August 1, 2011 § 1 Comment
At this point it should be evident that I’m a big Margiela fan. I can’t help it – they make some of the most thoughtful clothes around, especially in menswear.
This fall, the Margiela team offers the perfect layering piece: the fur vest. The shell is beige lamb fur, but you can reverse for a slightly different (perhaps more retro) look.
Tommy Ton has recently shot several ladies sporting furry looks for Style.com. One wears a smorgasbord of animal textures via suede coat with beige accents and curly eggshell sleeves. Another makes a big statement in a tangerine fur sweater belted at the waist.
What’s not to love about this trend? It’s fun, fuzzy, and fabulous.
You can find the men’s Margiela vest at SSense.com.
July 8, 2011 § Leave a comment
One of the biggest statements of the couture season went unheard. It came from Maison Martin Margiela, who made a clear comment on our gaze of the female body through a collection of transparent looks juxtaposed with black face coverings. It wasn’t your average couture show – there are no Oscar gowns or Royal Wedding numbers here – and it wasn’t a show that appealed to editors or critics. Style.com, the go-to site for runway pictures, neglected to post images from the collection (these are from NYMag), and Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn didn’t even bother to mention it in her reviews of the couture season. I get it – these clothes weren’t made to dazzle in magazine editorials, nor do they carry the grandiosity most people equate with “couture.” They are, however, an incisive comment on the female body and our perception of it.
The Margiela design team introduced the idea of transparency, quite literally, by opening the show with three transparent head-to-toe looks. While these pieces – blazers, pants, long skirts – create a classically conservative silhouette, the transparent fabric reveals the most intimate parts of a woman – her belly, legs, panties – and infuses the looks with a sexual edge. Another look, a transparent trench coat, turned a familiar figure – the flasher – into an object of voyeurism. A draped khaki dress exposing the model’s shoulders, midriff, and legs followed directly after. The look appeared constructed from one large swath of fabric and drew to mind a woman frantically covering herself with a blanket the morning after a one-night stand.
The stockings covering the models’ faces are, at first, jarring. One could read the collection as misogynistic because it reduces women to faceless pieces of flesh. After some thought, however, I realized that the collection transformed the viewers into voyeurs in a raw and uncomfortable way. As fashion admirers, we often play the role of voyeur, turning our gaze towards models in editorials and on runways; we see them, but they can’t see us. The Margiela collection highlighted this practice by preventing us from seeing the models’ faces and even forcing us to look past the clothes and directly at their bodies. The heightened sexuality of this gesture made us more aware of our gaze.
The face coverings reminded me of Junya Watanabe’s F/W 08 RTW show, when he sent models down the runway in knits of various shapes and tones of gray. This collection could have invited a similar accusation of misogyny; however, the opaque stockings, filled with random geometric shapes, emphasized the collection’s focus on draping, cut, and silhouette. Furthermore, for the last 10 looks of his collection, Watanabe sent out models with their faces exposed, wearing the same grey knits, only this time covered in bright, lush floral patterns. The collection sprinted towards a spirit of liberation.
Both the Margiela and Watanabe collections worked with a “shock and awe” tactic. Viewers are initially surprised by the absence of personhood in the faceless looks, but eventually, other questions begin to emerge around silhouette, draping, the female body, and our own gaze.
It’s disappointing that such remarkable works of art and thought like the Margiela collection can pass by so quietly. For me, it’s often not glamour that speaks the loudest in a collection.
June 28, 2011 § Leave a comment
The Milan and Paris shows took a different spin on the primary colors, turning reds into coral and berry, yellow into mustard, and blue into an icy cerulean. Designers mixed these with deeper neutral hues of browns and whites, creating a warmer and slightly more somber color palette. This was a shift from a spring/summer 2011 season that was heavy on saturated brights.
My favorite palettes of the spring/summer 2012 season were the corals at Commes des Garcons and Versace, and the dark blues at Armani and Gucci. Mustard, one of the new colors of the season, looked fresh and gave the collections a retro kick. Look below for some colors to look forward to next spring.
Shades of Grey
June 27, 2011 § Leave a comment
Can men wear skirts?
This season, a handful of brands including Rick Owens, Givenchy, Yohji Yamamoto, and Commes des Garcons, exclaimed, “Yes, they can!” and sent out models wearing skirts of various lengths, colors, and patterns. Yohji’s skirts were long and voluminous, in subtle red honey combs or striped prints. At Givenchy, skirts were various lengths and covered in brilliant prints of birds of paradise. At Rick Owens, skirts were floor-length, dark colored, and thick, reminding Times critic Cathy Horyn of a “mudslide taking out a few homes.”
Wrapping another animal’s skin (or fur) around your own may be treasonous in PETA circles, but in fashion, it’s the pinnacle of luxury. Designers in Paris used an abundance of reptile in their collections last week. Louis Vuitton showed the most subtle take of the trend, using brown reptile skin to elevate an otherwise banal letterman jacket. Hermes used it for a simple zip-up summer layer. The pattern looked like untreated snake. Jean Paul Gaultier most strongly embraced the trend, sending down a head-to-toe black reptile look. It had a rock-n-roll kick, but with a wider, more relaxed silhouette.
3. Wide-Leg Trousers
For the last few seasons, menswear silhouettes have been getting larger. I haven’t noticed this on the street necessarily, but it’s certainly been true on the runway. This season, trousers were so large they created a parachute-like effect when models walked down the runway. The billowing was sometimes a result of lighter fabrics as was the case with Yohji Yamamoto who showed a delicate collection full of silky trousers paired with tailored blazers. They had the ease of pajamas but were deepened by a feeling of history. John Galliano and Martin Margiela showed similar versions of wide leg trousers, only in stiffer fabrics.
Gingham is a perennial trend in menswear, but this season it was served in fresh color combinations. Raf Simons played with a slightly larger gingham print in bright orange and navy blue, putting it on t-shirts, blazers, and trenchcoats. Against the cold backdrop of mesh steel, it had a somewhat sinister effect, making me think of a fashion-conscious serial killer. Louis Vuitton’s story was about gingham in bright red and cobalt, the colors of African Masai tribes. Overall, the collection looked like the menswear addendum to Thakoon’s F/W 11 collection, which used the same color inspiration. Kenzo paired a light purple gingham with floral print. It looked a bit washed out, but pretty.
Colorblocking is currently a major trend in large part due to Jil Sander’s S/S 11 collection, which showed a range of tailored items in saturated canary yellow, mandarin orange, and cobalt. The trend continues next summer, although the brights are neutralized with more browns and blacks. In his S/S 12 collection for Jil Sander, Raf Simons colorblocked brightly colored leather shirts and tanks with black pants, creating a visual shock. Acne’s collection had a slight retro influence. One look paired a bright seafoam cableknit sweater with light brown slacks, a simple brown belt, and a shirt with a contemporary take on a club collar. Viktor & Rolf’s collection was flooded with Yves Klein blue. Above, they paired a pair of Yves Klein blue pants with a diaphanous blood orange shirt. Delicious.
June 20, 2011 § Leave a comment
Every year in elementary school, there was a week during which students would sell candy bars to raise money for the church. The classroom that sold the most candy was rewarded with the famous “golden sneakers” on their classroom door, a pair of old Nike high tops spray painted by the gym teacher Mr. Solsten. To we students, those shoes represented many things: success, hard work, and, above all, total conquest. But we also thought they were butt ugly.
And then, just this summer, I found the shoes online. Well, not the exact same shoes. These haven’t been worn by legions of elementary school teachers who paired them with cat sweaters or earrings in the shape of christmas ornaments. And these aren’t made by Nike- they’re Martin Margiela.
They’re also offer in white high top, gold low top, and silver low top, amongst others.
I’ve seen both the high tops and low tops in person at the Martin Margiela store at Shinsegae in Seoul. They’re even more fabulous in person, and they’re really sturdy. I’m personally in love with the white high tops. The shape gives them a slight 90s feel, and the white paint is more subtle than some of the other colors like red, which could read as a bit obnoxious. The low tops are also nice, though. I love that they’re laceless.
The shoes, at least the high tops, retail for a hearty $331. On sale. So if you happen to be bored with a pair of suede sneakers you have, consider an afternoon of diy. All you’d need is some paint and the bravery to plaster it on your shoes.