paris fashion week: rue du mail

(images via vogue)

pretty much every season at paris fashion week, when it comes time for us to discuss designer martine sitbon’s work at rue du mail, two things happen: first, i deride the critics for not giving her beautiful, wearable, and charming-if-challenging dresses (and some separates! lately she’s been opening it up to include more variation in the pieces) the time or discussion they deserve, and second, i then try my best to outshine myself in lavishing the love upon her i feel her work deserves.

anyway, opening up to the designer’s a/w 2013 presentation, i though that, as i usually just give you the opt archives, you could see it there (and thus, see resort 2011, s/s 2011, a/w 2011, s/s 2012, a/w 2012, s/s 2013), and then we could move on to different things, most important of which would undoubtedly be the clothes. this season, i’d argue, was her most wardrobe-y feeling yet, with plenty of furs to blend in with what the rest of europe is selling come fall, along with some excellent outerwear, including a marvelous giant herringbone coat that catherine mcneil seemed to collapse a little bit into as she opened the show.

i tend to not personally be one for, like, a lot of chunky texture, but ms. sitbon played it so nicely for fall it at times appeared almost lightweight, as in the case of a herringbone-and-tweed dress with…were those satin sleeves? (if so, it was a nice example of fabric-blocking) on irina nikolaeva that, thanks to the clever mix of fabrics didn’t make her appear to be, like, drowning her armpits in the weight of some 16 oz. fabric (or some such nonsense). and i kind of liked katlin aas’ matching culottes (in that same herringbone material), even if they did scream ‘grandma!’, and, perhaps ‘marni!’

and yet, actually, interestingly enough, ms. sitbon’s work had a lot in common with consuelo castiglioni’s latest show for marni, complete with the heavy fur collars on vests and jackets, and the softer (or should i say, darker) colour palette complete with some nature-y motifs, although rue du mail relied more heavily on geometric patterns and some sweet–and rather girlish–appliques and embroideries in the shape of irises. on the flashier side, there were some metallic colour-blocked and rather sixties-esque numbers with stripes or geometry for detail, and mackenzie drazan wore a pretty sleeveless white version emblazoned with colour along (and just beneath) the bodice.

anyway, i suppose now is as good a time as any to get onto the critical front, which was rather brief, although we should probably give those who did pay ms. sitbon’s work some mind some love for their attention nevertheless. and so, according to wwd, the designer “continued to evolve her Rue du Mail aesthetic with clothes that were coolly Parisian — not of the innocent variety, but feminine with a slightly subversive edge.”

“Sitbon started with a striking oversize herringbone pattern, shown on a belted voluminous coat and then a chic, tailored version with a fur collar and sleeves. She countered the mannish feel with pretty floral motifs. They looked lovely when worked as peekaboo details on velvet dresses, but the papery blossoms on multicolored devoré dresses were a bit much — they would have been beautiful without the extra decoration,” they prattled along. “For evening, Sitbon offered Lurex shift dresses that were particularly appealing in rusty shades of red. The touch of glitter exuded a youthful glamour that felt just right.”

elsewhere, showstudio reflected that “(t)he dresses dominated and came in simple black silk satin shifts, some with contrasting white zigzag embroidery, others with floral dévorés, another t-shirt-style with its single white flower embroidered on brought last season’s Prada daisy styles to mind. They all stopped right at the knee and had the potential of being that dress you always reach for when in a rush – wear with sharp ankle boots, throw on a cropped jacket et voila, you’re ready for the office/dinner/whatever. It’s these clever yet simple options that Rue du Mail excels at.”

“The herringbone also looked great as the skirt of a dress with a knitted top or a pleated skirt teamed with a knitted silk bomber. The velvet pieces never felt heavy and another two-tone dress with floral applique had a playful tone to it. The show hit its stride in the latter part when the copper lurex pieces started coming. A zipped-up bomber jacket with furry sleeves and collar worn with a matching white skirt looked great, as did the dresses – more structured than the earlier ones, the sparkly lurex criss-crossing its way across the bust. They had an energy to them and a purpose – a winning combination,” they concluded.

finally, though, style remarked that there were “(a) few too many ideas, as it happened, for this collection to communicate a clear, coherent message, though each one in turn was individually compelling. Designer Martine Sitbon had strong themes going, for instance, in her play with florals: There were floral-printed dévorés, and coarse floral embroideries, and funny floral appliqués that seemed suspended off garments. And more. You could intuit Sitbon’s mind working, as she experimented with ways of integrating the same motif into very dissimilar looks. Some of these efforts fared better than others—black and white bouclé gilets and coats with single flower embroidery had an almost mournful elegance, while the coarser embroidery on a couple of subdued shift dresses had an interesting, vaguely feral quality.”

“Elsewhere,” they wandered on, “Sitbon turned out a variety of winning looks in a magnified herringbone, in particular the robelike coat that opened the show. That graphic element found a nice echo in the collection’s wave-patterned embroideries and chunky knits. Then, all of a sudden, Sitbon hit her stride. In a passage of blue-tinged furs and glittery skirts, culottes, and dresses, this collection found its glamorously louche heart. The Rue du Mail girl was off to the disco, apparently, and the directness of these looks, and their relative exuberance, made for a nice change of pace.”

(enjoy the full fashion show video here)

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