Picasso goes polo. That was the message of Viktor & Rolf's gratifyingly over-the-top couture outing today, a mash-up of the classic white shirt and the father of cubism. Each concoction more elaborate than the last, with each perspective given its own chunk of space, the collection reached fever pitch with a piqué vision of Guernica teetering down the runway.
Following last season's study in art framing, the Dutch designers — who recently shuttered the ready-to-wear side of their label — seem intent on blurring the line between fashion and wearable art.
For his third couture outing at Maison Margiela, its Artisanal line, John Galliano elevated the notion of deconstruction and reconstruction so espoused by the house's founder and managed to make it his own.
Galliano opened with ecru looks, presumably a reference to toiles and the promise they represent. But slowly, he introduced what appeared to be thrift-store finds and seemingly found 3D elements that wrapped around the body to dramatic, even comical effect. A polo shirt burst into a floral mini-dress while a bomber jacket exploded into sculptural strips of metallic brocade.
In more evidence that Raf Simons' departure from Dior came as a surprise to company brass, his two studio directors — Serge Ruffieux and Lucie Meier, of ready-to-wear and couture, respectively — have been given the reins until a replacement is found.
Thrust into the spotlight, the two put out a respectable collection — if not a barn-burner — that brought together various trademarks of Dior, new and old. Trapeze shapes and further updates to the Bar jacket took center stage, nods to the New Look as interpreted by Simons. Meanwhile, exaggerated off-the-shoulder draping and flurries of over-embellishment may have hinted at the tenure of John Galliano, even if that would be too soon in many people's eyes.
With Hedi Slimane's decision to stage his Saint Laurent show in Los Angeles next month, Thom Browne was given the last word on a fashion week that produced several fine collections (wonderful outerwear and exquisite accessories) and an arresting, no-photos-allowed performance by Hood By Air (more on that later). Browne wrapped up the week beautifully, cementing his abiding love of formal wear, and convincingly updating it with disintegrating effects.
Of course, going to a Thom Browne show is tantamount to attending a mini-play, and this season his Dorian Gray-ish plot involved two sinister, white-powdered men removing wrapping paper from huge frames placed around the runway, and also a huge chandelier. They then stolidly sat face-to-face on two armchairs.
There was a strange feeling in the air at Lanvin this morning, despite the business-as-usual coffee and cookies on offer. This year, menswear artistic director Lucas Ossendrijver celebrates his tenth anniversary at the house, but today marked the first time he walked out alone for his bow, without Alber Elbaz. When Lanvin fired its beloved creative director last October, it came as a huge surprise to everyone in the industry, leaving Lanvin's staff in an uproar and demanding answers. After today's show, however, it seems a solo Ossendrijver could very well signal a new chapter for Lanvin men's.
On the ceiling hung a mammoth chandelier while the runway was laid out like a skate park, although a grit-less, neon-brimmed version. The setting of Dior's latest men's show epitomized Kris Van Assche's vision for the house, where he's been ensconced for almost ten years. His man has an interest in young obsessions — music, sports — but he is a bourgeois classicist to the core. So he might hang in a battered skate park, but he will always end back in their cozy 16th-arrondissement apartments.
For her first men's runway show, Sacai chose the wonderful Monnaie de Paris as its venue, which was recently revamped into a leading contemporary art space. There was a large neon piece in the stairwell reading LIIFE, which could easily have been mistaken for a piece of art belonging to the gallery, but which turned out to be the collection’s statement.
LIIFE, with two Is, was a confusing message, but we could interpret it as the I in LIFE, the place of ourselves. In guessing that the designer was asking us to look at ourselves puts her on trend with so many designers questioning our place, politically and economically.
At Kenzo, the stark space was brought alive by an army of red-coated singers. They opened the show, marching their way en masse down the catwalk, filling its entire length. A conductor arrived, and the carefully placed television screens lit up with music notation and a minimalist choral version of Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation ensued, arranged by Thomas Roussel. As the designers said in the show notes, “It is, after all, music that brings us together.
Once an underrated French menswear talent, Sébastien Meunier finally has the limelight at Ann Demeulemeester — after working for several years at Margiela. Under Meunier's short tenure, the brand's male romanticism is less dark, and the show opened with an apparent attempt at redefining modern formal wear — tuxedos sporting contrasting colorful lapels.
But the collection's real hits were the wonderful flower-printed pants and all the tactile items: fuzzy tan coats and knitwear, mohair shirts, and black suits in fabrics that seemed to have been scratched throughout their surfaces, producing a luxuriously disintegrating effect. That's modern formal wear.