paris fashion week: yohji yamamoto

(images via style)

well, now, o my brothers, are you ready to say our goodbyes to paris fashion week?  or perhaps, like me, you quite are, but simultaneously want to hold the s/s 2013 range of designer yohji yamamoto tight, and never let (at least) it go?  that’s how i’m finding myself feeling just now, ready to move on to the deluge of other fashion weeks sweeping in and flooding our ankles, but…anything to hold this particular designer just a bit tighter, look at his collections one more time.  ah, well, i suppose as we give it up to the archives, another range will soon enough wash back in to fill the void. 

and in case you didn’t pick up from all my ceaseless blather just now, i’m quite the fan of mr. yamamoto’s. i really do try to be objective, however, in my reviews on his work (see a/w 2010, a/w 2011, s/s 2012, a/w 2012), and believe that, often enough, i’ve been able to do so, even going so far as to (gasp!) register discontent on occasion with things i’ve found off-putting, but on second thought, i might be talking about some collection for his y-3 collaboration-label.  yet i will say that i believe the upcoming spring’s work surpassed both his last fall and spring collections, rivaling his a/w 2011 range as the badass-est in recent seasons.  so, there…i guess. 

now, then, though, i’ll stop fawning, and perhaps we can get to hearing what some (hopefully, though i doubt it) alleged-to-be-more-impartial people think about the range?  so, in her typically brief manner, the nyt’s cathy horyn stated that “(a)t one point in his show, Yohji Yamamoto sent out a bunch of models in commando khaki with caps and goggles. I have no idea what that was about, but if I saw most of his loose, broken-down dresses, a jumpsuit in rough navy tweed, and gauzy, tummy-baring sarong skirts at a summer music festival, I wouldn’t be surprised. That’s the cool, rowdy feeling.”

and fashionologie claimed that “(t)here were, by turns, references to military dressing, Amelia Earhart, Christian Dior’s Bar jacket, and the kinds of light sarongs normally reserved for casual days at the beach — paired, of course, with asymmetrical blazers in a dark gray metallic fabric. That asymmetry, which has always been at the top of Yamamoto’s list of talking points, was present throughout this collection, injecting the rather reserved color palette of gray, khaki, black, and cream with interest. Of course being an individual and making clothes that will sell aren’t mutually exclusive. Yamamoto offered a few solid answers to the trends of the moment by way of a variety of sheer pieces and a few tops that showed off the models’ midriffs.”

“Longtime Yohji signatures such as asymmetry and androgyny were intact,” trilled style, clearly not understanding the warehouse-ian community, “but they were more tattered and worn than usual. The sense of life after wartime was compounded by veiled women in black, like widows. But they were quickly followed by a model in a lurid pink sheer skirt wrapped over bright blue panties, which suggested a different mood. Same with the ‘jewelry,’ which looked like either repurposed Christmas decorations or bits of driftwood.”

they carried on to add that “(i)n the search for interesting pieces that honored Yohji’s design legacy, you might settle on a pair of trousers with a shirred, multi-tied waist, or a white biker jacket with elegant tails, or maybe even the ratted tweeds threaded with Lurex. Otherwise, the burst of Iggy Pop on the soundtrack was a reminder that, just the other day, Yohji’s daughter Limi Feu was ‘fessing up to her horror that Dad had never heard of the king Stooge. At least he now knows Iggy, so Yohji is catching up in some respects. In others? Not so much.”

meanwhile, fashion, etc. noted that the theme was something like ‘secret vixen’ before going on to profess that “(m)ost of the looks were monochromatic: white on white, red on red, gray on grayer. But there were little surprises and exquisite tailoring in every piece, from a white coat with delicately puffed shoulders to a single strap anchoring a flowing black dress. The accessories showed a side of whimsy, giving the clothing basics a much-needed kick. Many of the looks were paired with delicate hats made of light-colored feathers, but there was also a big chunky white necklace that wouldn’t have looked out of place on Betty Rubble and a veiled cap that almost acted as a shroud.” give them an award for being more clear than style, right?

ahem.  anyway, the ft’s vanessa friedman pointed out that “Ms Kawakubo [of cdg] wasn’t the only one finding beauty in the unfinished; the best parts of Yohji Yamamoto’s somewhat confusing grab-bag of a collection (a sheer pastel chiffon sarong? Huh?) were the rough-edged Edwardian gowns that opened the show, not to mention the tatty metallic tweed suits – though their allure was matched by the work of those designers who saw elegance in the unknown.”

and showstudio commented that, for their part, “(d)espite all the de rigueur – and amazing as ever – black, it was the pair of twin army green aviator suits that stuck out. An homage to the very French reverence for the romance of aviation (Saint Exupery! Romain Gary!) or just a striking departure from the rest? The same can be said, for a crinkled grey henley tunic with moccasins and a necklace of tennis ball size paper pearls (pebble size black pearls came soon thereafter).”

“Yet again there was flou sweeping the floor, here from the sleeves of a cropped navy jacket over a sailor’s body suit and sheer neon red skirt, or a purple shawl twisted on bare shoulders beneath a green-grey two-piece utility suit. Yamamoto has earned the cred to do just about anything, except for platinum blonde toupees, in an otherwise lovely, classic collection,” they concluded nicely. 

in vogue’s take, “his collection began with utility-style dress-cum-capes in sandy safari tones. Short-sleeved jackets were oversized and hair on top bleached at the front to make a semi mohawk. There were those signature wrap and trailing cardigans – in black – and dresses that bunched and gathered around the body. No surprises here, but then that’s not always the point and you don’t want to disappoint an expectant crowd. But there were moments of surprise – when four models took to the catwalk all aviator-style with Amelia Earhart hats and in either harem boiler suits or shorts. There was a white cobweb skirt section and a bright tomato red section and interesting accessories – raffia ball necklaces among them – throughout.”

elsewhere, the iht’s suzy menkes wrote that the designer “must have had some message to convey in a sudden march of khaki on the runway…Perhaps there was a deep meaning to what looked like bone necklets, in contrast to big round baubles clonking on the chest. Was the patch of frizzy hair at the forehead symbolic of aging? Oblique messages do not define a collection. And in terms of fashion, what came through were long dresses, the occasional insert of a lacy mesh in the skirt, but no sense of urgency or fresh ideas. Mr. Yamamoto, with Japan’s innovative textiles at this disposal and his heritage of concise cut, might have increased his engagement with the fabrics to produce something more dynamic. “  oh, sigh.  buzzkill. 

alors.  according to fashion wire daily, “‘I was not thinking of any particular inspiration, more the idea of making fluid yet strong clothes that would make any woman feel good,’ Yamamoto told FWD backstage, after presenting pristine white combinations of lace skirts and surgeon’s tunics that had tremendous presence. But his best moment was his finale – when he was at his most extravagant – creating the kind of artful blood red and deep of night black asymmetric dresses that cried out for a red carpet. It’s one of the few areas in fashion Yamamoto…has yet to conquer. This collection should change all that.”

and finally, wwd weighed in that “(m)ost of the jackets were rendered with uneven hems, some cut so that they playfully cascaded around the torso. They could have read awkward, but in Yamamoto’s hand they enhanced the collection’s poetic spirit. Throughout, the designer demonstrated a lovely simplicity and sparseness, and even the trickier designs — twisted, draped and sometimes barely hanging off the model’s back — were executed with a lightness that never overpowered. Yamamoto carried that notion right through the end with several languid black dresses. They, like most of the collection, demonstrated a welcome ease.”  yaay!  and the fans liked it (oh, the fans) surely they (meeee) count for something, as well?  give this collection a gold star!!!

(enjoy the awesomely amazing collection in motion here)

ukrainian fashion week: anouki bicholla

(images via ufw)

oh, my, wow.  what a difference a season or two makes, no?  and over the course of just a few, we’ve seen the georgian label anouki bicholla transform practically before our eyes.  showing at ukrainian fashion week in kiev back during the f/w 2011 season, they showed promise, but at times seemed more interested in causing a commotion than they did with revolutionizing us through design, and although for the f/w 2012 season, i will grant that they were trying, and sometimes (usually in the more minimalist looks) even nailed it, the overall thrust still came off on the theatrical side.  but for s/s 2013….

designers anouk areshidze and bicholla tetradze kept up on the vintage leanings they went for in their fall collection, though they brought it out in a much stronger respect for spring, with both the ukrainian fashion channel and the ukrainian site delfi woman confirming that the 1950’s served as their inspiration (as if it wasn’t already clear enough). it would be easy to toss about many of the buzzwords and movie star names associated with this era, but on the other hand, i wouldn’t want to push that ‘old hollywood’ concept too strongly, because the designers wisely didn’t make the collection an homage, and did incorporate some of their signature risky moves. 

however, where in the other collections, these could read as gratuitous, because they grounded their theme in something so familiar, so popular the world over, it seemed easier for them to depart from it, and take some stylistic risks that—mostly, at least—paid off. calling the range (trans.) “feminine [and] elegant,” dosugua pointed to elements like “sexy outfits, (s)hapely silhouettes, [and] transparent fabrics,” to which i’d like to add a light (light, light, light) touch of fetish, thanks to some slice-y looking cut-outs, and a few bondage-esque strappy bra tops (as second from bottom), though they were of course anchored in the pretty nipped-waist, full-skirted ‘new look’-style frocks, demure high necks (in some occasions), and sweet little sweaters. 

elsewhere, the site lux lux reflected that (trans.) “(b)ras, basques, pants with pockets, rich decor ruffles at the hips, flared skirt with tulle ruffles, jackets and trousers with cut-outs also gave the image of sex appeal,” and the ukrainian website hochu listed the range materials as including the aforementioned tulle, cotton, organza, and guipure lace, crafted in a lovely spring-like (but not too much so that the clothes couldn’t do a little double-season duty) palette of wedgewood blue, bright white, lemon, black, slate, powder blue, and pale rose yellow, with most of the embellishments coming in the form of fabric textures, although there were some little dainty star motifs (as below), though i preferred the mostly monochromatic pieces, as they allowed us to focus on the superior construction, and just how far the brand has come. 

finally, for their take on the spring presentation, the oft-thoughtful ukrainian blog be in trend noted that (trans.) “(t)hin delicate lace tops, bustiers, basques, narrow waist and midi skirts, transparency, complex multilayer silhouettes… – an incredible mix, resulting in a refined…collection. It is a harmonious combination of contradictory elements and techniques: the ‘bare’  simple transparency, elegant evening dresses and a sumptuous manner, this same transparency in black, tightly buttoned blouses, tank tops, and bustiers in fabulous architectural design completed with a puritanical skirt and hat, made for the best traditions of the British lady.” and so they were right.  really, the designers have come a looong way, and i’ve never seen them better.  let’s hope this is where they stay, and that we see some more smart collections in this vein, before they try to be controversial or flashy once again.  sometimes the biggest scene one can cause is by doing a good job.  i’ll certainly remember this one long beyond the big hair and overdone clown makeup of their f/w 2011 range (see additional images at be in trend)/

(view the full show video here)

melbourne fashion week: christine

(images via fashionising)

i suppose i could whine here about the difficulty of internet research when a designer opts for a label name like ‘christine’, but on the other hand, interestingly enough, the house’s s/s 2013 presentation at melbourne fashion festival was one of the few australian shows of late i’ve actually been able to dredge any information up on.  so that’s something, right? 

besides, frankly, i found the print-heavy, sometimes almost kitschy spring range so charming, i really don’t want to complain.  it at times reminded me a little of the marnie skillings s/s 2011 collection in sydney, and lord knows, i’m always trying to recreate the eclectic feeling of that somewhere.  so i guess we’re going to have to say we win here.  especially with those glasses. 

so where were we?  ah, yes, blathering on about designer christine barro’s work.  sooo, according to style hunter, the “Christine collection was PRINTS, PRINTS, PRINTS! We saw mixed prints, tribal prints, bright prints and soft prints. While black did make an appearance within the collection, Christine used a diverse colour pallet that was set to remind us that spring has arrived. The models adorned a relaxed up do with some seriously quirky styling to complete each look.”

it was charming, wearable, and at times some of the ethnic-y prints (as above) reminded me slightly of sass & bide, as well, or perhaps a pared-back manish arora (circa f/w 2011, especially).  let’s hope we can hear more from the designer during a season opt isn’t in rush-through mode, yes?

(check out a short collection video here)

paris fashion week: vivienne westwood

(images via style)

although i love her zaniness to pieces, on the one hand, it can be nice to see what happens when vivienne westwood shows some restraint, as well, reminding us that behind the face paint, bizarre hats, shoes that borrow from the ‘tin can stilts’ philosophy, and excessive folding and draping that, indeed, there is a designer behind all that.  however, in the past couple of seasons, it seems she has realized this is where her red label collection, which shows in london (see a/w 2011, s/s 2012, a/w 2012, s/s 2013) should step in, and has left some of the ostentatious-ness to her gold label, showing in paris.

where does that leave us now, then, you wonder?  i suppose one could say with the full effect of dame vivienne’s madcap genius descending upon us (see a/w 2010, s/s 2011, a/w 2011, s/s 2012, a/w 2012) for the s/s 2013 season, with what i would tend to call more than her usual amount of festivity and enthusiasm, thanks to the fact that this has been such a grand year for both being and generally celebrating britishness.  and if it’s all quite a lot to process, i’d just like to remind you that you’re not at all required to style things this way at home (you can always do more! if you like, of course!).

okay. so for spring, “Vivienne Westwood set up her madcap camp at the British embassy in preparation for ‘climate revolution’, a cryptic statement that came up throughout the show,” showstudio explained. “It was the usual Westwood army united for a cause with real deal beehive hats and white heart shaped full face makeup. There was all the drama of crazed prints, embellished queen mother jewels, shiny leotards and super shoes. It was the simpler pieces that stood out, though, like a raw army green dress over a breast baring black corset. “

and according to suzy menkes of the iht, “(f)or Vivienne Westwood, the climate is a bigger issue than fashion change. So the energy seemed to go as much into the dressing up as the clothes: hearts painted at an angle across the face; elaborate fluffy wigs; and the inevitable crown, made of sparkling white palladium. But just in case someone might think that the designer was intimidated by her surroundings — the grand and gilded British Embassy in Paris — Ms. Westwood added a swathe of jewels appliquéd across the chest and African patterns to bring a brief orgy of color and print.”

meanwhile, style reflected that “(t)here’s never anything slick about a Westwood collection, but here the clothes seemed positively homespun, as if a refugee dressmaker was doing her best with a sewing machine. Hems were ragged, seams trailed, sleeves were slashed. One leather skirt hung in pieces. Bodices were encrusted with what could have been brooches, as if that refugee were wearing all of her jewelry at once. The large tattered cutouts on dresses, filled with puffs of fabric, were apparently intended to echo beetles’ wings, but they looked just as much like chaotic attempts at mending.”

“There were tea dresses and sundresses,” they carried on, “and the sort of pieces that have represented the ideal lady in the Westwood ethos, but they looked worn-out, almost ruined. That same sense carried through into the lamé eveningwear, although one dress cut from a lace of tarnished silver oak leaves had a faded glamour. It felt like a metaphor for the Albion idyll fallen on hard times. Even the mighty oak must suffer.”

“In her show notes, Westwood cited a ‘kind person’ who ‘sent us a little book of beetles “for inspiration”’ as her starting point,” related vogue. “From there, markings and shapes came to life and prints took their influence from a drawn pattern on a box of Chinese tea. See, eclectic. Just like the lady herself. We were also treated to more metallic bunny suits (this time disco-style), encrusted and bejewelled corsetted ballgowns, sharp-shouldered jackets and serious platforms (one model almost went over as they took the end bow), as well as a little reminder from Westwood that climate revolution – as the show was called – should be acted upon fast. When in Paris, it’s always nice to bring with you a dose of the eccentricities of Britain – and that’s where Westwood steps in.”

and the ft’s vanessa friedman noted in a more general-sort-of-musing that “Vivienne Westwood said it best before her collection of signature destroyed milkmaid dresses, shredded knits, and Les Misérables finery held, pointedly, in the British embassy, with a quite chuffed looking ambassador Sir Peter Ricketts in attendance, pink tie and all: ‘You absorb the world around you and carry it on to your projection.’ In other words: it’s globalisation, stupid. An official anti-luxury policy would presumably hit the fashion industry hard. Except increasingly, it seems, many houses have not only anticipated the issue, but addressed it, turning away from the clichés of luxe (logos, sparkle, gilt) toward an altogether subtler, more content-filled kind of creativity.”

elsewhere, wwd offered that “Westwood’s collection demonstrated a lovely ease that was missing from her last few lineups. She dubbed it Climate Revolution, and even though Westwood claimed there was no relation between her political message and these clothes, there was a noticeable lightness in her execution, i.e., a brocadelike dress with a T-shirt back and several mélange knits with much commercial appeal. Not turning her back on those theatrical and punk proclivities, Westwood rendered them with a softer hand; even her signature corset dresses and ruching details looked charming, not costumey. A silver dress that appeared ripped in panels and folded into a ribbon concoction had a Baroque feel, but would still look great on a modern-day princess.”

and elle informed us that “’(w)e are always designing for a parallel universe because we are making something different, a bit new. It’s a world where people look good – interesting people who lead a better life,’ wrote Vivienne Westwood in her show notes. The models strode out with hearts painted on their faces, hair teased into various ‘tribal’ hairdos, from bouffants to bleached white wigs. On their feet, squiggle print ‘clompers’, the name she gave her latest version of her infamous elevated platforms, which almost got the better of one model.”

“A visit to the Prado museum in Madrid had influenced her great Velasquez-esque ballgowns, one such slashed to ribbons. A box of Chinese tea had inspired her exotic prints – cue a flamboyantly patterned wrap dress, a corseted number with ruched sleeves or a trouser and jacket combo with puffed up shoulders. It’s hard to know how the frilly bloomers came in, the stripy knitwear, or milkmaid’s dress, but it hardly matters. This was Westwood on fine form, particularly when it came to those sweeping statement dresses, covered in decadent brooches and jewels – these, it turned out, were from her new Palladium fine jewellery line, ‘Gainsborough Collection’,” they continued.

finally, the telegraph relayed that the spring show “it was very Vivienne Westwood. To a soundtrack that veered from punk to reggae to classical, long-limbed, crazy-haired girls strode across Sir Peter’s parquet floors in four-inch platform shoes and a dizzying onrush of outrageous attire. Sheer knit dresses frayed at the hems, Elizabethan seductress jerkins split high at the thigh and a purple metallic bustier topped by two racy horns were just a few of the eye-catchers. Dame Vivienne’s undeniable facility for draping and fold – she has a genius for flattering her women, whatever their shape – was visible too. This, though, was often eclipsed by asylum-worthy styling that saw the models’ faces painted with hearts and their heads occasionally crowned with outsized poufs.”

(see the full spectacle in motion here)