Friday, February 29, 2008

paris - yves saint laurent - fall/winter 2008

stefano pilati has proven again and again that he is the right man to helm the legendary house of yves saint laurent. his interpretation of the saint laurent woman by referencing the master's old ideas and modernizing it has made him one of the most influential designers today. this season, when the prevailing mood is that of resereved austerity, pilati unleashed a directional collection that was right on the mark and one that will continue to assert his influence in the fashion world. this season he concentrated on cut and silhouette, omitting distractions that will detract focus from the construction of the garment. the colour palette stayed within neutral territory only sometimes being interrupted by a shock of electric blue. a progression from his last spring collection, the bottom silhouette stayed pretty much the same. a sort of carrot cut that had a higher waist line with a generous cut that loosely tappered down the ankle. the dramatic effect of these pants was exaggerated by sharply tailored jackets with an overlapping closure that created a criss-cross line. the balance achieved by showing something constructed at the top to contrast the volume at the bottom. every time pilati shows a strong collection, it always feels like he's been building up to it. this was no exception. by perfecting the ideas he proposed last spring, he inadvertently presented a collection that was the perfect statement to the general mood of the collections. the hyper femininity of those pin-tucked satin dresses from spring was replaced by geometrically cut silk shantung or tweed dresses with panelling to give the illusion of a leaner silhouette. most surprising of all was that he managed to accomplish this without the obvious saint laurent references and still maintain the saint laurent essence in the clothes. the feminine frivolity of his eary collections like the ruffles was basically excluded this time around, save for a knockout ice blue jacket with a little ruching on the lapel that almost looked like a half ruffle. this was one of pilati's strongest and most confident collection for saint laurent. a twenty first century take on nineties minimalism, designed for a stronger more assertive woman. just as saint laurent rewrote the dress code for the women in his time, pilati, his humble succesor, is on his way to end up doing the exact same thing.


paris - sophia kokosalaki


in an age when the business of fashion highly depends on clothes for the working woman, sophia kokosalaki is one of the few that is still focusing on the art of dressmaking. since graduating from central saint martins, the greek born designer has gained a reputation for her highly advanced technical skills, and her constant interpretation of greek draping. transforming it more than just languid drape, but into sculptural forms that twist around the body with the lightness of wind. her dressmaking skills doesn't just end in grecian drape, she also showed organza dresses with chiffon peeking out underneath the hem with a lyre inspired neckline that twisted sinuously around the neck. its immaculate construction a testement to her also strong tailoring skills. skills that gained her the title as head designer for the venerable house of vionnet. although the partnership with kokosalaki and vionnet was short lived, it did give the designer the time to put all her time and focus on her signature line and maybe and hopefully in the near future, the world will finally take notice of talents of this extremely gifted designer.


paris - stella mccartney - fall/winter 2008

if there is one thing that stella mccartney is known for it is designing extremely covetable clothes for young women who are able to combine their passion for fashion without sacrificing their environmental responsibility. a staunch supporter of animal rights and the environment, mccartney is in a minority in a world where animal skins, and fair trade are the last thing on anyone's mind. yet despite all this, mccartney has seen her business grow since starting her own company after a successful stint as creative director at chloe. perhaps a vital lesson she learned at chloe is how to design clothes that is saccharine in its prettiness, but also make them extremely easy to wear and injected with a youthful, nonchanlant spirit. dresses abound in her collections, this time it came in two silhouettes. either loose and billowy with hemlines that ranged from mini to ankle, or extremely fitted that barely grazed the thigh. if there was anything missing from this collection are the pants that she's become known for. she was one of the first to introduce the now ubiquitous slouchy menswear inspired full pants. and for a season when it might be too cold to wear light, pretty dresses, some leg cover up would've been good. she did however show some strong sweater dressing and jackets made of felt in strong shapes that she proposed as an alternative to fur stating once again that you can still look good without disregarding the planet we all live in. and that is and will always be her strongest message.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

chrystelle my belle

chrystelleoh shame on me that i almost forgot about homegirl chrystelle saint louis augustin and how fucking unbelievably beautiful she is. i remember back in the day when i used to wake up super early on saturday to watch style with elsa klensch on CNN and one morning there she was being interviewed. she had the sexiest accent ever. i mean french is sexy enough, but imagine french by way of the carribean island of martinique. ugh its almost heart attack inducing. no wonder gauguin went to that island because there are girls that are fucking bonkers like chrystelle running around. fuck even maxwell, one of the sexiest mofos ever casted her for his video sumthin' sumthin'. she's been basically retired from modelling for a few years now but every now and then her and her amazing afro pops up to put a giant smile across my face.

paris - givenchy - fall/winter 2008

its been a few years since italian designer ricardo tisci has been appointed as the head designer for the venerable house of givenchy. in that small amount of time, people have been waiting for that moment when he finally claims seat to the throne left occupied when hubert de givenchy retired in 1995. part of the reason why people have been anxiously waiting for that moment is the need to have a stabilizing factor in a house that has become a revolving door for so many designers. although most will argue that this is the collection that cemented and validated the hype around tisci, it was in his last couture collection that this energy finally took root. the architectural elements from the couture show reappeared this time in sharp knife pleats that trimmed the iconic givenchy blouses and jackets. tisci who was also inspired by south american religious iconography, managed to marry his own romantic goth sensibility along with traditional spanish touches such as lace, ruffles, and in the high waisted matador inspired pants to create one of the most striking and distinctive aesthetic during paris fashion week. the real talent in tisci, just like many of his contemporaries in paris, is to be able to take grand old ideas from the past and haute couture and combine it with a street level sensibility. a robust history alone won't assure the safety of the grand couture houses. it needs to be injected with the energy youth and urgency of modernity to survive. so it is probably fitting that religious icons abounded in this collection because the salvation of the house of givenchy relies on the talent of this incredible designer.


paris - hussein chalayan - fall/winter 2008

the evolution of hussein chalayan has provided the world with some of its most memorable fashion moments. be it through clothes that transforms into furniture, a commentary on multi-culturalism, or clothes that morphs and magically disappear, one can be assured that his shows are always going to be provocative. the duality of clothes as pure decoration and necessity has been an ongoing debate for chalayan and it is a theme that he has explored time and time again. this season however saw the designer entertaining the frivolity of dressing. how else can you explain totally impractical boulder size wilma flinstone type necklaces. when chalayan controls his conceptual urges the strenght of him as a designer shines through. that was realized in fluid asymmetricaly draped dresses that is far removed from the strict tailored cuts he prefered during his early years that will surely attract new customers but the same time not alienate the old ones. after so many years of deliberately challenging the idea and reason behind clothes, maybe he finally realized that all women dress to feel beautiful. and hopefully in the future, he will continue to make clothes that will do exactly that.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

paris - balenciaga - fall/winter 2008

when cristobal balenciaga retired in 1968 at the ripe old age of 73 he said: "i regret not being younger, as i would create amusing but tasteful ready-to-wear as the times we live in demand. for me it is too late". fortunately for balenciaga, his wish is being realized by his successor nicolas ghesquiere. always true to the spirit of the house, the young designer has for the past few years seem to fully merge the aesthetic of balenciaga with one of the most foward thinking approach. he has been able to take the classic couture cuts invented by the old master and infuse it with his own ideology and make it adaptable to the twentyfirst century. of all the collections he has done for the house, this was perhaps the collection that was the most true to the balenciaga legacy. of course there was the fall/winter collection a couple of years back when each look was based on creations balenciaga himself designed, these clothes however was pure ghesquiere speaking through balenciaga's tongue. he opened the show with black architecturally construced dresses that gave a hint to balenciaga's spanish roots with its deep rich black and minute folds reminiscent of flamenco ruffles. all worn with costume jewelry that accesorized every single outfit that followed. perhaps a continuation of the "complete ensemble" idea he proposed last spring? from then it moved to jackets and coats with a turtle back silhouette. some came in shiny techno fabrics that ghesquiere has always been so fond of. and although the cut of these clothes are classic, the fabric injects it with a modern edge that prevents it from looking irrelevant. as always, one expects to see innovative fabrication in balenciaga, and this season was no exeption. there were knee leght body conscious dresses with hand-painted chinoserie motif on leather and latex. lush velvet that criss crossed in a loose drape worn with skinny grey wool pants. and as always, show stopping shoes courtesy of pierre hardy. this time around, the gladiator boots was replaced by over the knee and ankle bootie that looked like icebergs with crystal like formations forming at the back heel of the shoe. the ideas presented in this collection was so prolific that in a hand that is not as confident as ghesquiere could've been an utter failure. however, ghesquiere's passion for designing and the deep respect he has for the history of the house propels the label at the forefront for yet another season. achieving ready-to-wear that is both tasteful and so, very deliciously amusing.


paris - junya watanabe - fall/winter 2008

for the past year junya watanabe has been experimenting with iconic trademarks of the great parisian designers. a year ago he dipped into azzadine alaia's body enhancing seaming, and last year it was chanel's classic tweed jacket that he drew inspiration from. the strength of these two designers in tailoring complimented watanabe's own competence for the craft. so it was surprising to see the japanese designer take on the grecian draping of madame gres and vionnet. facing against the technical mastery of madeleine vionnet is a daunting task that even the most experienced designer will think twice before approaching. but watanabe's resolve to reinterpret the clothing of western culture can work to his advantage. he has no sentimental attachment to traditional western clothes so he is free to deconstruct and reconstruct it without parameters a designer from europe or america would be psychologically confined by because of their historical connection to the garment. the art of the drape has been prolific throughout designer collections for the past few years, but very few have managed to do it in a totally new way. watanabe wrapped fabric around the body in unexpected and original ways sometimes appearing to have no regard to functionality. like some of his dresses that fully covered one arm at a time, or sleeves that were draped as so that the arm wasn't covered, but it made one wonder how easy it would be to maneuver your limbs when worn. even though some of the pieces appeared a bit too difficult, there were exquisitely sophisticated draped dresses and marvelously constructed jackets that combined strong tailoring counterbalanced by a soft drape that gently framed the face. those jackets were the perfect metaphor for watanabe. there is strength in his vision, and a softness in his love and sincerity for dressing women.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

paris - maison martin margiela - fall/winter 2008

there is probably no other designer who has managed to illicit an almost cult leader status than martin margiela. the legion of fans he has acquired since opening his own fashion house in 1988 and his association with the legendary belgians "the antwerp six" has garnered him one of the most devout fan base in fashion. his discipline and his passion for perfecting his craft, added by his disassociation with the press in this age of celebrity designers has made him a modern day cristobal balenciaga. like the grand master of couture, margiela's approach to his design is a slow evolution rather than a new concept each new season. the ideas he presents on his pret a porter collection could be a continuation of his demi-couture artisanal line, or it could be the result of the later. whatever it is, his voice is not only one of the most influential voice in fashion, it is also the most underrated. to witness the scope of his influence, one only has to take note on the resurgence of the padded shoulder. a look that he unleashed in dramatic proportions a few seasons ago has now been adapted by designers across the capitals. this season the ideas he proposed are a bit more conceptual and avant garde. its not the easiest show to dissect or figure out how these ideas can trickle down into a more commercial form. he started the show with the one leg dress or pants he toyed around with a few years back. this time around it was worn under spider web knits or softly draped tops. this proportion is challenging enough on tall slender models, let alone to the average woman. however, the towering collars and lapels on jackets and dresses he showed, although still too exagerrated for normal wear, can be minimized into a more approachable level that proves that once again that fashion needs someone like margiela to bring new ideas to the table. a table that a few seasons later, all other designers will be eating from.


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