paris fashion week: alexis mabille

(images via vogue)

although today we’ll actually be speaking about his ready-to-wear work (see s/s 2011, s/s 2012, f/w 2012, s/s 2013) only and not his couture collections, i’m sure you’re aware (even constricted only to that realm) that i’m something of an alexis mabille apologist. whatever the critics might wish to hit him with, pretty consistently, i’m on his side, arguing that his clothes are better, more interesting, and more wearable than most of them wish to give him credit for (and they apparently, like, never want to give homeboy a break).

but. honestly, i must say that even i was a little befuddled as to what to make of the designer’s f/w 2013 range presented at paris fashion week, which, with its eighties-seductress-vampire theme (and more on that in a moment) just…felt kind of young. and that doesn’t mean there weren’t elements of the collection i didn’t like, or anything like that, but when carolina thaler hit the stage in her little leopard print looks (a sparkling golden brown-black mini dress variety and a keyhole-peep blue-gray blouse), i couldn’t help but feel we’d some junior’s department goin’ on.

now, i’m well aware the designer likes to bring his girls’ inner vamp out to play, and at times it does him a great service. but at other moments (like those rainbow colours bleeding into his dark gray leopard spot print for example), i’m tempted to suggest that he’s going for more of a ‘high school girl attending a costume party dressed as a lady of the evening’-style look. and, honestly (and especially for a designer who produces haute couture, whether this actually was or no), that is just not the look.

he fared a little better, of course, when he went more sophisticated, or at least a little more covered-up, and indeed, there were some compelling little mini numbers, like lais ribeiro’s off-the-shoulder blocked red/beige/black/cobalt dress that was just enough on the clingy end, and with an abbreviated hem, but never so short that if the girl sat down she’d be showing us her navel. and that too, my friends, can be hot. the trousers were also quite nice, and those webby black sweater options, like the one worn by melissa tammerijn that opened the show. they conveyed a sense of theme without letting it all hang out there.

but! just so you know i’m not a total prude, i thought i ought point out that my actual favourite look of the evening was that halter-necked red leopard dress, also worn by melissa tammerijn, that featured some nice slightly differently-hued scarlet panels of colour-block at the hips and neckline. it was definitely spicy and compelling, and plenty seductive (and eye-catching, of course, with the colour and print), but surprisingly stingy with the skin (and it ended well above the knee, so go figure) for this collection, which says a lot. but i’m sure at a ‘real world’ party, there would be more than a few with eyes only for this number.

anyway, critical time? it’s always interesting to hear some varying opinions, non? and bear in mind that if i’m a little harshin’ on mr. mabille…well, i’ll just let them speak for themselves. and so, according to the uk site my daily, “(h)His collection of stunning floor-length gowns, skirts with split-front detail, with touches of chiffon and leopard print was actually divine. The air of extravagance, the golds and velvets, was met with sophisticated pieces such as crisp white shirts collared with statement necklaces and ribbons, sharp tailored blazers and siren mini skirts.” oh, well, there you are. go figure.

elsewhere, we heard from wwd that “Alexis Mabille put the vamp into vampire with his fall collection, inspired by ‘The Hunger‘… The designer…showed some winning graphic looks, such as a masculine gray flannel coat with camel lozenge insets, and a blood-red-and-black crepe cocktail dress with two pointed, fluttering panels in back. But pieces like those were outnumbered by others as dissonant as the show’s soundtrack, which blended rock music, classical piano, snatches of film dialogue and panther growls. To wit: A white poplin shirt worn over a leopard dévoré velvet top and a blue lamé wrapover skirt. Compounding such aesthetic missteps was the quality of the fabrics, which included a stretchy-looking gold crêpe and an iridescent net that were more high street than high fashion.”

“Mabille’s approach to referencing eighties-era silhouettes and more-is-more styling was rather too literal to feel elevated; and studded, crocheted, and gold-tone looks likewise went at the glam-goth vibe with overmuch directness,” opined style. “You didn’t get the sense that Mabille was adding anything very new to that conversation. Still, this collection did have its strengths. Mabille’s tailoring—a couple of gray flannel looks accented with camel, for instance—could have formed the basis for a very strong show….Overall, though, there was too much going on here, and more problematically, Mabille’s maximalism suffered from a lack of restraint. Even a big look demands design discipline—especially a big look, in fact.”

and, finally, there was the la times, clipping out in their staccato way that this girl was a “(n)ight butterfly, according to the show notes, which amounted to a look that was femme fatale-meets-ingenue. Blouses with jeweled collars tucked into menswear-inspired trousers. Super-short, wrap miniskirts worn with men’s shirts or jeweled cardigans. Coats and jackets with bottom halves that zip off. Leopard burnout velvet blouse and slim black pants. Jeweled sweater dresses. Minidresses with cutouts, or painted with geometric lines. The verdict: Uneven. Some of the pieces (the openwork sweaters with allover pompom details, for example) came out of nowhere and made it hard to buy Mabille’s sexy vibe.”

(see the final walk-through video here)

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