September 15, 2011 § 1 Comment
I didn’t need show notes or reviews to figure out that the inspiration for Rodarte’s latest collection was Vincent Van Gogh. They covered their first number, a knee-length dress with cap sleeves, in painterly sunflowers reminiscent of Van Gogh’s “Sunflower” series from 1888, while a later number carried the dramatic royal blue and violet swirls of his magnum opus “The Starry Night” (1889). I’m a huge Rodarte fan – I particularly loved their F/W 11 collection based on the American Plains – but their latest collection stuck too closely to its inspiration for me.
September 14, 2011 § Leave a Comment
For the opening look of her latest collection, Doo.Ri elevated the white button-down shirt with some expert draping. The top of the ensemble remained fairly conventional, resembling a simple white shirt with wide collar, but as the shirt transformed into a dress toward the waist, Doo.Ri showed us some magic. From what I can tell, the skirt portion of the look was constructed by taking excess shirting from the back and looping around to the front; the skirt wasn’t attached with a separate piece of fabric as one might expect. This look doesn’t dazzle – it’s too minimal for that – but it wows in its innovation and quiet elegance.
I’m a sucker for a woman in a good pantsuit. I usually prefer more classic versions, usually in black or white, but the floral print suit at Prabal Gurung evokes a luridness and hard-edge that drew me in. I love the overall cleanliness of the look – acheived by sharp tailoring, a slight sheen in the fabric, and slick styling – but I also love the print itself. The grey swirls recall molten metal and the overall composition conjures a sinister Rorschach Test. It has a sweetness to it, but also sense of menace.
As I mentioned in my latest New York Fashion Week Review, I’m wild about the tropical prints that came down the runway at Altuzarra, featuring a collage of tropical birds and flora in saturated hues of red, green, pink, and blue. In this look, I love how Altuzarra limited the print to the margins – the bottom hem, sleeves, collar – and connected them with a multicolored knit bodice. The styling of the look is also notable. The belt adds a Jetsons-esque flair and the bold brow is a refreshing alternative to bleached-out brows of recent seasons. Also, don’t you love how the model looks like Andrej Pejic?
After seeing Raf Simon’s S/S 11 collection for Jil Sander, I can’t help but think any t-shirt/voluminous skirt combination grew from its influence. Here, Peter Som offers a stunning new take on the Sander look with a sheer, cobalt top and matching floral skirt with a high slit up the left leg. The look has an arresting sexiness to it – I can see her nipples and a healthy amount of leg – but it has an elegance, particularly in the fullness of the skirt, that eclipses any vulgarity it might evoke. I’d love to see this look (perhaps an opaque version) on the Red Carpet at some point.
Thakoon has an uncanny ability to incorporate several references into one look. Here, he combines bits of the Spaghetti Western, India, and Commes des Garcons styling to create a vivid, whimsical pant suit. I love the saturated colors he uses – pool blue, burnt umber, turquoise. Their vibrancy is so strong it seems as if the clothes are pulsating. I also love the updated, magnified paisley on the pants, jacket, and collar of the shirt. They give the look a joyful dynamism that bursts with energy.
September 13, 2011 § 1 Comment
Floral Acid Trip
Designers updated the perennial floral print this season by saturating it with color and imbuing it with a dreamy, drugged-out quality. Peter Som showed enlarged rose prints done in hot pink, mandarin orange, chartreuse and plum. They had a sweetness to them, but the off-kilter coloring made me wonder if they were imagined from an acid trip. The florals at Richard Chai LOVE had a similar effect; the blue tropical petals recalled photo negatives and felt psychedelic against their bright salmon backdrop. Diane von Furstenberg’s floral prints also carried a hallucinogenic quality to them, although they seemed more joyous in their cartoonish abstraction.
Secret Sex Appeal
Silhouettes are getting sexier this season, albeit semi-covertly. A highlight from Donna Karan’s show took form in an hourglass cocktail dress with subtle cutouts following seams at the hips, shoulders, and sternum. Karan covered the openings with sheer black fabric, adding a modesty to the look. Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen added interest and seduction to a textured top by cutting out two small triangles at the hem, revealing modest slivers of midriff. Meanwhile, Prabal Gurung used cutouts more aggressively, which made the patterned panels look either glued to the models’ bodies or magically floating in place.
Through the Hourglass
It was nice to designers experimenting with couture shapes in sportswear, but I can’t say the results were always successful. Cushnie et Ochs applied disk-like peplums to their minimal white dresses, giving their collection a fun, space-age appeal. After a while, however, the peplums began to resemble something like crotch visors. Alexander Wang inventively added peplums with zip pockets to floral warm-up jackets – perfect for storing Snickers bars or bottles of Gatorade. Jason Wu’s peplums were the most conventional, finding themselves on evening gowns and prim skirts. I liked the feather details he added underneath a peplum on a black cocktail dress. It gave it some whimsy and 20s appeal.
One of the biggest and most surprising trends of the season thus far has been the popular use of mesh. Alexander Wang embraced the trend quite strongly, using it to construct everything from hoodies to track jackets to pants to dresses. He also designed mesh pockets on to a series of shorts, a detail that seems pointless to me but that critics seem to love. Cynthia Rowley constructed some beautiful dresses made from lazer cut mesh fabric in white and black, and Rag & Bone showed several open-knit sweaters that recalled fish netting or old sweaters worn to the bone.
September 12, 2011 § 1 Comment
This season’s new woman is tough, and she’s not afraid to let you know it.
Jason Wu sent out his usual parade of pleasant dresses and easy-breezy daywear, but this time he infused his collection with a hint of street-edge. At a preview of his show, he cited KAWS, the graffiti artist who rose to prominence in the 90s with his subversive reworkings of popular advertisements, as his inspiration. This took form in a series of looks printed with melancholy grey and blue flowers designed by KAWS himself. The pattern closely resembled the monochromatic rose prints from Miharayasuhiro’s S/S 11 collection and also embraced its mood; they had a seductive quality that bordered on sinister.
Wu looked toward another designer, Raf Simons, for other looks in the collection inspired by “pop art and couture,” specifically a white top with a bubblegum pink skirt and matching peplum. I can’t blame Wu for showing Simons some love – I’m a big fan of his too – but I think Wu could have reinterpreted Sander’s look in a way that felt more original.
After his preppy-meets-grunge F/W 11 collection, which showed a series of luxe parkas and slouchy sweaters, Joseph Alturazza decided to take his woman to an urban jungle. I’m absolutely wild for his tropical print that covered everything from suits to dresses to narrow panels on sweaters. They were explosive, fun, and added an element of celebration to the toughness of some of the looks; It was like a fiesta in the midst of a thunderstorm. I also enjoyed the leather elements of this collection, in particular a below-the-knee frock coat with matte panels. Something about it channeled the Matrix’s futurism and severity, but it also possessed an undeniable femininity and softness. Overall, though, my favorite look of the collection was a multicolored, short-sleeve dress accented with tropical print on the sleeves, hips and hem. It was deceptively complex and struck the right chord of everyday and avant garde.
Prabal Gurung reinvigorated the color purple this season by using it in a psychedelic floral print inspired by the work of Japanese artist Nobuyoshi Araki. He used the pattern to give everything from cocktail dresses to short shorts to pantsuits a kick of hard, space-age appeal that contrasted with some of lightness of the silhouettes. This was most evident in the first look of the show: a flouncy, above-the-knee dress with transparent cap sleeves and cutouts at the hip and thighs. Something about the ethereality of the look recalled the fantasy dresses associated with Japanese manga culture (you know, the ones that Japanese women wear when they want to look like wood nymphs or dolls come to life?), but Gurung’s slick styling and lurid print gave the look an edgier, more adult appeal.
Cathy Horyn of the New York Times pointed out that the styling of the Gurung show references Givenchy’s F/W 11 “cat” collection, which I see in the finale look: a floor-length dress with sheer panels at the knees and elbows. Unlike Wu’s reinterpretation of Miharayasuhiro and Raf Simons, it’s clear that Gurung made his Givenchy-inspired looks his own, creating a wholly unique aesthetic and tone.
I’m not too sure I love the Alexander Wang girl – she’s a bit too hard-edged for my taste – but there’s no doubt that she’s executed with a clear point of view. This season, Alexander Wang outfitted his models in an array of mesh, sportive items: hoodies, knee-length shorts, bandanas. Despite the overall casualness of these looks, however, they carried a subtle luxury as seen in a laser-cut mesh leather skirt worn with a leather crop top. It was sporty without reading Nike. I also enjoyed Wang’s geometric prints that appeared toward the end of the show. Some might argue they were a digitized rendering of Native American motifs, but I see them more as a contemporary interpretation of pixelated Atari games from the 90s. They were fun and dynamic, and the chevron stripes made your eyes go every which way. I think Wang could have done without the peplums he attached to trim bombers and velour warm-up jackets. I’m all about utilizing couture shapes in sportswear, but this seemed like too much of a disconnect for me.
Rag & Bone followed in Wang’s footsteps, showing a collection of sporty looks elevated by some impeccable tailored pieces. Honestly, I could do without the sporty elements – I prefer their more classic air of seasons past – but judging from their presence in other heavyweight collections, it seems that for better or worse women’s fashion might be heading in a sports-oriented direction.
I love the one-button blazers that hung atop mesh sweaters and nylon hoodies, especially one done in pumpkin marled yarn. Perhaps it was out of season in the way in conjured an autumn harvest festival, but it had a warmth and earthiness that seems elusive, yet fresh this season. I also loved a pieced blazer that was space-dyed in tones of turquoise, light grey, and slate and paired with a turquoise pencil skirt. The coloring gave the classic women’s suit a playful update.
Rag & Bone were wise to introduce some prints into their collection, but in light of Goyard’s “it” bag from this past year, I think they’re “cubist inspired” pattern was a bit too Louboutin v. YSL. How could they not notice? Perhaps they just don’t care.
I love that New York designers are imagining a woman who’s tougher, stronger, and sometimes, less feminine for next spring. In a way, they are expanding on conventional ideals of what a woman should look like and essentially, who she should be.
September 8, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past few months, you’ve probably noticed that the brogue has replaced the driver as this season’s must-have shoe. And what makes recent incarnations of brogues so exciting is the myriad ways in which designers have updated them, as well as their presence in both the menswear and womenswear markets. Duckie Brown featured pink suede brogues for their summer 2011 collaboration with Florsheim, and John Galliano sent his models down runway in shiny, blue brogues for his S/S ’11 show last year. Most notably, however, Prada’s S/S ’11 “minimalist baroque” collection featured black and brown brogues with layered soles.
Street style photographers have captured several permutations of the brogue trend on their blogs. The Satorialist and Face Hunter photographed a pair of men who paired their Prada brogues with minimal, all-blue looks, as well as a woman who opted for a Prada-inspiredbrogue covered with pink polka dot print. The good men from Street Etiquette also featured a pair of vintage of brogues in a recent post about floral print, while Tommy Ton shot a duo of multicolored brogues the other week for Jak&Jil.
For me, the variety of looks encompassed by this trend is what makes it so rich. The images here alone channel so many styles and feelings: preppy, edgy, classic, artsy, whimsical. This trend, unlike others, is easy to make your own.
September 1, 2011 § 2 Comments
Ahoy, Mole People! Just when I was getting tired of the perennial nautical trend in menswear, I bought into it with a long sleeved sailor tee by Moncler. It doesn’t seem that special at first glance, and perhaps it’s not, but it’s a great layering piece and a good summer staple.
Other than its snug fit, I love how the signature Moncler stripes on each shoulder offer a flash of color to break up the monotony of the navy and white stripes. It’s also really comfortable, which means I can do anything in it, including jump up and down for a photo shoot.
I got my Moncler sailor tee at a boutique in Taipei, but it seems to be quite elusive elsewhere. If you really want to hunt for your own, here’s a list of online stores you should check out – they all carry Moncler apparel. Happy hunting!
August 25, 2011 § Leave a Comment
It’s no secret that I’m a fool for polka dots. Big, small, black, white – I’ll take ‘em any way they come. For this reason, I was pleased to see so many designers interpreting polka dots in new ways for their collections for F/W 11. Stella McCartney stuck black and white polka dots on sheer panels as a playful exploration of transparency, while Jacobs covered his collection in small, black polka dots to give it a dose of levity.
The polka dot patterns from McCartney and Jacobs have trickled to the street. Face Hunter, Street Peeper and The Sartorialist have recently captured the phenomenon in Beirut, Helsinki, Tokyo, and Stockholm.
The trend is mostly circulating in womenswear, but I’m crossing my fingers that retailers will amp up the polka dot factor for men. Afterall, my wardrobe could use a kick.
I just came across this video campain for Diane von Furstenberg’s F/W 11 collection directed by Diane’s daughter, Tatiana. Among other looks, it features two very polka-dotty ones. Enjoy!