Dries Van NotenThe pattern mastery that is Dries Van Noten’s oeuvre took a subtle but no less chic turn for fall. Intricate swirls and stacked strata graphics - key motifs in the print rich collection - looked positively geological and very impressive. The originality of those patterns touched everything including the droopy ankle socks that were paired with gold metal-heeled booties - a precursor to the black and gold floral brocade that later came out in ready to wear. The elegance of this collection came from Van Noten’s perfectly judged pairings, from wisps of fur on his wool coats, to the full-length column dresses made from collages of printed silk and crusted beading.
Dries Van Noten
Dries Van Noten
RochasOpening with a sharply proportioned boot-cut trouser suit in cornflower blue, Marco Zanini presented a coherent collection of beautiful pieces that are sure to stand the test of time. Pleated skirts and micro-shaved ruffle silk dresses were worn with über low kitten heels, while a slim white mohair coat topped a silk rose slip dress. The lady-ish looks and the simple, oversized coat shapes avoided doldrums territory with quirky touches such as knit bonnets tied under the chin and pork pie hats in glossy astrakhan.
Gareth Pugh If Gareth Pugh’s vision of roughed up galactic gangsters didn’t seem obvious enough at the beginning of his show, it was more than clear by the time the models sported lizard-like gold metal eyelids, and blue glow-in-the dark mouthpieces (that made them look like they had just swallowed an igloo). The clothes were as speedy and tough as the models’ angry stomping - most notably skin-tight jackets, tunics and coats that featured puffy bonded leather and intricate intarsias. His male models wore the dubious combination of black chiffon palazzo pants with tight leather long coats, while the finale of women saw star-like explosions of shiny gold chevron patterns in cloaks, ponchos and dresses with enormous collars.
BalmainBy now the house codes that Christophe Decarnin has implemented at Balmain have been carved into 21st century stone: each season there are the leg-sucking jeans worn with an outrageously bedazzled snug jacket, the butt-grazing dresses paired with zillion-inch stilettos and slashed T-shirts that end up costing more than an average month’s rent in Manhattan. Happily, Decarnin knows how to re-dress these party girl favorites, so that his faithful clientele keep coming back for more. This season, the denim is white, the killer heel is a slouchy white pointed boot, the skinny pant appears in breeches form, and the sparkle comes in the form of giant crystals, gold tinsel-like fringe and shaved fur, all embroidered together.
Rick OwensRick Owens has his woman covered in more ways than one for the winter. The American designer delivered incredible layers of sharply sliced wool fabrics and buttery leathers, each one stacked above the other like a perfectly assembled puzzle set. Curved-hem cloaks were worn with fuzzy turtlenecks pulled over models’ heads and paired with tunics, over wrapped tubular skirts. It sounds complicated but the effect was eerily cohesive and strikingly beautiful. Best of all were the fur head veils that looked just about as rigorous as nuns’ habits.
Nina RicciWith a Peter Copping-designed Nina Ricci collection, the mastery lies within the details. The bumpy surfaces of his stretch wools and the slightly irregular lines of his seams, for example, gave his fall line-up the glow of the now rarely seen hand-made garment. A hark back to finer times could also be witnessed in the Victorian-inspired lace-up booties, the elegant peplums sprouting from the back of nip-waist jackets and the wide brim floppy hats made modern by their articulation in long black fox fur. The tension between old vs new and structure vs fluidity provided the ongoing thread that made this collection a cool draft for lady-like dressing.
Roland MouretRouland Mouret took the body-sucking variable - for which he is most well-known - out of his fashion equation this season. But letting out an inch or two around the waist and hips did not deflate the appeal of his grown-up fall collection. Looser can still be sexy, after all, especially when you cut healthy slits up the front of long silk seersucker dresses, or pair ultra wide-cuffed palazzo trousers with slim tops.
Christian DiorAfter 15 years at the helm of Christian Dior, John Galliano’s swan song for the storied Parisian house was a mash up of feminine classics. The runway was drizzled in frills and fox and what seemed like two tonnes of micro ruffles and fluttering chiffon. Although the flounced skirts and bouncing short dresses were soft and sweet, there was also a less saccharine touch with mannish details. Knee-length knickerbockers in velvet or suede were tied up with bows, while hardcore lace-up boots and booties were worn with thick grandpa socks.
Maison Martin MargielaThe music at Maison Martin Margiela, which switched every 23 seconds from heavy metal to disco to punk and soul, was an apt backdrop to clothes that could only be described as schizophrenic. Was that a coat we saw? A dress? Shirt sleeves, or gloves? Well, actually it was all four, with each garment unzipping to reveal something else altogether underneath. At one point it appeared that a full-length dress was stuck to the front of a coat like static cling, as a model staggered by in a post-housecleaning state of comatose. Best of all were the boots that were already bonded on the outside with sheer pantyhose or fishnet stockings, allowing a girl to save some precious extra minutes while dressing in the morning.
Maison Martin Margiela
LanvinParty, party, party! The clothes at Lanvin, even when dark and sober, can’t help but be perennially optimistic. Alber Elbaz’s finale of pouffed silk gazaar in shades of poppy, chartreuse, fuchsia and plum, for example, were the sort of carefree, exquisite confections to spontaneously induce champagne consumption. But even the opening series of nearly-all black capes and round-shouldered felt dresses had their fair share of pizzazz, thanks to the built in, sparkling crystal motifs. Flat-brim wide hats and scrunched up leather gloves added a touch of intrigue and, most interestingly, a cool whiff of the Southwest.
Vivienne WestwoodThe look of Vivienne Westwood’s women this season could easily be examined in cross-sections. Let’s start from the very bottom: the feet were encased in Oz-inspired sequin-crusted slippers worn with tartan bobby socks. Way up top, faces were painted post-party-meltdown style to become one part cult band Kiss, one part evil clown, and a whole lot of graveyard body snatcher. In between there were the clothes, of course, which were an assembly of mad-cap creations pulled and tugged in the trademark Westwood way. Micro denim shorts worn over shimmering yellow tights and Byzantine prints on boxy capes provided some of the playful turns, but it was a floral illusion embroidery column dress and a magnificent explosion of crinoline on grand occasion gowns, that proved just how finely cut Ms. Westwood’s dressmaking chops actually are.
Junya WatanabeOne of the best things (and there were many good moments to chose from) about the Junya Watanabe show was the model’s hair, which thanks to severely shellacked extensions, sprouted unruly Mohawks. The rebel beauty regime was a fine compliment to the clothes, which this season took their genesis from the icon of bad-boy behavior - the leather motorcycle jacket. But in Watanabe’s original hands, the jacket was molded into hourglass jackets and pleated leather skirts - that both recalled Dior’s 1940s new look as much as they repudiated it. Fake fur, long and matted into unruly tufts, also had a fine showing on leopard-patterned coats and on the arms of leather jackets.
Haider AckermannThe hair at the Haider Ackerman show, pulled into slow-sloping volcanic peaks with a single green strand ‘plucked’ out, was awesome. But it paled in comparison to this Colombian-born, Belgian-based designer’s clothes. Wrapping, bounding, looping and back-bending his luxurious jewel-toned fabrics, Ackerman drew up a sublime treaty on unique chic. The silhouette was long and lean, with floor-grazing curvy skirts in boiled wool, paired with sleek jackets that were a collage of paper-thin leather, rich velvet and textured felt. The arms of these jackets were in a perpetual state of scrunch, while their necks and lapels sprouted multiple layers of fabric.
Comme des Garçons
Viktor & RolfIt was hard to tell what the shocking red faces at the Viktor & Rolf show meant exactly. Were the models simply bursting with fury? Had they just dropped and given the designers 50 push-ups? Things became slightly clearer when the show started and a giant wooden door creaked open like a medieval draw-bridge to reveal the red glow of hell. The models, it would seem, were she-devils on a fashion crusade. As such, there was no outfit too extreme, not even the one that was entirely outlined with giant stiff scale-like folds. That folding theme continued throughout the show, creating motifs such as paper fan-creasing and pin wheels fashioned out of stiff wools.
Viktor & Rolf
Jean Paul GaultierThe classic double-breasted jacket, Jean Paul Gaultier’s golden calling card for over two decades, was the lynchpin for a fall collection that saw the designer turning conventional clothing pieces on their head. Rendered in traditional chalk-stripes, the menswear staple morphed into coat dresses, coats that zipped off at the hip, and proper peak-lapel jackets that sprouted floating chiffon skirts. In other non-conformist moves, a smoking jacket in raw cut satin was bonded to a neoprene-like padding, while what at first looked like a pin stripe was actually a photographic print of zippers. Though the designer is no longer stationed at Hermès, his tenure there certainly lent to the ease with which he employed uber luxurious materials, which ranged from rich deerskin, pliant double-faced cashmeres and mink - the latter of which rolled down the runway on a suitcase trolley, as models striped off items of clothing and deposited them into a mountainous pile.
Jean Paul Gaultier
LoeweAt Loewe, where leather and fur are the House’s daily bread, it can be easy to over-indulge with the precious skins. Showing off the ateliers’ skills must have been a temptation too great to resist for creative director Stuart Vevers, who dabbled in a little bit of everything luxe-like this season. From the padded, foamy-looking leather skirt suits and the Crayola-coloured egg-shaped coats, to the deerskin A-line skirts and an abundance of fur jackets, nearly everything was animal-sourced. 1960s capes and biker jackets were crafted in bump ostrich skin, while fluffy fox turned up on collars and bulbous fur vests.
AkrisA funnel-neck cape in vicuna cashmere, shaved so finely as to appear flat, opened the Akris show and set the key for the monochromatic looks to come. Matching his wicked suede booties, thin belts and buttery ostrich skin bags to the shades of saffron, rust and grey in his unadorned ready to wear collection, Albert Kriemler provided a treatise on tone-on-tone dressing. The looks were spiced up by incongruous materials - glossy pony skin with matte double-faced cashmere, for example - which gave the pieces interest and depth, while Kriemler’s building print of the season was based on the work of the Viennese architect Joseph Maria Olbrich.
HermèsAll change at Hermès as Christophe Lemaire makes his mark on the women’s ready to wear. And what a change it was - gone was the huge venue, replaced by the intimacy of the brand’s new Rue de Sèvres store, the booming soundtrack was toned down with a solo live set by Chinese vocalist and Guzheng performer Wu Fei, and models walked the modestly proportioned mosaic floor instead of pacing a runway the length of a stadium. Lemaire’s choice of presentation was discreet and intimate - in keeping with this week’s mood shift, yes, but this also felt right for Hermès, who after all don’t really make ’showy’ clothes. The collection flowed, with long lines, low waists and ample sleeves, allowing the silk, cashmere and all those fabulous Hermes precious skins to freely move and speak for themselves. He brought plenty of his signature style, interplaying this with a unique interpretation of the house codes. Detailing was pared down but nevertheless seen in essential essential adornments such as a single ‘H’ button to fasten a cashmere cape, a bib on a dress shirt in delicately-punched glove leather, or the gathered cuff of a cropped deerskin-pleated trouser.
Stella McCartneyBlue, black, ivory and a little gold was the name of the colour palette game for the Stella McCartney show. It’s been some seasons now that McCartney has been developing a more minimal direction, concentrating more on shape, volume and scale like the pleated dresses that opened the show. Detail was in the shape - volumes gently falling from behind or off the shoulder. Highlights were the knits, like the turtleneck ankle-skimming egg-shaped dress, the chunky gold foiled knit cardigan-cum-coat, or the oversized winter T-Shirt. Her cheeky more sexy side was not entirely lost, as a series of dresses with peek-a-boo panels, decorated with embroidered polka dots, emphasized the hour-glass shape through the kind of trompe l’oiel effect.
Yves Saint LaurentThe only body part that really got any bare action in the YSL show was the models’ knees. But, miraculously, Stefano Pilati’s sober treatise on chic was the farthest thing in the world from snooze territory. The way Pilati precisely cuts a piece of needle-punched wool or Prince of Wales check so that it both caresses yet controls a shoulder or waist, ensures that it is never prim nor boring. Perfect coat-dresses, 1960s skirts, and capes, were paired with generously-calved boots or fabulous sun ray heels. The feminine factor came out loud and clear with grape coat dress showered in marabou feathers, a super white one-piece with sheer bodice, and a rocking pair of white palazzo pants paired with a coat that looked like one great big, scrumptious pile of fluffy feathers.
Yves Saint Laurent
ValentinoFor every woman who lives for the edgier and trendier fashion hits, there is a sager sort who knows that beauty (and normalcy) trumps all – including snagging a hot dinner date. No one creates a material manifestation for this to play out better than Valentino, where designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli have continued the Roman couturier’s tradition of letting the dress take a back seat while the woman takes the wheel. This season’s silhouette was a long-sleeved dress, cut just above the knee and loosely nipped in at the waist. A universal flatterer, the shape was executed with ornate lace tops and organza pleat skirts, or in lovely chevron crystal embroidery that was as light as popcorn. The same shape carried over for the lady-like coats, which were built with increasingly intricacy, culminating in one smashing pheasant feather number.
Alexander McQueenIn her second womenswear outing for Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton proved that she’s holding more than a mere Zippo to keep her former boss’ torch wildly lit. Relying on what she called ‘house silhouettes’, Burton sucked her bodies into perfect hourglass forms and threw in wildly extravagant trains, with a few hardcore harnesses just for good measure. The show was exquisitely crafted, with fur icing on molded coat-dresses, while white cocktail dresses looked as intricate as tiny French pastries and just as edible. Burton’s best, however, came at the end with a series of don’t-mess-with-me gowns that were feathered, embroidered and embellished to perfection.
Moncler Gamme RougeIf there is another fashion house making outerwear just as original, covetable and cool as Moncler, then we don’t know about it. Though it’s the classic puffer jacket stamped with a small round sleeve-patch that has become the iconic item of the Italian-owned brand, the real female gravitas happens with the Gamme Rouge collection designed by Giambattista Valli. This season, Valli played with a longer, slimmer silhouette in the trademark puffers, which he broke up with two-tone blocking. There was also a magnificent, muted leopard print coat with fur collar, a dash of astrakhan, and even neon yellow fur coats for those channelling Keith Haring. For evening, cropped puffers were proposed with full-length evening gowns - the perfect synthesis of chalet après-ski merging with cocktail hour.
Moncler Gamme Rouge
ChanelIf the world was burnt to a black crisp, what on earth is a girl going to wear? In Karl Lagerfeld’s apocalyptic vision of the future, expressed by his steaming, charcoal-like set, it appears that there is plenty to throw on, and the more darkly twisted, the better. Cropped tweed jackets over blazers, distressed jean leggings under skirt suits, and shrugged socks under wide leg pants were just some of the out-there combinations. Many of the sweeping capes and dresses had the dull sheen of having been dusted with volcanic ash, but there was no doubt of the luxe factor in the full skirts of shredded chiffon, or intricate lace embroideries - even if they were worn with flat soldier’s boots.
Louis VuittonBy far the most spectacular fashion presentation of the season came at the very end of a veritable four-week ‘circus’, that essentially saw Louis Vuitton shoot out of the sky like a canon. With it’s extravagant hotel lobby set, complete with models trotting out of elevators and bellmen falling over their feet to service them, Marc Jacobs turned out a collection to ogle over. It wasn’t just the rubber dominatrix boots and latex-looking lace that made this fetish-themed collection sing. We personally enjoyed the display of models who came out from their suites, locked at their wrists with 18karat gold handcuffs, and clutching the ever-covetable (and suitably named) Lockit bags.
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