Friday, March 9, 2012

Paris Fashion Week: The Best Shows I Didn't Tell You About...and Kanye West

Givenchy F/W 2012

Comme des Garçons F/W 2012

It's inevitable when one covers a fashion week that they may, uh, miss a couple of key points...

Or maybe that's just me.

Regardless, in going back through Paris Fashion Week coverage, I've realized that I forgot to mention in my posts two key collections: those of Givenchy and Comme des Garçons. called Givenchy's collection the "best received collection of the week," with its models sporting gothic-inspired femme fatale looks complete with black lipstick and Comme des Garçons collection of wide, felt looks was considered so ingenius that the audience tried to implore the fashion house's creative director to come out to take a bow— all to no avail. Cathy Horyn said in her PFW recap that, when another attendee asked her what her favorite collection, he made sure to add "after Comme des Garçons, of course." Yep. It was apparently that good.

On the other hand, Kanye West's F/W 2012 collection—yes, the Kanye West you're thinking of—was exactly what you'd expect of an ego-filled rapper whose star guest to his show was Kim Kardashian wearing nearly $6,000 fur shoes...That is, it was a collection fit for girls who want to look like Kim Kardashian and wear ridiculously expensive and hideous shoes. I had to mention it, because it is Kanye West and it was Paris Fashion Week. But really— view at your own risk. And don't say I didn't warn you.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Paris Fashion Week: Recap Time!

Chanel F/W 2012

"Each day of the Paris fall shows seemed to provide proof that, in fashion, nothing is too strange, comical, or grandiose."

So said NY Times Fashion Critic Cathy Horyn in her Paris Fashion Week "Runway Report." Judging from the photo from the Chanel show above, where models walked against a backdrop of enormous quartz crystals jutting into the sky, Horyn's words certainly seem to be true.

While I haven't followed fashion—and especially fashion weeks—long enough to be considered anything besides "sort-of-but-not-really-knowledgeable" about the field, I can't help but feel that this year's Paris Fall/Winter ready-to-wear collections were particularly stunning.

Each day has been more colorful, more lavish, more amazingly creative than the next, and each time I've tweeted or blogged about another fantastic show, I've realized that there was another fantastic show I forgot to mention all together or hadn't remembered to check up on. While I'm curious to see what trends will come out of PFW and the F/W 2012 shows as a whole, based on this week's shows alone, I've made some preliminary guesses:

Leather— It was EVERYWHERE. And not just in quintessential black or beige tones.
Primary colors— Many designers created all-red, yellow, green, or blue looks.
Also, color in general!– I was incredibly excited that, especially after the first couple of days, many designers broke out of the black/brown/navy rut that fall fashion tends to get us stuck in and injected healthy, healthy doses of color—from neons to bolds to metallics— into their collections.
Embellishment—Chanel had lots of glitter. Louis Vuitton had lots of beading. Get ready to get sparkly.
Velvet— Yep. It was a part of several runway looks. Velvet pants...velvet shirts...velvet jackets...Love it or hate it (though, why would you hate it?!).

Though minimalism will, rightfully, always be the sensibility of certain fashion houses and designers—I'm looking at you Chloe, Celine, and Stella McCartney— this year's Paris shows seem to indicate that opulence and decadence are back in style. Whether this is harmful or hopeful in the context of a world still trying to piece itself together after a global recession is debatable. However, if only to appreciate the mind-boggling ingenuity displayed in the past week, it may be best not to over think it. For now.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Paris Fashion Week: Day 8

Miu Miu Fall/Winter 2012

Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2012

Let's begin by setting the scene:

A clock stops ticking. A whistle blares. A life-size, old-time steam engine slowly rolls in amidst darkness and fog.
No, this is not the opening scene of a European spy movie. However, it was the opening of today's Louis Vuitton show.

Creative Director and fashion's favorite leading man, Marc Jacobs, dazzled those lucky enough to get an invitation to see Louis Vuitton's F/W 2012 collection, with a show that not only included models arriving on a moving train, but personal porters for each of them who carried the latest renditions of the fashion house's signature bags and luggage.

Indeed, much of the time one wasn't sure what to focus their attention on—the clothing or the accessories. The looks included stunning shades of tangerine, indigo, and lilac, and were tailored for an era in which the Orient Express still represented the ultimate in luxury travel. The bags were also made for the glamorous girl-on-the-go, in styles that included exotic skins, fur, and beaded detailing.

And that was just the first show of the day.

While this opulent open was difficult to match, if any fashion house that presented today did it, it was certainly Miu Miu.

Though the fairly young Prada shoot-off (it was only established in 1993; Chanel, for perspective, has been around since 1909) progressed its penchant for rich, whimsical patterns and prints, it managed to present them in an even more rich, whimsical way with a collection comprised largely of suits fit for a modern Mad Hatter.

Miu Miu F/W 2012 is replete with ensembles of pants and jackets that are solid, striped, dotted, and patterned and colored virtually any way one might imagine. Add in the oversized ties, bold belts, and alien-esque eye make-up, and you have what can only be described as a sartorial Wonderland.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Paris Fashion Week: Day 7

Kenzo Fall/Winter 2012

The past few days of Paris Fashion week have featured the collections of some of the fashion industry's most iconic labels—from Alexander Mcqueen to Yves Saint Laurent—with looks of diverse color, print, and what is seeming to be F/W 2012's biggest trend: leather.

The darling of the weekend shows was Kenzo, with a collection of looks as bold and bright as the canary yellow runway on which its models presented them. Primary colors—as featured earlier at the Hussein Chalayan show—were prominent at Kenzo as well, though ensembles in shades of coral and fuchsia, as well as abstract colored and black and white patterns made the Kenzo show more diverse. In addition, the Kenzo show provided a Fall forecast of cinched sleeveless dresses, as well as cropped jackets that ranged in style from military to motorcycle.

Monday brought with it the last collection that Creative Director Stefano Pilati would ever design for what is arguably the most renowned fashion house after Chanel—Yves Saint Laurent. With a collection of full-leather and full-chain looks (though, berry and emerald-colored leather and iridescent purple chain) it seems that Pilati—who is leaving YSL after 8 years—nevertheless decided he wouldn't be doing so without a fight (or, at least, dressing models who looked as if they were ready to fight for him).

Today's shows began with a bang, to say the least. The first collection of the day? Chanel, which is about as French as one can get when it comes to fashion. Chanel's F/W 2012 collection is a decadent one, featuring crystal detailing (the models even wore crystals on their eyebrows), as well as textured trousers and shiny metallic paneling. Chanel's color palette was also heavy on grey, with accents and pops of fuchsia, teal, and mustard.

The finale show of the day—Alexander McQueen under the direction of Creative Director Sarah Burton—stunned attendees, with large, voluminous looks that ranged in color from pale pink to red and had layers upon layers of fabric.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Paris Fashion Week: Day 4

Christian Dior F/W 2012

Hussein Chalayan. Christian Dior. Isabel Marant. Yohji Yamamoto. Lanvin.

These are just half of the designers that debuted their Fall/Winter 2012 collections at Paris Fashion Week today. Needless to say, it was a big day.

The Chalayan show alone— which came in the morning after Roland Mouret—was a certain indication of good things to come. The clothes were immaculately tailored and simple, in bold primary colors that were color blocked with shades of black and grey, as well as silver hologram pants and a few pieces that featured multi-colored abstract prints The collection was absolutely stunning and, as NY Times Fashion Critic Cathy Horyn noted, "reflect[s] nearly 20 years of knowledge," that can hardly be under-valued.

Christian Dior provided an...interesting...take on current times in the afternoon, with a collection that is meant to reference to depressive periods of post-WWII and the 1970s. The colors were very subdued—with shades of grey, lavendar, and beige—while the floral prints conjured images of my 70-year-old Hungarian grandmother's closet. Not to say that it was all bad...Leather inserts in pieces (as seen is the photo above) were gorgeously and strategically placed, and several of the dresses featured beautiful silhouettes and draping.

Isabel Marant was, as my friend Haruka observed, a bit disappointing, with a collection that called into question whether the French staple in every urban girl's wardrobe can manage to be inventive and new. While there is something to be said for consistency, the mark of a true designer will ultimately always be creativity.

Yohji Yamamoto was, honestly, kind of terrifying, with an all-black-and-red collection that conveyed sinister undertones.

However, despite ALL THAT, Lanvin was, without a doubt, today's show-stealer. Fashion darling Alber Elbaz, Lanvin's ingenious creative director, celebrated his 10th year with the fashion house with a lavish party that included everything from a tower of macarons to industry big-wigs such as, my ever favorite, Anna Dello Resso. Oh, and the actual Lanvin collection? That was amazing, too. As usual.

Again, I can't help but wonder, why do I live in the US again?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Paris Fashion Week: Day 3

Balenciaga F/W 2012
Balmain F/W 2012

I always knew there was a reason that three's my lucky number...

Day 3 of fashion week seems to have been—in a word—amazing. Those privy to show attendance were served heaping portions of style staples—Balenciaga for breakfast, Balmain for a late lunch, and Rick Owens and Nina Ricci for dinner— while snacking on the likes of Anna Demeulemeester and Barbara Bui in between.

The Balenciaga and Balmain shows alone were enough to make me seriously consider foregoing purchasing shoes for the next 10 (or 20, or 30) years just to be able to buy one of the items featured in either collection. Balenciaga featured bright, bold solid colors spanning the color spectrum—red, pink, neon yellow, periwinkle, royal blue, royal purple, etc. etc.—which makes me think that the color-blocking trend of this past summer will be back again come fall. Not that I'm complaining. In addition, the Balenciaga show featured abstract metallic tiger and leopard prints, as well as tops with futuristic, sci-fi scenes. Suzy Menkes of the NY Times called it "Balenciaga's version of workplace clothes for the 21st century." Indeed, looking back through pictures of the show, the clothes are all quite practical. But also really, really cool. Just, you know, in a bright, metallic, animal-y, sci-fi print-y way.

On the other hand, Balmain was the rich, popular girl to Balenciaga's chic geek. The fashion house's F/W 2012 collection was apparently inspired by a fabergé egg that Elizabeth Taylor received as a gift in the 80s from then-husband Richard Burton. The collection is exactly what you'd expect of something that was based off of an incredibly lavish gift lavished upon an incredibly lavish woman by her incredibly famous husband— in a word? It's lavish. And includes mini-dresses with lattice patterns of pearl and metallic, velvet pants, thick, gold waist belts, and leather.

Rick Owens' show, while sartorially beautiful, was overall a bit frightening in its aesthetics. The models, in shades of black and grey, walked the runway in face masks, while flames emanated from the wall behind them. It almost brought to mind, in terms of disturbance factor, Alexander McQueen's F/W 2009 show, though I don't think Owens' clothing is nearly as avante-garde or, quite frankly, interesting.

The Nina Ricci F/W 2012 collection is about as Parisian as you can get, with sheer, long skirts, lace insets in tops, and polka dot patterns and a color palette of mainly black, red, and pale pink.

On deck for tomorrow? Chalayan, Christian Dior, Isabel Marant, Sonia Rykiel, and, to top it all off, Lanvin. I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Paris Fashion Week: Day 2

Dries Van Noten Fall/Winter 2012 RTW

Good news: I can now say I've seen a fashion show. Bad news: I cannot say I've actually attended one. live streamed the Mugler show today, so I was able to watch the entire thing from the comfort of my university campus center (sure, it's no swanky Parisian hotel, but hey—you do what you can). I must say, it was actually a bit of a disconcerting experience.

The live stream began at 3 PM, with scenes of models being prepped backstage and fashion insiders weighing in on their thoughts (Anna Dello Russo was interviewed while I watched in real-time!!! I feel like this weirdly bonds us somehow.) This lasted for about half an hour, then the view shifted to the show. People settled, the house lights came on and off a few times. The first models began walking at approximately 3:39 PM. Their clothes were—surprise!—gorgeous. The entire collection was shown. And the show was finished by...3:45 PM.

I'm not quite sure what I expected, but I certainly didn't expect to be able to watch dozens of women walk a runway in clothes that have a net worth greater than the price of my parent's house in less time than it takes me to walk to class each morning. There's such an astounding amount of pomp and circumstance surrounding a fashion show—not to mention a tremendous amount of money—that it amazes me there's not something, I don't know, more to them.

Don't get me wrong: I love fashion and I think it's an art form in its own right. I truly, truly do. But, at the same time, it seems a little inane to me to put such huge stock in debuting collections in this way. Of course, it's important to celebrate designers' creations and to make them public, but might a simple viewing not be enough? I realize that shows play seminal roles in the ways in which collections are first seen—the lighting, the venue, the scenery, the music, etc. etc.—but is 6 minutes really worth it? I'm starting to feel like this point is strange and tangential and that the fashion gods may come strike me at any moment, so I'll move on.

Rochas Creative Director, Marco Zinani, stunned many with beautiful geometrically patterned designs based off of the work of Swedish ceramic artist Wilhelm Kage. Having studied abroad in Stockholm last year, I definitely appreciate the inspiration and loved the collection overall. However, it was a little heavy on purple, which—like black/navy—I feel has been an overused color on F/W runways.

The Dries Van Noten collection featured stunning Asian silk prints in various shades of orange, yellow, and blue and was by far my favorite of the day. The make-up in this show was also spectacular—each of the models wore bright orange eye shadow up to their eyelids, which I admit is, in theory, terrifying. However, in practice? Fabulous beyond belief.

Two of my favorite designers—Balenciaga and Balmain—are showing tomorrow. Can't wait to see what's in store. Stay tuned!