"How can we outdo ourselves?" is the question Marc Jacobs asked at the same time the grand, gilded merry-go-round was being disassembled. A deliciously wicked tale of two Belle Epoque archrival divas came to mind. Jacobs had read the story by Louise J. Esterhazy column from the W magazine of yore, and retold it during a preview with the disclaimer that memory might not serve exactly. When one lady - Sarah Bernhardt? - found out that the other planned to arrive at an important ball wearing her jewelry collection en totale, she promptly trumped her nemesis by showing up in a plain black dress, trailed by her maid, who was bedecked in all her mistresses' bijoux. Marc Jacobs thought that no girl will be carrying a bag this season and that it will be carried for her.
Two massive steel doors opened and a full scale, navy blue locomotive with the name Louis Vuitton emblazoned on the tank in gold lettering, pulled into the temporary LV station at Cour Carré du Louvre blasting steam into the front row as it jugged along. All aboard were elegant ladies in crumpled pony skin hats with fluffy floral add-ons and sky high, square toe mary-janes. They all disembarked one by one, each greeted by her own uniformed porter to handle her fantastic bags. These bags were in splendid ostrich, mink, croc and more.
The clothes were as equally splendid in layers of patchworks, pony hair, holographic tweeds and jewels. Craftwork on these clothes were exquisite. Its focus was yielded extraordinary fabrications, such as jumbo mosaic beading, a floral pony hair "plaid" on coats and skirts, and holographic tweeds in trippy shades of green and purple. Each square of the incredible patchwork leathers had been numbered and meticulously pieced together like a puzzle.
Marc Jacobs said he did have a lot to work with even though this collection looked simple and brilliantly rich. This time he did outdo himself and I am sure he will do the same in the next spring season.
This was a journey to the center of the Earth by Chanel. Rich-toned minerals of sparkling hues, where the granite sand glistened and huge stalagmites of various greys and purples soared high beneath the Grand Palais. Lagerfeld quipped in a preview that "nature makes a good designer, no?"
The clothes were the absolute Chanel sportif. It was beyond wearable and perfect pieces to choose from and make your own. The colors were deep purples, blues, greens, grays and some reds. All chic looks on the runway and off. All of it looked chic. There were great long coats, great new suit variations, many with sporty jackets.
Everything was shown with pants, some were of the skinny ones and some mimicked jeans, some were knitted. A peekaboo lace version went under a graphically patterned fur jacket.
For evening there was plenty of sparkle and shine.
There were metallic-shot tweeds, metallic blouses, coats and jackets with exaggerated graphic metallic panels that look like cut amethysts.
Raw-cut stone jewelry, a split personality shoe- half bootie and half mary jane, with acrylic and rock crystal heels all tied these Chanel pieces together leaving room for the clients to pick and choose anything and everything for their wardrobes.
Karl Lagerfeld does the house of Chanel justice with his ever evolving ideas and visions. This was a magical and functional collection that he came up with for fall/winter 2012 that is a nice spin on sport mixed with chic.
Haider Ackermann expresses a vision of a collection this fall season. His brilliance as a pattern making and draping shows that his technical skills are special to all of his designs. Ackermann showed the genius in his mind as well.
Silhouettes were dominated by a sharply geometric belt. There were some new volume in shapes of jackets that were short and thick and bunched in the back over slim skirts, a silk blouse with billowing sleeves, and an almost obsessive fascination of the lower torso.
The result of this were meticulously tiered and sculpted peplums, buttresslike hip adornments and leathers that pushed out at the waist to be cut away into dramatic tails. To soften that all up Ackermann did so beautifully with abundant hooded coats and languid dresses, including several gathered in front for a capelet effect.
Throughout this collection, the colors came in groups of oranges, reds, blues, and purples that were played with earthy neutrals.
For the final look, Ackermann cleverly held back the powerful creativity with a long sleeved purple dress with discreet folds in the shoulder. Pretty, simple and powerful.
Ackermann is a master of design who works with volume and is a magician with color. This collection spoke a language of beauty that everyone appreciated and gave a loud applause of appreciation.
Bill Gaytten last collection for Dior was a great group of clothes full of Dior references. There were some soft versions of the New Look and some that had beautiful tailoring. Focus was on the cinched in waist and often belted full skirted silhouette.
Big stoned embroideries and graphic fabric plays and his boldest of moves, the midcalf skirt length were some of the big statements. Daytime was full of neat tailoring with modified Bars, a beautiful tricolored coat in horizontal blocks of blue, grey and rose. For evening, the line of small waist and full skirts followed and evolved into gowns and flowing skirts.
Altogether the show went on a bit too long with 56 looks, which was a bit surprising since Gaytten spent so many years in the Galliano-esque low thirties range. At the time word was that Dior's retail numbers were picking up. Gaytten could have been under the pressure to create a collection since it seemed that he was still in the audition stages. His tenure as the interim designer for the house has been the longest. Two years. I am sure it isn't easy. The questions remained. What is the house to do? What do Bernard Arnault and Sidney Toledano ultimately want for their designer? If they want show stopping, awe inspiring, breathless directorial fashion, Gaytten has not indicated that. There seemed to be an anchor to the brand while attracting paying clientelle, and great looks for the red carpet, with a descent couture showing in January for Spring 2012 couture and this fall show, all designed by Gaytten. He could have had a shot but that all changed in the months to come....
Giorgio Armani showed a fantastic collection that closed a strong Milan season. (Which by the way the season should not be a day shorter. New York is too long due to too many shows that are of little importance. Here in Milan, the first and last days had little going on.)
There was so much to see at Armani. The collection was pure tailored chic. Black fedoras punctuated every look. The perfect suits that had the signature Giorgio Armani tailoring and shapes were all done in a new way. A strong surrent of men's wear was present and worked well with some bright colors such as fuschia, hot pink and orange.
Skirts were cut for ease and comfort as well as the dresses. Shorts were a smart addition. The integration of numerous textures and weights kept everything interesting.
Evening was sportif. The shorts were part of it along with jackets and skirts. The upper pieces were crystal-embroidered for a lavish and young feeling.
The last look that was an extravagantley embroidered jumpsuit that was fit for a fashion diva. Although it looked like Armani went back to the basics, he managed to reinvent his signature in a well tailored casual way for this fall and winter of 2012.
Alber Elbaz celebrated his 10th year at Lanvin singing. He has evolved so much in his talent since he started designing for the house of Lanvin. This fall collection was full wonderful ideas that had a sense of heightened feminine power. Yes, this collection had looks that were powerful, seductive, modern, chic and elegant. Silhouettes had exagerated hips, ruffles, peplums, and reinvented exagerated sleeves that worked well with some looks. The first group of suits and dresses projected that power in bright colors.
The line up then turned to show that a woman can look tough yet feminine at the same time. El baz designed these looks smartly because he did not over do anything one bit by maintaining the balnance of strength and femininity. The end was a line up of fun, youthful looks that were flirty and fresh as well as structered and tastefully flashy.
I am certain that the next 10 years at Lanvin will be extremely bright, energetic and majestic as long as Alber Elbaz leads the way with his incredible talent and his eye for modern style and glamor. Congratulations!
When it is time to go there is a way to say goodbye by leaving a mark that no one will forget. This is exactly what Raf Simons did with the last collection he designed for Jil Sander for fall 2012. This is a collection that was so clean and jam packed with wonderful silhouettes encompanied with smart details. Out of all the years that he has been at Jil Sander this collection was the best one out of all of them. Chic, elegant and refined that only Simons can do best with his talent for minimalism.
The show started with double faced clutch coats that were sublime in pale pink and dove gray, tobacco and bright pink, with an air of the late-Fifties couture and then went into confections with lingerie references. Intricate construction was involved, many in powdery make up shades, combined tones and textures with visual ease.
Simons has worked with the couture aura for several seasons and showed that not only can he create elegant evening wear but can also turn out some luxe looks for the day that will make women throw money to purchase them.
So on the way out, Simons bids farewell to Jil Sander and steps into the unknown, only to be carried on into a new chapter that will be the most amazing journey of his life.
"We're always asked to be ourselves," Dolce said before the show. "The challenge is to remain true to Dolce & Gabanna while renewing ourselves, so we work on materials and research."
What Dominico Dolce and Stefano Gabanna came up with is what they call "Romantic Baroque." A motif rich with material from the island they adore, Sicily.
The principal motif is heavy golden embroidery against black was inspired by ornately carved frames. They went on everything from outerwear (coats, jackets, and capes, one of which appeared to weigh more than the model who wore it.) to the necklines and waists of pretty dresses.
On the lighter side the white lace and tulles were just right and were worked into dresses and blouses. There were some petite point florals and dark cherub prints infused with color.
Overall this was a wonderfully theatrical presentation. Dolce & Gabanna remained true to themselves and if they weren't their work would not be as good and people would not resonate with it. There are designers out there who are themselves and continue to be and it shows in their work. There are others who just miss the mark because they are not true to themselves and it shows. Dolce & Gabanna are so true that their next collection will be just true as this one, I'm sure.
Gucci had a magnificent collection that was tight, seductive and chic. The house of Gucci have a reputation for producing outstanding clothes that are quintessentially Italian. Frida Giannini thought of Romanticism of the 19th century. It really worked with the dark colors (maroons, greens and navys) and fabrics with flourish; high drama brocades and jacquards formed the base, worked in combination with velvet, fur, silk and leather.
The tailoring was absolutely impeccable. Suits were worked in different ways from soft to structured tailoring. Jackets were cut perfectly for the perfect fit including the right touches. Capes were the perfect pieces that finished the looks. Equestrian looks were an influence and worked well with the theme and attitude of the collection.
Evening was absolutely romantic and quite sultry. Some black numbers finalized and completely kept the attention of everyone because the fine draping That molded the body included the right touches of beading. All of this was the perfect and happy ending of the collection because of the seductive, glamorous looks that mesmerized the fashion audience.
Giannini knows how to turn on anyone and has done so consistently every season. The house of Gucci is still standing strong because of her great talent in design and how she continues to hold a strong vision for the house.
Mary Katrantzou is a wonderful talent because she is a master at experimenting fearlessly with shapes and prints, and in creating silhouettes that are just simply perfect and never look in any way over exaggerated nor out of sync. She found inspiration in household objects making the prints and designs turning out to be not only inventive but also pretty whimsical. Clothes hangers were arranged on a pale jade dress, while old fashioned rotary dials dotted a heavy silk dress with a billowing chiffon cape. Katrantzou worked with the embroidery house of Lesage and what came out of that were some
amazing creations, such as hundreds of eraser-tipped pencils sewn onto the tulip shaped skirt of a silk dress and sparkling sequins and crystals in graduating shades of blue for a bolero jacket.
Katrantzou also offered her prints in intartia print manipulation on sweater dresses. Standouts were a black sleeved one dotted with crystals, and a moss green number with silk embroidery, sequins and crystals. Always on point, Mary Katrantzou is a talent that has a vision that always carries the fashion world on a dream journey of print that only she can exquisitely do.
The great wonder of this Peter Pilotto collection is the amazing assembling and craftsmanship of these clothes! This fall the looks are done in high necked, scuba-inspired silhouettes that the designers Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos explored last season. These all had yellow florals and abstract prints added to an underwater palette of blue, green and gray. Luxury was heightened with velvet details, as well as intricate beading and sequins. Pilotto and De Vos carried on with the aesthetic they had for their spring collection and did an amazing job with creating a well crafted collection.
Roksanda Ilincic is a playful designer with fabrics, textures and fur and the results are always clothes for a lady who loves being a girl with a touch of luxury without trying too hard. The clothes will help with the cold outside with a bit of fur on everything from a sweatshirt to an evening gown. There was astrakhan silk with silk for day dresses and trimmed hoods, pencil skirt hems and evening gowns with thick lengths of the pelt. There were some simpler silhouettes that were standouts like the bright purple shift with a special touch of a pleat in the front and a fabulous fold on the back.
It is always nice to see Ilincic's collections because they have a nice simple and smart quality to them. I am sure her clients are always happy with everything she designs.
Christopher Kane got a little dark this time around for Fall 2012. He is known to take some elements that do not work well and then turns everything around and make it all interestingly fashion forward. Black and white pinstripes, leopard prints, fur and flowers all together walked down the runway.
A group of black leather was paired with pinstripes were a bit gothic with glaze of glam. Shifts in red and purple moire had leather piping on the hems and shoulders and black velvet flowers were appliqued on others.
Underneath all of these looks that had a sinister feel to them was a beauty that filtered through. Christopher Kane did a nice job in creating looks that can be editorial as well as commercial creating an impact with his vision.
Mulberry's creative director Emma Hill said "I'm always obsessed with movies, so we started with 'Where the Wild Things Are' both the original Maurice Sendak book and the Spike Jonze film." So the collection turned out to be rugged and at the same time quite luxurious. She used a lot of Mongolian fur, sheepskin, and rabbit.
A lot of warm chunky knits helped with the layering of the clothes along with pencil skirts from lacy to some of which where sheepskin. intricately beaded with gold sequins. Enjoyable were a long parka in russet colored lacquered viscose and a long cream sheepskin number. The new Del Rey bag, named after the singer Lana Del Rey, made its debut.
The collection held to the essence of the Mulberry brand without getting to literal. Mulberry is always playful and can be youthful yet offer clothes to women at any age.
The collection was packed with outerwear that was all about cross-breeding country with city dressing. Inspiration came from hunting, shooting and horseback riding, and working them in an urban wardrobe. Yes, it was a call from the wild - from the Scottish hillsides abloom with heather, the green hills and the dales of Yorkshire and, of course, the gritty streets of London. "I love the idea of merging worlds - the digital and physical worlds, the country and city." This collection is a testimony of how Christopher Bailey creates hybrids of clothing and how genius he is in doing so.
A trenchcoat with a plaid peplum, a cropped herringbone bomber jacket with a shearling lining and a quilted burgundy coat for evening are all examples. To give more sense of the country side there owls and dogs on knits and blouses, and ornamental animal heads on belt buckles and umbrellas.
Bailey also worked a Thirties chrysanthemum print into shift dresses and on his pencil skirt a big fat, curving ruffle that cascaded at the front. The elasticized bow belt was shown in many colors and cinched a many coat, jackets and dress.
The collection is full of hybrids indeed and Burberry Prorsum is a brand that always shows magnificent outerwear and are fortunate to have Christopher Bailey as the chief creative officer because he is always thinking out of the box.
Downton Abbey is a popular show these days and the soundtrack of it came over the loudspeaker at Ralph Lauren and everyone who were a bit tired from seeing so many New York collections all perked up. The show has been so popular that the references in this collection has not been all that literal. The first group was all of men's wear for ladies.
The majority were tailored looks and mostly with pants. The outerwear was all in the mix as well, from a houndstooth greatcoat to a glen plaid double breasted style. Suits were plenty. A silk velvet three piece suit was the tops.
The evening portion of the collection was a mixture of sleek glamour - a line up of gold and black numbers with a shot of fuchsia gowns - and playful Twenties - a beaded flapper number and a black column dresses embellished with gold and platinum Art Deco embroideries. It was all very modern elegance.
Ralph Lauren has kept the looks classic and American which is his signature and has always been consistent with giving his clients exactly that.
The Calvin Klein Collection is sculpted with silhouettes that were created by Francisco Costa. Dresses outnumbered pants and the skirts were all mid-calf length. This is a strong collection that spoke loud with volume. There was a focus on the waist, cinching coats and dresses from dense wools or bonded leather with metal-banded belts.
Great inverted darts above the midriff and pleats below created the nipped silhouette. There were peplumed jackets that followed the curved lines. Pants were presented and they were cropped above the ankles. The heavy fabrics did not feel in any way weighed down because of the built-in volumes.
There were few dresses that had sheer panels on the torso that had a clean sense of sex appeal. Speaking of sex appeal Costa always makes sure that none of it gets lost in the marvelous genius of his designs for the Calvin Klein Collection.
Marchesa went into a more sophisticated direction. Of course there is a need to design dresses for the red carpet and the Oscars, but there were a lot of shorter and lighter dresses. A beautiful white short dress with caped sleeves that looked light as a feather was beautiful and girly and another had rich blue embroidery on a delicate white dress. Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig were taken by the late Nineteenth century French painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau's A Soul Brought to Heaven, which depicts two angels spiriting a young woman through the clouds.
You can see this inspiration in the winged embroideries and and the feathers that were details on some of the dresses. Four dresses that were extravagant ball gowns moved along the runway sweeping every one's feet, almost carrying Ingrid Sischy's phone which she accidentally dropped. She did pick it up in the nick of time. There was a darker side which came in dresses worn over skeleton-embroidered bodysuits and a laser-cut black dress which was elegantly tough. Marchesa continues to be known for their unique and elegant designs and construction which are always looked forward to in every season.