A sense of randomness often pervades a Nicolas Ghesquière collection. His sophomore showing for Louis Vuitton today — held in LV's state-of-the-art, spaceship-like, sparkling new HQ designed by Frank Gehry — brought together disparate elements in ways novel, unexpected, and at times head-scratching.
The show opened with space-age monitors displaying a diverse cast of faces reciting lines from the David Lynch sci-fi thriller Dune (which may explain some of the ergonomic-looking knee pads later in the show), starting with: "A beginning is a very delicate time. Day zero in the heart of the project..."
Not that the clothes were particularly sci-fi, at least not to the degree of those C-3PO pants Ghesquière made for Balenciaga in 2008. First out of the gate were doily-like lacy white dresses, which, over the course of the first third of the show, were mixed and matched with phenomenal leather pieces in bright orange and red or stark black, some of them mere leather strips placed here or there. As if that weren't random enough, he also toyed with a print showing an assortment of lipstick, telephones, cars — like something from the art magazine Toilet Paper.
What came next were sensational trompe l'oeil all-sequin mini-dresses, suggestive of animal prints or curtains. After that were several stabs at jolie laide, i.e. velvet sports bras and flared pants or flouncy dresses with faded wallpaper patterns and a bulky zipper all the way down the front. One thing's for sure — he likes to keep us guessing.
Miuccia Prada further mined her twisted fifties vision for Miu Miu that, for spring, borrowed from John Waters' dark comedy Female Trouble. The soundtrack, which included the film's theme song, confirmed as much. Prada sent out garishly frilly yet finely polished pencil skirts; snug sweaters with daring décolletage; lots of exposed midriff; capri pants with contrasting belts; plaids pushed into new terrain; alt-opera leather overcoats; the occasional sizzle of acid blue; and heels with big good-girl ribbons on them. Here are the best looks...
In the absence of an haute couture line, Alexander McQueen's ready-to-wear makes a convincing stand-in, a plausible proxy. There's really no other way to explain the elevated craftsmanship of Sarah Burton's collections of late. Spring 2015 was no exception.
Essentially she extrapolated ideas from an assortment of antique kimonos she acquired on trips to Japan. Mindful of being overly literal, she interpreted some elements for a contemporary palate while discarding others altogether — obi belts, for example — all in a limited palette of black, white, red, and pink. she connected the results with house codes by way of amazon-like strappy bodices and lace-up sandals.
Meanwhile, deep-V, wide-sleeve silk dresses were printed with flowers and, perhaps, a stylized scene from a Japanese screen. But it was the Incredible leather and snake coats so flawlessly pieced together from smaller skins that stole the show.
Suddenly everyone's talking about feminism. Emma Watson gave a speech to the UN about it and Lena Dunham tackles it in her new autobiography. And now, today, Karl Lagerfeld addressed it in his Chanel show. But his feminism for spring — shown on an elaborate Paris street set inside the Grand Palais, the house's regular venue — was less about the bra-burning kind, more about the equal-pay-for-equal-work kind. Gloria Steinem paved the way in the 60s and 70s with Women's Lib, but these days women are finding, or at least seeking, empowerment in the workplace.
In the sprawling and celebratory collection, Lagerfeld showed his looks on groups of models, rather than the single-file beeline format. The first section popped with bright floral prints in suggestive shapes reminiscent of Georgia O'Keeffe paintings and mixed with various familiar tweeds, plus a new all-tweed pantsuit. Toting little gold-chain bags that said 'Make Fashion Not War,' rather facilely, these girls were a nod to hippie chicks. Next came a section of demure army fatigues, a reference to women's newfound role in the military, followed by tidy skirt suits and cocktail dresses in glittering paillettes resembling cobblestones that were not as trite as it sounds. The last section consisted of pinstripes in countless permutations, some worn with flouncy white blouses, others shellacked with a stiffness worthy of Wall Street. In the end, the Chanel woman had become a power-brokering CEO.
For spring, Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen again experimented with hard, exoskeleton-like materials that have drawn comparisons to Alexander McQueen (where she interned early in her career) and Hussein Chalayan. Several pieces look tricked out in thorns, so buyer beware. Here are the best looks...
You get the sense that Julie de Libran — former design director of Marc Jacobs' Louis Vuitton and, before that, a designer at Prada — has been saving her best ideas for her moment in the sun, at least judging from her triumphant debut at Sonia Rykiel. Infusing two house trademarks — stripes and knits — with a bohemian spirit, she produced delectable shaggy knits, all-over fringe skirts, simplified army fatigues, and sexy diaphanous gypsy dresses worn by the boho likes of Georgia May and Lizzie Jagger. She brought it all together with a subtle splash of orange — Rykiel orange.
Riccardo Tisci said his spring Givenchy collection was based in part on Tyrolian dress, which explains the dirndls. At the same time, he never strays far from an off-duty sexy nun quality, gladiator elements, or, increasingly, a plunging-V, second-skin vibe typical of Kim Kardashian — his de facto new muse, for better or worse. Here are the best looks...
Kate Bush, that 70s/80s musical icon and heroine of independent women everywhere, was the basis on whom Phoebe Philo, fashion's own uncompromising torchbearer, built her Céline collection. The designer, also English, found thrall in the singer-songwriter — a reliable fashion reference à la Patti Smith — after attending one of her intimate mini-concerts this summer, the ticket of tickets.
In fashion terms, vintage Kate Bush is known for two things: leotards and ethereal nightgowny numbers. To be clear, however, Philo's allusions were not literal, but evocative of her free-spiritedness and injected with a seasoned aversion to 'pretty.' Think super-shaggy, bottom-heavy dress hems; ultra-wide pants in a nylon-looking material; huge lapels or none at all; prominent cutouts in sweaters; and the biggest surprise of all, intentionally frumpy floral-print dresses. Ballet flats (with and without a heel) and chunky figurative jewelry completed the slightly awkward, ever-so-ironic look — all set to a classic Kate Bush soundtrack, naturally.
Which came first, the cardinal sin or the cardinal rule? Either way, a vivid cardinal red was the exclusive color of Comme des Garçons's powerful, unrepentant spring collection. Although Rei Kawakubo doesn't typically delve into hot-button geopolitical issues, it was hard not to read between the rose motifs and blood splatters a visceral sense that all is not right in the world. Even if that wasn't Kawakubo's thought process, that a single shade — applied to materials as diverse as leather and chiffon, and shapes as diverse as a cage skirt, a big red riding hood, and piles of patent-red belts — could carry an entire collection is thought-provoking enough.