Category Archives: FASHION

VALENTINO — SPRING 2019

It was in the warmth of a late fall afternoon—in a sun parlor with succulent plants, on a soft white carpet—that the spring 2019 collection of Valentino was presented. Valentino is one of the oldest and most traditional Italian maisons, based in the historic city of Rome. Today, between the guests present and the models parading along, this captivating spirit of high fashion was well celebrated.

To set the tone, the designer PIERPAOLO PICCIOLI opened the march with KRISTEN MCMENAMY, one of the most unconventional models from the nineties era. But this move and, simply, her pride to exhibit her beautiful cascade of natural white hair—falling on a thick, generous black silk robe—felt here simply right and pleasant. There was something comforting in the air. The collection later exposed a wide range of beautiful dresses­—studied silhouettes in ample volumes and precious materials. The round of colors—dark chocolate, spicy orange, dusty pink, and Valentino red—produced a worship of good taste.

After all, with Valentino we’re in the culture of couture, where good behavior and opulence meet, and PICCIOLI is a designer who understands its language very well—who translates it to the present day with agreeable intensity and serene calm.

LUTZ — SPRING 2019

Lutz invited his audience to the Salle Pleyel in Paris to present his spring 2019 collection. While the red light on the red carpet recalled a nightclub ethos, the Art Deco style of the room harks back to classical and traditional qualities in the atmosphere.

His collection followed this path with rigorous cuts and odd techniques, and illustrated well the breach between past and present times. There was a feeling of couture in the air: a puff-cocktail dress in jacquard under a man’s trench coat, a range of pearls adjusted on the waist to underline a polka-dot dress worn with a bomber jacket. Lutz uses contrasting materials and opposing styles to write stories about people, their differences in age and gender, and how the act of dressing could set them free.

Lutz is a designer whose concerns about gender equality have always been an important part of his practice. It’s a steady course he has pursued since the mid-nineties. Today, his singular fashion is finally meeting a broader audience.

 

NOIR KEI NINOMIYA — SPRING 2019

Noir Kei Ninomiya’s défilé spring 2019 took place in the same building where Junya Watanabe staged his own a floor below a couple of hours earlier. There is a logical reason for this: both designers are part of the Comme des Garçons group. That aside, Ninomiya takes a very personal and specific approach to clothing.

He knows his classic: the leather jacket. He also knows how to inflect it over a mix of traditional (silk, jersey, tulle) and technical (pvc, tape) materials. His practice is rare, handcrafting fabrics with layers, knots, and pleats—avoiding stitching—that renders a couture-like sensation of unique pieces at each passage. His silhouette is based on a combined play of elongated, spherical, and spacious shapes. The atmosphere is mysterious like in an enchanted forest, where his models resemble night owls with soft, ball hairdos, leaving behind a rain of natural powder.

With this presentation, Ninomiya proves with ease and generosity that he is a noteworthy designer of great skill and expertise.

JUNYA WATANABE — SPRING 2019

Junya Watanabe is certainly one of the most punk rock designers, yet that doesn’t prevent him from convening his audience early in the morning and on time. These types of distinguished feelings—radical and refined—characterize his spring 2019 collection.

The set today is a bit decayed—a concrete building under rehabilitation, where the daylight comes into sight from the side of a window wall.

The voice of Freddie Mercury opens the ball, and baby-doll punkettes with bright neon hair emerge dressed in patchwork denim. Denim is the principal theme of this collection, the main garment with the white T-shirt presented on stage.

Emotions arouse from the varieties of shapes exposed, but here, too, Watanabe focuses uniquely on one: the dress. Where he deploys his great talent is in the manner he assembles each of them with critical fashion and unconventional manners. The result is singular, and original.

With this collection, Watanabe creates with a solitary motif a wide range of variations and—by necessity—sensations. His strength lives in the power to make the audience experience the physicality of the dress, as only a sincere and noble couturier knows how to do.

Images © 2018 Junya Watanabe.

COMME DES GARÇONS — SPRING 2019

To attend a Comme des Garçons presentation is always something quite unique during the busy week of collections. After all, REI KAWAKUBO is herself a one-of-a-kind designer who always deploys interesting thoughts through clothing.

Today she took her audience to the Palais des Etudes of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Since space is an extremely important element in KAWAKUBO’s work, within this classical architecture she built her own—a small, open-air box in gray plywood—to quietly lay down a spring 2019 collection that reflects mostly on the passage of time.

Her first model—an aging pregnant woman with a prominent prosthesis belly—sets the tone right away. This collection is about lineage in its most formal way.

All the models have gray hair, and their bodies are deformed by a variety of experimental implants. The silhouette is black, but vibrates with touches of grays and whites. This monolithic feeling of color is animated by the diversity of shapes—asymmetric, tied, oversized—and materials: jacquard, feather, pearl-drop.

The rhythm is slow, and heaviness is felt in the air. A few models even carry heavy chains as accessories around their body, which create odd sounds over the music—a range of American standards. Finally, continuance in time and abstraction in history are both concepts that surface in the mind through the passage of the models.

Hybrid Renaissance could be the title of this well-done and maybe most personal collection of Comme des Garçons, and with it, REI KAWAKUBO continues to affirm her unique position in and meaningful engagement with the history of fashion.

Images © 2018 Commes des Garçons.