His name may not be as ubiquitous as McQueen’s or Saint Laurent’s, but where haute couture is concerned, suffice it to say that 35-year-old Alexis Mabille can hold his own. In fact, he was something of a teen prodigy, acing his training at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Pariesienne in two years instead of three, and working alongside John Galliano and Hedi Slimane at an age most people would have wasted in a keg-induced stupor.
Mabille’s collection was an intuitive cross between artifice and the dollars and cents of selling clothes. His conscientious incorporation of some of 2011’s blockbuster trends—body-con, menswear-inspired separates in every imaginable shade on the Pantone spectrum—would have been construed as derivative if his models weren’t sporting brightly painted faces (a la Viktor & Rolf) and rosette headpieces the size of satellite discs.
Each gown was each radically different from the last. Evidently, Mabille’s collection aspires neither to cohesiveness nor cultural critique, but rather a diverse template of what he deems to be the most iconic ensembles in fashion history. The show indexes key looks from popular culture, with surprising references to various national costumes; flamenco sleeves, brocade, and lace bibs appear alongside voluptuous mermaid hems, Lilly shifts, and chiffon shoulder ruffles (a 90s red-carpet fixture)—for a very postmodern look.