington post stated that “(d)resses are short, knee-length and long, all in a loose silhouette thanks to the sheer outer layer — sometimes with graphic elements like repeating flowers or sequins for a dreamy effect. Missoni also offers pedal-pusher trousers for a more casual look. The color palette ranges from orange to green to pinks, all of which can be muted by the overlay. The interplanetary visitor comes in peace, wearing chunky chokers and bracelets that appear to be made out of crystals and have an icy effect, large round sunglasses outlined in colors like green and white, long hair sleeked down on top and then loose, sometimes with a clear plastic visor, and always fluorescent lipstick.”

meanwhile, the telegraph chirped that “Japanese animé sci-fi was the starting point at Missoni, a theme that both the stylists and accessories-team clearly relished…The best pieces here included jackets that shimmered with starburst paillettes and sportily cut vest-top dresses with opaque outer layers that confused the eye as they moved against Missoni’s specialty patterned knits beneath. Whether decorated in patchworks of geometric blocks or eddying confusions of zingily coloured texture and weave, the more you looked the more these dresses and sports-short suits rewarded the watching. Spaced-out and spectacular.”

“the collection she showed was terrific,” wwd opined, adding that this season, the designer ” reimagined the label’s cornerstone knits through interesting plays with layering and transparency, often veiling the pieces in soft organza for an ethereal effect. A short fitted dress in a patchwork of pink knits was visible under a looser one in pink organza, and a sequined sheer floor-length gown was shown over a white knit version that hugged the body. Missoni’s strong eye for colors (often in gradations of greens and oranges), and her perfect sense of control, gave these clothes a certain allure.”

carrying on, they closed by concluding that “(t)he swimwear enhanced that notion, i.e. a retro two-piece design worn under a signature Missoni knit one-piece, and a patterned cutout version under a sheer green dress. It was at once suggestive and proper.  Throughout, the designer demonstrated a lovely light hand, down to the final few black exits that included a cool short trapeze dress over a bodysuit — all with a slight futuristic vibe. Looks like Missoni is already thinking about the next 60 years.”

Funnily enough,” said us vogue, “for a designer and label so rooted in Italy, Missoni looked to American artist James Turrell, who uses prisms to create elaborate light installations, for the accessories and embellishment. She created giant crystal chokers and applied chunky, translucent stones that adorned thin knit tanks made from a mix of various weaves. At times the collection, with its short, flirty dresses and abundant transparency, looked more suited to Angela’s 20-something daughters than it did to women of her own generation. But still, it was playful and light. And after weeks of watching leather coats and knee-high boots come down the runway, as covetable as they may be, this was one of the few instances when the clothes actually looked appropriate for spring.”

and elle offered that “(i)t really was the injection of sportswear that pushed the classic Missoni knits forward. The open Airtex-cum-crochet layers over block colours beneath, or the go-faster stripes running up the legs of those below-knee shorts, or mini, swinging-in-the-breeze trapeze dresses. She even pulled off a few little black dresses with fine spidery panels of knitwear-like lace. This collection felt fresh and new. And who’d have thought you could say Missoni and minimalism in the same line?”

finally, according to the iht’s suzy menkes, “(b)ackstage, Ms. Missoni talked about an inspiration of a white dress that was Missoni’s first cover for Elle magazine. But fashion has moved a long way since 1963. Even simple A-line dresses appeared three-dimensional and the knitting techniques a miracle of weaving. The dresses were short or ankle length as worn by Angela’s stylish daughter, Teresa. Some of the youthful ideas may come from her other daughter, Margherita, who has design input to the collection. Whatever its source, this light effect shrugged off Missoni’s 60 years.”

(enjoy the full runway video here)