Sunday, July 8, 2007


to celebrate the 60th anniversary of dior and at the same time pay homage to the untimely death of galliano's right hand man for twenty years steven robinson, could have ended up being schizophrenic. galliano dealt with both monumentous moments by paying homage to both by celebrating not anniversaries and deaths, but by celebrating life itself. he accomplished that by digging dip into his own spanish roots, that culture that is so celebratory of life. he started the show with the same way he started his first collection for dior a decade ago, with various interpretations of the new look. the look that catapulted dior into the highest echelons of 1940s paris. he gradually moved on to elborate gowns fitting the location, the orangerie at versailles, and the palace's mistress, marie antoinette. and with hardly a blink of an eye, extravagant flamenco dresses followed that evoked passion and something femininely raw and genetically galliano. to close the show galliano had true supermodels linda evangelista, naomi campbell, karen mulder, and shalom harlow model the most extravagant gowns seen during couture week. there is no question that galliano is the greatest showman fashion ever had and his final bows at the end of his shows is basically the outfit that ends the collection. this season he exited wearing a bull fighter's costume. here he is celebrating his heritage and celebrating life. celebrating two men who has forever changed his life.
p.s. i just realized something, a few years ago when galliano's father passed away, he too delved deep into his spanish roots to produce another much lauded couture presentation. it seems that in times of great sorrow, the spanish culture and all its vibrancy, is john's salvation.

for over twenty years, karl lagerfeld has helmed the house of chanel. and for over twenty years he has consistently managed to rejuvinate the chanel signatures by making it fit into modern life. no matter how many quilted chanel bags there are, there's always room for a new take on it season after season. for couture however, chanel remains the acme of craftmanship and elevated luxury without the gimmicky tricks of pret-a-porter. there is always a sense of weightlessness and unabashed prettiness that is able to elicit the most reaction from the audience. the front of the garment is usually the point most designers focuses on. karl did away with that and instead zoomed in on the neglected angle, the side of the body. here he commanded the passementeries of the great embroidery house of lesage and had the side angles elaborately decorated with the finest example of french decorations seen throughout the couture collections. and he didn't just stop with the embroidery, he also used feathers, and decorated layers of tull and chiffon to create a commanding profile. as always, the dresses were the ones that garnered the most applause. chanel couture dresses are the most luxuriously sublime. i hate to use the word chic, but those are exactly what those dresses are. actually that is exactly what chanel is.

few will remember hubert givenchy's architectural masterpieces he designed as a result of balenciaga's influence. fortunately, ricardo tisci not only remembers them, but it is where he channels the man's spirit. of all the couture collections in paris, there is no one doing couture quite like tisci. this is couture without the obvious traditions, you wont really find any classic couture cuts from the fifties here or elaborate embellishments. he builds clothes like sculpture, something that is not that different from the dressmakers at the various ateliers, but here he doesn't just build clothes, be appears to be striving to build monuments. there were ingenious use of drapping soft fabrics contrasted by metal corsets, or the layering of different textures to build the clothes away from the body, something that is very much in the tradition of givenchy. after a rocky start at givenchy, tisci is not only finding a dialogue between him and the old master, he is also finding his own language.

paris is well represented by gaultier, provence is unapologetically and lavishly represented by lacroix. lacroix's creations always seemed painted by the colours of southern france. however archaic all those vivid colours and patterns are, lacroix is blessed with the talent to make them all sing together with the garment. embroidery here isn't done for the sake of ornamentation. they serve as part of the dress, the way a print on a fabric acts like. the ornate dresses that demands the adulation of the arab princesses and socialites in the front row can attest to the knack he has for making clothes that women have been dreaming about since they were little girls. there are few designers right now who understands the old traditions of couture, something that a young lacroix learned when he was designing for the now defunct house of jean patou during the eighties. it was during this time, also known as one of the golden ages of couture, that lacroix nurtured his innate talent for dressmaking, perfected his art as one of the last true couturiers to have come out in the past twenty years. in a normaly somber season of darker colours, lacroix always feels like that odd warm january day. it rejuvinates and excites only a way a true french men with joi de vivre can give. and that is exactly what he does.

its hard to believe that gaultier only opened his couture atelier just ten years ago. in that ten years he has grown and progressed to fill in the empty spot left by saint laurent after he closed his couture operations with his retirement. like saint laurent, gaultier's vision is flirtatiously parisienne. there is that mix of refinement, humour, whimsy, and seduction mixed in with touches of androgony that has become a signature gaultier style. adapt those signatures into haute couture then you have a sensory overload of embroidery, precise tailoring of mutated men's uniforms that turned epaulets into extravagant fringing, and the most luxurious skins from alligator to rich furs. the gaultier signature is so original that it can get a bit redundant season after season. his take on the trench coat, the before mentioned andgrogony, and equestrian references almost becomes a cliche. but he manages by always being able to add a new perspective on those pieces. for example, this collection he sent out two beautiful trenchcoats, the first was embelished with barogue tromp l'oeil motifs with sharp shoulders, and the second one was suede with chiffon panels that can only be realized with the master hand of a true couturier. with each couture collection, gaultier is well on his way to securing his position as one of the greatest french designers of our times.


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