Couture Week

Every year, all eyes are on Paris when couture week rolls around. The absolute best of the best is expected and both editors and fashion lovers alike await impatiently for nuanced and luxurious silhouettes to appear on the runway.

This year, though, things were different.

As streetwear and couture have become increasingly synonymous, the industry is struggling to maintain it’s grasp on what couture has traditionally meant in the past and the result is an amass of jumbled sportswear and pre-fall. Although I am not a stickler for tradition per se, I am indeed an advocate for upholding the standards of luxury, and afraid of what materials, people, and design will be sacrificed by the designers who are trying and failing so utterly hard to mimic the likes of Vetements and Proenza Schouler in their pursuit to execute quality streetwear pieces.

Should there not be a place for these designers at Paris Couture week? I believe there should absolutely be a place for them, but do not believe that other brands should be so quick to lessen their own couture images for the sake of homogenizing themselves with what is now becoming the high fashion “norm.”

If this is the direction that designers are choosing to go, in effort to “street wear-ize” their fashion lines, emotion and craft are going to have to reign over the overall tone of the collections instead of mimicry and watered down couture. Let us hope that couture week can be a platform for these ideas and concepts to evolve into the rare air that luxury should and has the potential to still represent.

There is no reason why the continuous drops of clothing out of collections and genius fashion calendar planning (such as Vetements) cannot also be a scaled down version of the calendar for every other major fashion brand.  Less frequent shows (forget pre-fall and resort wear bs) to combine fashion lines into polished and see now buy now concepts will rid of over-production, and make room for the previously mentioned necessities of creativity and emotion driven designs.

Valentino was a perfect example of genuine creativity expressed in a rather abnormal design aesthetic for the brand. Pierpalo Piccioli brought a truly sentimental show to Paris.

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Valentino Couture Fall 2017

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Valentino Couture Fall 2017

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Valentino Couture Fall 2017

 

The rest, such as Dundas and Dior, fell sadly short of this.

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Dundas Couture Fall 2017

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Dior Couture Fall 2017

 

Milan Men’s Fashion Week 2018

Moving onto the grandeur of what is Paris Fashion Week, I find it necessary to re-cap a couple of the incredible events that occurred at Milan Men’s Fashion week. I don’t know if it is just me, but I certainly can’t help but to realize how incredibly articulate men’s fashion has become in addressing the need to fill the somewhat unspoken creative gap between menswear and women’s. The most obvious fact, though, one which is becoming increasingly unavoidable and important in both mens and women’s high fashion, is the necessity to imbue a fashion line with message or meaning. Art, especially satirical fashion and art, (i.e. Thom Browne’s Moncler show this year…which in my opinion fell flat and left much to be desired) is gaining more of a relevancy as the need to parallel the aura of instability we are surrounded with, with absolute satirical messages.

Somewhere in between these two bookends, I believe, is where menswear fashion made breakthroughs and geniuses this season.

A quote from Miuccia Prada stood out to me in particular and once again grazed the juxtaposition of instability and uncertainty with complete whimsy. “You have to embrace the new world, but you don’t want to lose your essential humanity,” “Do you put them together, or keep them separate? The whole world is facing this challenge.” Although she is targeting technology in this quote, it seems to encapsulate the whole state of rapid and constant change in our world. So, in the midst of all of this, fashion and art can help us dissect rationales for ourselves and for our current state of humanity. It serves as a navigator, as a statement to the world, as a comfort, and an absolute way to connect with your own humanity and disseminate it to others.

Above: Prada Menswear Spring 2018 Runway Look

Below: Prada Menswear Spring 2018 Handbags with comic designs

(Commenting on the simplicity of comic books yet the disorganized chaos comics represent-using this to comment on the organization yet chaos technology has created as well)

Next, I cannot go without commenting on Fendi’s runway presentation. The entire show wowed me from beginning to end, not so much with it’s inherent conceptuality or anything of that sort, but rather with this crisp, powerful presence served up with a complete dosage of nostalgia. Sylvia Venturini Fendi has always had an obsession with never settling for the normalcy of “normal” and steered this collection in the direction of Warhol influences over what office life represents today. Through contrasting the two, the result is Wall Street meets Warhol, defining the millennial office culture as subversive to banality and expressive to liberal dressing.

Pictured below: Fendi Menswear Spring 2018

2018 Resort Season-Valentino, Dior, and Chanel Re-Caps

Gaining the opportunity to sample and savor resort wear collections showcased in opulent destination locations around the globe, each collection serves as a communicator in channeling the very nature of resort wear’s utter extravagance and dreaminess to the luxury consumer, and the ensuing mass market. The resort wear stage is where everyone lets their imagination run wild, and conventional fall/winter, spring/summer collections are forgotten about as soon as the ephemera of the grandiose locations and striking pieces of the resort wear collections hit the runway.

This being said, as we reflect back on the resort season collections for 2018, a few stood out to me in particular. First off, Valentino’s usage of their old school Italian roots fused with hip hop influence, followed by Dior’s references to Georgia O’Keefe and Vicki Noble, creator of the motherpeace feminist tarot deck, and lastly Chanel’s homage to ancient Greece. Each of these works inarguably represent the pressing need of our time to relate to other cultures, to understand, hopefully under the most authentic conditions possible, how our cultures are alike more than they are different, while holding necessity to cherishing the aspects setting each of them apart. I strongly believe fashion is a platform for doing so, when executed correctly.

To begin with, Pierpaolo Piccioli drew inspiration for this particular collection from the Netflix show “The Get Down.” This collection took a distinct side step from Valentino’s more traditional fashion week representations and took to heart the zeitgeist of today’s climax in athleisure, paired with obvious street style references-notably the iconic Valentino heels with socks pairing, detailed embroidered bombers, and splashes color in jewel tone track suits. Fur clad athletic shoes, structured jackets with ornamental design detail with relaxed athletic flairs as well as classic ornate Valentino lace layerings and delicate designs all dotted this runway and made for a complete, reflective yet pointedly modern runway for Valentino.

Next, I have to state how completely enamored I was with Maria Grazia Chiuri’s representation of Georgia O’Keefe’s personal style, influence and her nod to feminist tarot culture. Chiuri brings this breath of fresh air to Dior in the sense that she creates a more humanist and humble approach to the brand, more than ever seen before. Although she harkens back to Dior’s archives, as many and most creative directors choose to do with brands that have such solidified DNA’s as Dior’s, she also recognizes how easily one can confine themselves in this process, and understands how important it is to bring one’s own personal touch. After separating from Pierpaolo Piccioli in their partnership as Valentino’s creative directors, she and him both, are faced with the challenge to represent their own voices within extremely iconic brands. This collection, for me, was completely dreamy, completely inspired, and completely encompassed all that I believe luxury consumers are looking for from a design and artistic standpoint with the logo’s incorporated in such a modern and fresh way, while the artistry of the fabric spoke for itself on beautifully tailored bodices and silhouettes.

The last designer, Karl Lagerfeld, drawing from Greek influence, poised the Paris based runway show with cracked pillars and olive trees in effort to amplify Coco Chanel’s own linkages to Greek history herself. Both an owner of a 1st century headless Venus that still rests in her paris apartment on Rue Cambon, as well as her contributions to famous costume designer Jean Cocteau’s reimagining of the ancient Greek tragedy Antigone in 1922, Chanel was an advocate for Greek style. Each of these pieces, ranging from highly brand specific boucle to looser, more relaxed garment structures, is represented beautifully. At certain points, the collection did stretch to overly literal representations for my own taste, but, needless to say, Lagerfeld executed pieces that were utterly stunning to balance it out.