Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Juana Martin Couture S/S´23

Through this SS23 collection, Juana Martín is presenting her "Orígenes" collection, an ode to her Spanish and flamenco roots. This collection reflects the beginnings of her work in fabrics and prints, and also offers an accurate result to her flamenco style, with a more avant-garde touch.

Inspired by her summers in Málaga, a place that has seen many of her creative processes, Juana Martín returns to this city to create "Orígenes". The blue of its beaches, its people and the harmony of its land are embodied in this collection that, according to the designer's words, "is designed for an elegant and transgressive woman, who dares to take another step towards evolution and personal development."

Also, in the "Orígenes" fashion show were presenting accessories such as the Christian Louboutin shoes, Nadia Chellaoui bags and Plata Pura goldsmith work. Juana Martín offers us a beautiful gathering between renowned designers and her vision of design, to unveil a contemporary and modern collection.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Sabato De Sarno Is Gucci’s Next Creative Director

Kering has announced that Sabato De Sarno will be moving into the role vacated by Alessandro Michele at Gucci last November. Much like Michele when he stepped up at the Italian house seven years ago, De Sarno’s career has taken place largely behind-the-scenes up until this point, albeit at various different fashion houses. The newly minted creative director cut his teeth at Prada in 2005 before moving on to Dolce & Gabbana and finally joining Valentino in 2009. During his tenure at the latter, he rose up through the ranks to become fashion director, overseeing both men’s and women’s RTW collections and working closely with Pierpaolo Piccioli. He is due to present his first Gucci collection in September during Milan Fashion Week.

“I am delighted that Sabato will join Gucci as the house’s new creative director, one of the most influential roles in the luxury industry,” Marco Bizzarri, president and CEO of Gucci, commented in a statement. “I am certain that through Sabato’s deep understanding and appreciation for Gucci’s unique legacy, he will lead our creative teams with a distinctive vision that will help write this exciting next chapter, reinforcing the house’s fashion authority while capitalising on its rich heritage.”

The industry will inevitably be waiting with bated breath to see how, exactly, De Sarno’s vision for the house plays out. After taking control of the brand’s direction in 2015, Michele’s reimagining of the Gucci aesthetic quadrupled revenues to a cool €10 billion, although the label has lagged behind competitors such as Louis Vuitton and Dior financially in recent years. “I am deeply honoured to take on the role as creative director of Gucci,” De Sarno said. “I am proud to join a house with such an extraordinary history and heritage that over the years has been able to welcome and cherish values I believe in. I am touched and excited to continue my vision for the brand.”

Friday, January 27, 2023

Fendi’s Lightness-Focused S/S´23 Couture Show

Kim Jones’s spring/summer 2023 haute couture collection for Fendi kicked off the countdown to his predecessor Karl Lagerfeld’s Met Gala. Anders Christian Madsen was there. 

It was about lightness

“Lightness,” Kim Jones said in a preview the day before his Fendi haute couture show. “Lightness in colour, lightness in fabric, lightness in layering.” His message came through loud and clear in a collection of wispy, silvery evening slip dresses in dusty pastels and metallics, which employed all the intricacies of haute couture but never allowed them to make the silhouette – or indeed weight of the garment – heavy.

Baillie Walsh directed it

The collection was presented in a small almond-shaped optical white spaceship structure built inside the Palais Brongniart. The production marked Jones’s second collaboration this season with director Baillie Walsh, who also worked on his Dior men’s show a week ago. “I went to the ABBA Voyage he did. It’s so amazing with the avatars. I said, Baillie, you need to be doing fashion shows,” Jones said.

Materials were not as they seemed

Jones said he had drawn on his predecessor Karl Lagerfeld’s affinity for materials that aren’t what they seem. Putting it into practice, he sheathed dresses in lace that was actually made from leather, or covered entire creations in tiny, tiny beads that looked like laminated fabric in the bright white light of Baillie’s spaceship. Notably, Jones evaded the use of fur that has historically characterised Fendi.

It was inspired by climbing

In another interpretation of lightness, Delfina Delettrez Fendi created jewellery inspired by her personal love of climbing in the Dolomites. “I wanted to work with all the accessories and all the mechanics and metallics from climbing. Not social climbing!” she quipped. “Technical hooks and shapes rounded to make them more feminine and organic.” Sculptural and tactile, her silver pieces immaculately captured the lightness of the collection.

It kicked off the countdown to Karl’s Met Gala

The show marked Jones’s final haute couture proposal before May’s Met Gala, which will be dedicated to Karl Lagerfeld. Along with the late couturier’s close friend Lady Amanda Harlech, who was by Jones’s side in the Fendi studio, he is gearing up for what could be the house’s most prominent red-carpet adventure to date, and an opportunity for the lightness of this season’s dresses to shine on an even bigger stage.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Jean Paul Gaultier X Haider Ackermann SS´23 Couture Show

Haider Ackermann took the reins for Jean Paul Gaultier’s couture show this season, marking the fourth designer collaboration at the French fashion house (following on from Chitose Abe, Glenn Martens and Olivier Rousteing). Below, British Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen shares his five key takeaways from the spring/summer 2023 couture show.

It was all about purity

It was exquisite: a black cut-glass tailcoat with an interwoven silken pleated bib followed by another tailcoat so razor-sharp it looked as if a deconstructed white shirt – its pieces pouring out from its cuffs and closure – had cut itself on its lines. And so, it continued, one immaculately precise tailored silhouette after the other, with piercing plume poking out of necklines like poetry in motion, and bustiers and evening blouses sculpted like ceramics on the body. Haider Ackermann was back, courtesy of Jean Paul Gaultier, who had asked the French designer to create his fourth guest-designed haute couture show. It started with a phone call, Ackermann said in a preview: “Surprised. Honoured. Surprised, you know, because there are so many young designers out there. That they’d choose someone like me, I was honoured. To be able to touch haute couture has been a dream of mine forever and ever. I felt very moved by it. It’s all I wanted to do.”

Ackermann’s gang came out in full force

While Ackermann no longer designs the eponymous line that cemented his enduring fashion fame, his relevance and influence on fashion culture were illustrated in the people who came to support him. Like pearls on a string, they graced the front row of Gaultier’s fabled runway room, which Ackermann had decked out in a delicate Wedgwood blue: Tilda Swinton, Timothée Chalamet, Daphne Guinness, Catherine Deneuve. Through the red carpet looks he creates for his friends, the industry continues its creative conversation with Ackermann (who also recently designed a collection for Fila). It was felt in the familiarity of his Gaultier collection, which served as a reminder not just of the impact Gaultier continues to have on fashion – arguably the idea behind these seasonal collaborations – but of the timelessness of Ackermann’s distinct aesthetic. “Jean Paul has big admiration for Madame Grès, and so do I,” he said of his approach to the collection. “It’s all about the pure lines.”

He wanted to focus on couture construction

The show was in striking contrast to the three previous Gaultier collaborations – Chitose Abe, Glenn Martens, Olivier Rousteing – which all celebrated the hyper-glamorous enfant terrible sides of the legendary designer. “I wanted to go back to something… “ Ackermann paused. “You know, we know Jean Paul and we know the loudness and the music and the styling. Sometimes you get so distracted by it that you lose the essence and purity of his immaculate work. He was very precise in his tailoring. All the construction, when I go to the archive, it’s just sublime. I wanted to bring back this purity.” He did so in a collection that demonstrated haute couture’s ability to create the absolute idealised version of reality, from those ravishingly cut black suits to architectural kimono dresses and the spiky, silvery tracksuit he said was his favourite. “It’s just a jogger,” he smiled. “I think it’s quite extraordinary.”

Ackermann sent a message to Iran

As a student at Antwerp’s Royal Academy, Ackermann grew up looking to a different culture of designers than Gaultier. “I remember discovering him, but I was in a Belgian school so I was attracted to Japanese designers and all this. But I knew the subjects he was talking about: AIDS, diversity, the skinny, the fat, the weirdness; he was embracing everything. He did it thirty years ago.” Echoing Gaultier’s passion for human rights, Ackermann interrupted his sensual spoken word soundtrack (which whispered each model’s name as they walked down the runway) with the song “Baraye” by the Iranian artist Shervin Hajipour, written about the killing of Mahsa Amini in September 2022 and the fight for women’s rights in Iran that ensued. “It’s a human message. In haute couture, you’re bringing the woman up there on a pedestal, so you can’t not think about every other woman and her right to freedom, too,” Ackermann said.

For Ackermann, it was about the atelier

After accepting the invitation to design the collection, Ackermann has been spending time with Gaultier in Paris. “We’ve had dinners together, discussing love and sex and all the things that matter – except fashion. He didn’t want to touch that subject because he wanted to give me total carte blanche. He has seen nothing, and he doesn’t want to know anything.” Instead, Gaultier left Ackermann in the capable hands of the ladies of his atelier, many of whom have been there for decades. Speaking of the purity that defined the collection, Ackermann said it was a way of highlighting their work. “I think there’s space for it, and it’s a way for me to honour that part of him – which is extraordinary. Because there you see the real work, and you understand what the ateliers are about. The chance to spend hours with the ladies up there, that’s why I love my job more than ever. They are so delicate in their work. It’s very moving.”

These Topsy-Turvy Couture Gowns Just Upstaged Kylie Jenner’s Divisive Lion Dress

It’s been quite the eventful week so far in Paris at the haute couture shows, from Apple Martin – daughter of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin – making a surprise appearance on the front row at Chanel, to emerging designer Miss Sohee debuting an off-schedule collection that sent the fashion set into a frenzy. Let’s not forget, also, the divisive animal-inspired looks (man-made, of course) at Schiaparelli, which Kylie Jenner also wore to show support. However, Viktor & Rolf may have just topped the list of unforgettable moments with its latest show.

At the Intercontinental Le Grand hotel in Paris, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren showcased a collection of head-turning looks that were their most meme-worthy yet. The show began with a handful of breathtaking tulle dresses in the most delectable confectionary hues. But as the show progressed, the dresses started to appear in the most bizarre positionings – from appearing slightly lopsided and with a bustier placement right up to the model’s neck, to being entirely sideways, as well as upside-down and covering the face. With certain looks, it seemed as if the model was carrying the dress while wearing undergarments.

In previous seasons, the design duo have brought out some joy-inducing moments on the runway, whether it’s the kooky doll heads from autumn/winter 2017, or the meme-inspired gowns from spring/summer 2019, emblazoned with giant slogans (“No photos, please”). As always, a touch of light-heartedness is extremely welcome at couture fashion week.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Armani Privé’s Harlequin-Inspired S/S´23 Show

Giorgio Armani was inspired by a Harlequin painting for Armani Privé’s spring/summer 2023 collection, which featured the character’s trademark diamonds and ruffled collars. Below, see British Vogue fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen’s five key takeaways from the show at Paris couture week.

It was inspired by Harlequin

It’s rare to see Giorgio Armani go to town on a concrete theme quite like he did in this season’s Privé show. Inspired by a painting he’d seen of Harlequin – the mischievous and romantic commedia dell’arte figure – he emblazoned Le Garde Républicaine in the character’s emblematic multi-coloured diamond pattern. The set design echoed a collection that iterated on the same motif in a wealth of techniques and silhouettes, gilded with the theatrical ruffs of the Italian comedy. “The painting captures the complexity of the character, who is not just about laughter and giggling, but also hides a slight melancholy,” Armani said. “And then, what intrigues me, is the colour palette, which is not as bright as one would expect. It is Harlequin seen through the patina of memory.”

Harlequin diamonds appeared in every technique and silhouette

Armani employed the Harlequin print as a way of demonstrating the possibilities of his haute couture atelier. It appeared as if embossed or quilted into the velvet and silks of jackets, evoked through embroidery in all-sequined garments, or placed meticulously in the intarsia of tailoring. It was woven delicately into super-fine transparent knitted tops, incorporated into the lace of long skirts, beaded painstakingly into gowns, and brought to three-dimensional life in stoles created from diamond-cut fabric. As the show progressed – lifted by the violins of Vivaldi and Veneziano – Armani filtered the Harlequin print into the cuts of silhouettes: diamond-shaped brassieres, diamond necklines, dresses wrapped to create the lines of diamonds, and through the filtrages of transparent or netted layers characteristic of Privé.

Sparkle and shimmer were big themes

The duality Harlequin embodies – the fun and the melancholy – felt fairly representative of an haute couture week that’s played out amid a heavy start to 2023. Between wars, inflation, and the reactionary and populist waves washing over our societies, it can be difficult for designers as well as audiences to find the right tone. Ever the played-down poet, Armani veiled his collection in layers of shimmer. “Of course, we are going through a very difficult time and sparkling might be at odds with the current situation, but I also think that sometimes fashion can play an important part in lifting up the spirit,” he said. “It is important to find a balance, so we should be aware of what is happening in the world but we should also let fashion – and its shimmering – cheer us up.”

It was inspirational beyond the technical level

In times like these, the idea of haute couture can seem out-of-place, but for Armani – and his fellow couturiers – this age-old institution isn’t as much about creating one-off creations for the elite, but about developing, through their experimental artisanal laboratories, techniques and sentiments that can inspire fashion and its surrounding world. “The role of haute couture today can certainly be questioned, but I believe it can also be an important way to preserve an immense wealth of knowledge and techniques, a savoir faire that is truly unique,” Armani said. “Also, we have to be honest and acknowledge that today there are clients for this kind of product. While for other people, couture can be a beautiful way to dream.” Judging by the attention the haute couture shows get on social media alone, there’s something to be said for using the power of this colossal platform.

It was a message of lightness

In essence, Armani said, he wanted to deliver a sense of lightness. “I wanted to explore light and colour, so I hope women will take away a feeling of lightness and shimmering, a feeling of joy like the one that inspired the collection: the idea of a Venetian ball where dresses sparkle and seem to dance. I really like the looks with a little ruffle, a white gorget around the neck. Because that soft touch gives light to the face, and I think the first thing you notice in a woman is her expression which tells so much about her.”

Chanel’s Animal-Centric S/S´23 Couture Show

Virginie Viard once again called upon Xavier Veilhan – with whom she has worked three times – to create the animal-inspired set for her spring/summer 2023 Chanel couture showcase, which ultimately became the starting point for her collection. Anders Christian Madsen was at the show.

The show set featured moving cardboard animals

If tripping out on a Tuesday morning doesn’t sound very Chanel, allow Virginie Viard and her faithful set collaborator Xavier Veilhan to surprise you. The show they put on in an imagined city square within the Grand Palais Ephémère – the house’s stand-in venue on Place Joffre while the real deal gets refurbished – came with a rave soundtrack, giant spinning horses and elephants (and what looked like a gigantic wedding cake), and enough top hats, bow ties and three-dimensional ruffles to make Lewis Carroll lightheaded. It was great fun: as guests took their seats, large-scale takes on the bestiary Gabrielle Chanel kept in her Rue Cambon apartment – objects portraying horses, lions, camels, birds etc – rolled around the floor before models stepped out of them like Trojan horses and zigzagged their way through this impromptu sculpture park.

It was a dialogue between the set and the collection

“For the third time, Virginie is working with Xavier Veilhan and it’s a very good starting point for the collection. Virginie loves seeing what he is able to propose, and it’s a dialogue between them. Here, it’s a new experience, daring to include unexpected elements which give a story. It’s her vision from the Chanel bestiary but a very modern approach,” Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel’s president of fashion, said before the show. “I found it interesting to evoke the relationships to animals which is constantly evolving in our societies. This time I wanted to move towards something immediate and straightforward, with lightness and fantasy, without being naïve,” Veilhan commented. While there was a rawness and minimalism to the set-up, the outcome was light-hearted – a feeling backed up by Felix’s techno “Don’t You Want Me” from 1992.

Bestiary motifs adorned the collection

“I see more than ever the décor pushing the collection. It’s a lancement of the collection,” Pavlovsky said. “Virginie uses décor to maximise the details, and it’s working pretty well for Chanel. Working with different artistic compositions helps to launch and position the collection. She uses it to give maximum visibility.” The bestiary motifs filtered into the garments themselves, in large crystal dog head embellishments, sparkly embroidery collages of bunnies and cats, and the swallow-stitched veil that adorned the bride (who emerged from a colossal rolling elephant). This was by no means a cutesy collection, however. Viard adapted the animal motifs into silhouettes that were simplified both in volumes and hemlines: short shorts and miniskirt-suits, long-line column dresses, and tuxedo-inspired tailoring elements.

It was inspired by parades

Viard cited parades and majorettes as inspirations for the collection, something that could easily have manifested in a very different expression had she not reduced and distilled her influences the way she did. When constructions intensified, like the dense micro-ruffling of a rigid A-line skirt and a floor-length coat, or the polite petticoats adorned in tactile flower applique, she maintained her purified approach. It materialised in a mainly black and white palette, with occasional dusty colours. “I like it when the marvellous bursts forth and the course of events is interrupted,” she said, referring to the set, but the same could be said for her own creations. In the unlikely meeting she staged between couture, pageantry and techno, the Chanel collection emerged triumphantly sophisticated.

Fashion Manifesto is coming to the V&A

For Chanel, the haute couture show was the first of many events to come in 2023. Pavlovsky, who was wearing a sparkly tie to go with Viard’s rave, said he was particularly looking forward to the arrival of Fashion Manifesto – originally launched at the Palais Galliera – at London’s V&A in September. Through the original dresses of Gabrielle Chanel, the exhibition showcases the impressive modernity of the founder’s earliest designs. “For us, it’s important for the new generations. I hope that this kind of modern link with the past will continue to exist,” he said, the techno beat of the couture rehearsals throbbing faintly in the background. “It’s to wake everybody up in the morning! It’s about joy,” he smiled. Did Pavlovksy ever rave? “My rave is between PowerPoints and shows!”

Giambattista Valli’s Beverly Hills-Inspired S/S´23 Haute Couture Show

Giambattista Valli drew inspiration from the glitz and glamour of Beverly Hills for his spring couture spectacle in Paris. British Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen reports.

The collection was inspired by Beverly Hills

There are few better ways to spend an afternoon than people-watching over lunch at The Beverly Hills Hotel: the pastel dresses, the platform shoes, the coiffure and the euphoric parfum of La La Land where life – as Lisa Vanderpump has taught us – may not be all diamonds and rosé, but should be. Giambattista Valli spent part of his autumn there taking it all in, bringing it back to Paris and turning it into the candy floss confections that fill those women’s dreams. “It’s not about Hollywood,” he said. “It’s about socialites in Beverly Hills: something peaceful, something happy; an almost trippy atmosphere.”

It was a moment of escapism

On his backstage moodboard at the Espace Vendôme were pictures of pictures from the hallways of The Beverly Hills Hotel: dreamy 1950s scenes of pink Cadillacs dropping off women in clouds of pastel-coloured tulle in front of its gates to paradise and Slim Aarons photographs of poolside situations depicting the daytime life of those same tribes of people. “I love the idea of women from all over the world going to Beverly Hills – the idea of the invitation,” Valli said. “It’s an escape – I would love to give people an escapist moment.” We all know that times are tough, but taking a couture-infused breather just once in a while is probably good for the mind.

Everything was super light

Valli’s 90210 dreams unfolded on a sprawling white carpet where his frothy fragments of fantasy waltzed around like a night in the Crystal Ballroom: draped and ballooned faille gowns, micro-plissé chiffon chitons, organdie feathered into furry column dresses and the same idea mirrored in multi-colour plume. Everywhere you looked, fabrics were bouncing as if in slow-motion, a representation of the Beverly Hills mentality: “There’s something about the weight of the lightness. It’s hard to find that kind of balance. You cannot take it so seriously. We’re talking about gowns for parties and happy times, and you have to enjoy making it,” Valli said.

A special guest closed the show

“When they come to us, they want something very extreme: volumes, chiffon, clouds of colours,” Valli said, referring to an haute couture clientele that’s entirely distinct to his business. They’re young, fun and unapologetic in their love of the princess fantasies this kind of savoir-faire can provide. Before the Brazilian actress Marina Ruy Barbosa emerged – to the finale soundtrack of The White Lotus theme – in a sequin and crystal-embroidered jacket worn over an ivory silk faille moiré trouser and a draped tulle cape – a super-dimensional white multi-ruffled creation showed off 500 metres of tulle worked into a bridal gown.

It was brains on legs

“There’s a category of girls who are really fabulous, who don’t care about trends but care about having fun,” Valli mused, gesturing at a running order where more than a few looks had their legs out. “I love legs and brains,” he said, name-checking Amal Clooney and Huma Abedin as some of the women who inspire that image. “I love the power of someone who is in balance with their femininity.” Asked whom he’d most like to dress on the Oscars red carpet – Hollywood is next door to Beverly Hills, after all – Valli’s answer perfectly summed up his ideal woman: “Meryl Streep!”

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Dior’s Josephine Baker-Inspired S/S´23 Couture Show

Josephine Baker, Marlene Dietrich and other powerful women of the ’20s served as inspiration for Maria Grazia Chiuri’s spring/summer 2023 Dior couture collection. Anders Christian Madsen was at the show in Paris.

The collection took inspiration from the Roaring ’20s

Maria Grazia Chiuri’s haute couture collection for Christian Dior was inspired by Josephine Baker and the glitz and glamour that defined her era. But beyond that, it was an accomplished exercise in distilling a reference to an expression that suited the present-day mentality. The minimal lines and faded opulence that embodied her proposal captured the not-so-roaring ’20s in which we find ourselves through a distinctly modern, slick and relevant lens that felt both appropriate and desirable. “I came back from Christmas and the atmosphere was heavy,” Chiuri sighed during a preview. “The war in Ukraine, Iran, the cost of living crisis… We are very scared in Italy with new legislation about abortion. England is having a difficult moment after Brexit. I understand that the minister of New Zealand says, ‘I’m tired.’ She’s brave and honest,” she said, referring to Jacinda Ardern’s resignation. While this collection reflected that sensibility, it was anything but tired.

Josephine Baker and Marlene Dietrich played muse

After studying the power-dressing of Catherine de’ Medici for last season’s ready-to-wear collection, Chiuri detected a similar approach in the wardrobe of Josephine Baker. As a Black cabaret singer in 1920s Paris – and an example of the nouvelle femme – she used clothes as a tool to combat and transcend the racial stereotyping and gender roles of her time. With her growing stardom, Baker became a couture client at Dior and upon her triumphant return to America in 1951, Jet magazine ran a cover line that boasted about her “$250,000 wardrobe”. A wartime resistance fighter and early civil rights activist, Baker – who attended Yves Saint Laurent’s haute couture show for Dior in ’59 – took fashion seriously as a cultural force for change. In doing so, she echoed her contemporary Marlene Dietrich, whose provocative penchant for masculine dress codes earned her a spot alongside Baker on Chiuri’s board of season muses.

Chiuri reduced the cabaret wardrobe into a relevant expression

“I like the idea of creating a collection that’s inspired by the ’20s, when cabaret dresses were sparkly and embroidered and glamorous, and mixing it with real life: the tailleur, the uniform,” Chiuri said. “I’m a very pragmatic woman who likes clothes you can wear. Working with the feeling that comes from this reference, you can create something that works for today.” She took the elements of Baker’s heyday – fringed dresses, bustier dresses, metallic dresses – and purified their lines, relaxed them in construction and quieted their glitter factor until only the memory of them remained. The idea lent itself well to Chiuri’s couture practice, which has always employed the techniques of the atelier to create expressions founded in reality. And so, she hand-embroidered pale gold microcuvette with platinum tube fringes, draped burnished silver lamé jacquard into Grecian curves, and worked the finest gleaming crushed velvet into cowl-back evening silhouettes.

It had couturified elements of underwear and robes

The exuberant performances of Baker inspired research into the undergarments of the time, and the interwar period fashion for entertaining at home – or in fabulous hotel suites – in housecoats and robes. Chiuri transformed the pieces into a kind of evening look, like one composed of a black satin smocked satin swimsuit worn under a silk velvet robe with black lapels stitched in a diamond pattern. The idea expanded into more dressy oscillating crepe satin negligees paired with outerwear that borrowed from the herringbone and tweed of the gentleman’s wardrobe. Enter Marlene and her strict black tailoring, now slightly softened like a pleated marled wool jacket and skirt suit, a similar silhouette created in grey blistered jacquard, or a slate-grey felted wool cape that Chiuri understandably couldn’t help but swoon over in the showroom. “This kind of work, it’s so minimal… but it’s so couture!”

Mickalene Thomas created the set

Presented in a structure in the garden of Musée Rodin – “La Vita” by Beverly Glenn-Copeland on the sound system – the runway was framed by huge textile-based artworks created by the African-American artist Mickalene Thomas and over-embroidered by the Chanakya School of Craft in India. They portrayed thirteen Black or mixed-race women, whose contributions to culture opened the doors for new generations: Josephine Baker and Nina Simone; actresses Diahann Carroll, Dorothy Dandridge and Marpessa Dawn; actors and singers Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt, Josephine Premice and Hazel Scott; models Donyale Luna, Naomi Sims and Helen Williams; and the model agent Ophelia DeVore. “The consideration was to research a diverse and eclectic group of women with the odds set against them,” Thomas said. “In spaces that attempted to reject or impede their success, they persevered with confidence, elegance, beauty and talent.”

Monday, January 23, 2023

Schiaparelli’s Dante-Inspired S/S´23 Couture Show

From divisive foam animal heads to Daniel Roseberry’s meditation on Dante’s Inferno, British Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen shares five things to know about Schiaparelli’s spring/summer 2023 couture show, which opened Couture Fashion Week this season.

The show featured faux animal heads

It took place in the Petit Palais, but it felt like a morning at the theatre. Kylie Jenner arrived with a huge lion’s head attached to her dress. Doja Cat came covered in a balaclava of red crystals. In between were the clients, their faces gilded in golden fineries, their backs enforced with spinal cord-embellished coats. The attention-grabbing designs of Daniel Roseberry have turned Schiaparelli into a 24-hour red-carpet photo op, or in the case of today’s haute couture show, perhaps an opening night on Broadway. The trophy room of faux animal heads that mutated from his creations – a lion, a snow leopard, a wolf – certainly blurred the lines between runway and stage, or as Roseberry put it: “The lines between the real and the unreal.” That idea made for an approach to the trademark surrealism of Schiaparelli less obscure than previous proposals, but one that felt right for his fans and followers.

The collection was inspired by Dante’s Inferno

In his self-penned show notes, Roseberry cited Dante’s Inferno as the inspiration behind the collection, likening its protagonist’s uncertain journey into hell to the doubt that falls upon a designer like himself when he sits down to design. “This collection is my homage to doubt,” he wrote. “I wanted to step away from techniques I was comfortable with and understood, to choose instead that dark wood where everything is scary but new.” The feeling of the inferno appeared more as a spiritual reference than a direct one, unless your idea of hell is being trapped inside a massive faux taxidermy wolf, Midsommar style. (Naomi Campbell, who was given the honour, seemed typically unfazed.) Along with the lion and the snow leopard, it represented the animals Dante equates to lust, pride and avarice. A reference to the friendly giants he encounters in hell, a hammered brass and patina handmade giant’s head hit the runway with equal theatrical effect.

There was a shell theme

To a Philip Glass soundtrack grandiose enough for a spaceship launch, Roseberry interpreted the scenery of Dante’s The Divine Comedy in techniques he said were inspired by the “house of mirrors quality” of the work, i.e. surreal. They materialised in things that weren’t as they seemed: hand-painted velvet dresses, others covered in wooden balls, and some embroidered with sequins made from leather-covered tin. The plastrons – or breastplates – that have become a Roseberry signature emerged in the form of a massive marquetry shell, a timely motif (The Little Mermaid live action film comes out on 26 May), echoed in a shell-like cone bra embellished in said leather-covered metal sequins. Another plastron in gold wasn’t a plastron at all, but golden body-paint on a model’s naked torso styled casually with a crepe trouser and an amber necklace.

The tailoring silhouette was formiddable

In tailoring looks less likely to do the rounds on Instagram than animal heads and plastrons, but probably a lot more painstaking to create, Roseberry investigated a formidable silhouette cut huge and boxy at the shoulder, sleeve and bust only to nip in at the waist and sculpt angularly along the hip bone. Also interpreted in a bolero, it had a whiff of toreador about it, but maybe it was conjured by the association with severed animal heads. The silhouette was explored in evening jackets, a jumpsuit, and a leather dress so sculpted it virtually morphed into one of Roseberry’s breastplates. More rooted in reality, those shapes paved the way for purified evening dresses imbued with hints of surrealism, like a black satin wool dress with a wonky bustier or a champagne velvet dress shaped like a lampshade, both framed by stoles so rigid they could have been the autonomous cape of Doctor Strange.

It was about Roseberry’s creativity

Roseberry’s show notes finished on a sentimental key: “Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso,” he wrote, referring to the three books that make up The Divine Comedy. “One cannot exist without the others. It is a reminder that there is no such thing as heaven without hell; there is no joy without sorrow; there is no ecstasy of creation without the torture of doubt. My prayer for myself is that I remember that always – that, on my most difficult days, when inspiration just won’t come, I remember that no ascension to heaven is possible without first a trip to the fires, and the fear that comes with it. Let me embrace it always.” As a wise lion once said: Hakuna matata.

Maison Margiela’s “Cyberpunk Americana” Show

Maison Margiela’s 2023 co-ed show began where its autumn/winter 2022 haute couture collection left off, with the story of star-crossed lovers Count and Hen. Below, Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen shares his key five takeaways from the ground in Paris.

The show took place in Maison Margiela’s new building

A video screened to Maison Margiela’s digital audience before its ready-to-wear show on Sunday foreshadowed events: filmed in POV outside John Galliano’s sprawling, optical white new headquarters on Place des États-Unis in the hallowed haute couture land of the 17th arrondissement, it captured the sound of a car crash and helicopters hovering in the air. As real-life guests arrived and entered the building, we were led through rooms transformed into filmic, sensory tableaux from last summer’s epic stage production, Cinema Inferno, complete with mannequins fitted in the haute couture looks of its characters. In Galliano’s glass-roofed haute couture atelier, the life-size crash of the vintage car driven by the story’s fugitive protagonists, Count and Hen, hung in the air. They had returned! Then, we were taken to the runway…

It built on the narrative from July’s haute couture collection

In order to understand what unfolded after the prelude Galliano staged in his new building, a recap of July’s performance – which also exists in a film version on YouTube – is in order. After killing their abusive parents, star-crossed lovers Count and Hen were chased through the Arizona desert by sinister cowboys. Pregnant and wounded from a gunfight, they sought refuge in an old cinema where – bleeding and delirious – they were sucked into a cinematic loop of horror scenes founded in classic American cinema. Cut to January 2023 and we, the audience, had left them for dead, until Galliano decided to pull them out of their limbo. Imagining what the lovechild they were expecting might have looked like – an amalgamation of the aristocratic and nouveau riche characters he had created for them – he found his new ready-to-wear muse.

It was cyberpunk Americana

In a stark, mirrored catwalk room on the fifth floor of Maison Margiela’s new building, Galliano’s multi-disciplinary experience climaxed in a runway show that filtered into ready-to-wear the influences of last year’s haute couture collection. Infused with the motifs of the Cinema Inferno universe – American Western, prom night, cultish communities, teenage rebels – it materialised in what he called contemporary “cyberpunk rebels with a conscience”, with a soundtrack to match. Distinctly American fabrics and patterns like Pendleton plaid and floral barkcloth interweaved with Wild Western coats and 1950s prom dresses in a youth-tastic fusion invigorated with the spirit of cyberpunk through hacked up constructions, safety pin and soda can embellishments, and bin bag fascinator and cadet hats. Sometimes, the silhouettes evoked the memory of Galliano’s momentous graduation collection, “Les Incroyables”, which turns 40 next year.

Galliano collaborated with Disney

Where July’s haute couture collection employed Western themes as symbols of the abuse of power, this collection turned those images on their head, through a kind of subversion only Galliano could master. Outerwear had cut-outs that looked like the yokes of cowboy clothes, but on closer inspection, they were actually the silhouette of the ears of Mickey Mouse. He named it “Rorschach cutting” after the psychoanalyst, who would show his patients abstract inkblot images and ask them what they saw. The idea triggered a collaboration with Disney – the happiest place on Earth – which Galliano approached through vintage Mickey Mouse hats and T-shirts, some spliced with corsets. Other new techniques included bias-cut dresses hacked up and customised into rompers, incredible levels of splicing and fusing several garments into one, and so-called Monster Tabi-toed shoes that industrially replicated those he spliced together from several 20th-century designer shoes for haute couture.

It cemented Maison Margiela’s evolution under Galliano

Like Cinema Inferno, which completely reimagined the fashion show format, Galliano’s first ready-to-wear presentation since the pandemic was an innovative staging that drew on all the things we learned during the lockdown periods – but which most seemed to quickly forget. Not Galliano. His orchestration spliced physical and digital elements with immersive and interactive components, setting an inspiring and awesome precedent for the future of fashion shows. After the runway presentation, guests climbed the stairs to the building’s rooftop where huge billboards screened the house’s new e-commerce concept against the skyline of Paris. The experience cemented the evolution of Maison Margiela under the creative direction of Galliano, who always said he wanted to turn it into “the coolest, most cutting-edge couture house”. When he celebrates his 10th anniversary in that house in the 17th next year, it will be on the same stomping grounds that birthed some of his career’s most monumental couture collections. Mission: accomplished.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

J-Hope Is Now The MVP Of Fashion Week

When, in the summer of 2022, the world learned that BTS would be going on a break, debates raged on Twitter about what would be next for each of its seven members. For its part, Vogue suggested that J-Hope – also known as Hobi – might well set his sights on conquering the fashion industry. “He sports the most experimental fits in BTS, combining everything from streetwear to luxury brands,” journalist Taylor Glasby wrote back in June. “His influence has expanded so much that Etsy has a bank of creators and sellers whose wares are listed under ‘Hobicore’, so an organic step for him would be a collaboration with a rising brand that complements his eclectic and forward-thinking tastes.”

Cut to the menswear collections in Paris this month, and Hobi is proving he’s well on his way to infiltrating the upper echelons of the industry. For his first outing on 19 January, the “More” musician popped up at Louis Vuitton in an abstract suede patchwork look to see guest designer Colm Dillane, stylist Ibrahim Kamara and film director Michel Gondry’s collaboration for the house – causing a frenzy in the process. (A variation of the print on J-Hope’s jacket and trousers later cropped up on the LV runway – making him one of the first to wear it.) As a group, BTS has a longstanding relationship with Louis Vuitton, even wearing the brand to the Grammys in 2022, but Hobi’s solo appearance cemented his status as a high fashion poster boy in his own right.

The following day, he joined bandmate Jimin – Dior’s newest global ambassador – on the front row to admire Kim Jones’s The Waste Land-inspired offering, pairing a CD Silver Choker with a grey pleated look. And on Saturday? He bundled up in a shearling-lined jacket by Hermès to step into the French maison’s “cave of wonders” for autumn/winter 2023. If Blackpink’s Jennie, Lisa, Jisoo and Rosé have become regulars at Paris Fashion Week, it’s only fair that the menswear collections should have some K-pop stardust, too – and who better to lead the charge than Hobi?

Hermès’ Princely A/W´23 Men’s Show

For her autumn/winter 2023 menswear collection at Hermès, Véronique Nichanian leaned into an aristocratic sensibility. Anders Christian Madsen reports.

It had a touch of aristo

After her Hermès show, Véronique Nichanian spoke about “a poetic sensibility”. As tradition prescribes, she isn’t a designer who spells out her inspirations to the spectator – favouring instead a chicly elusive approach – but this time, her proposal was more directional, more styled, more suggestive of a certain definable character. The elegant looks that closed the show – their necks tied up and bejewelled like 19th-century dandies – had an air of aristocracy about them, a princeling-like disposition that suited an autumn/winter season which has been formalising its lines, cutting a ceremonial silhouette that feels more serious and refined. “Aristocratic?” she said, confronted with the impression. “That’s fine with me!”

The outerwear was everything

Presented in the UNESCO building – with its macro-mosaic cold, grey stone floors – there was a chilly sophistication to the Hermès collection: angular-cut purified leather coats, jackets and trousers in dusty greys and whites, softly sculpted trousers in draped volumes, fabrics that crinkled crisply like they were almost too fine to wear. The levels of luxe that define Hermès can often feel that way, and it only increases the desirability. This collection excelled in that seduction, from the minimalist navy admiral’s coat to the leather-cuffed tan peacoat and the formal tailoring that hit us at the end, this show was pure outerwear fetish for extra-discerning practitioners.

There were elements of heirlooms

Within her princely, Baudelairean sensibility, another motif began to form in the collection: tops that looked as if they were reconstructed from silk scarves, knits that seemed woven from antique scraps, and tailoring decorated – or mended – with geometrically-shaped fragments of fabric. The techniques all conjured ideas of repurposed heirlooms, memories, and poetry. “When you like something and you don’t want to throw it away,” Nichanian reflected, touching upon a value that’s becoming increasingly prevalent this season: the imbuement of soul into the things we wear and the importance of character in garments.

It didn’t neglect the sportswear

The Hermès collection may have been a formal affair, but Nichanian layered her tailoring and antique-looking knitwear with all the tropes of the sportswear wardrobe, from joggers cuffed at the ankle and baggy trousers to zipped sweatshirts, shell jackets and gilets. Only, their construction and fabrication – or, in many cases, leather-ication – had been amped to the max, completely blurring the lines between sporty, casual and even formal. In that sense, the collection was an exercise in a truly contemporary wardrobe: a post-dress code mentality that freely blends the functions and values of garments.

The accessories were mind-blowing

With the amount of outerwear seduction going down her runway, Nichanian’s addition of accessories almost knocked you off your seat. The supersized, sculpted, slightly aged Birkins! The platformed monk-boots in glazed leathers! The fancy foulards and stirrup-y silver necklaces… There’s only so much a boy can take.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Dior’s TS Eliot-Infused A/W´23 Men’s Show

For his autumn/winter 2023 menswear offering for Dior, Kim Jones turned to TS Eliot’s The Waste Land for inspiration. Anders Christian Madsen reports from the front row.

The show featured Gwendoline Christie and Robert Pattinson

The poetry that characterised the Dior show this season was much-needed. Presented in a structure on Place de la Concorde, a massive screen wrapped around the runway. As the lights dimmed, huge high-resolution close-ups of Gwendoline Christie and Robert Pattinson’s faces appeared in front of us. And then, they spoke. In their deep, dramatic voices, they recited The Waste Land by TS Eliot – the intense, complicated, significant poem written after the Great War – as Kim Jones’s wistful creations floated down the runway in an intense harmony offering a moment of reflection.

The collection drew on the work of Yves Saint Laurent

If Eliot’s poem deals with post-war decay and disillusionment – themes as relevant in 2023 as they were in 1922 when he wrote it – Jones’s collection was about restoration. “I was preoccupied with the idea of regeneration and renewal this season and how to approach it,” he said. He reflected the idea in the history of Dior itself: the house’s 1958 transition from the death of Christian Dior to the arrival of Yves Saint Laurent, who, at 21, became the youngest couturier ever, and whose progressive outlook would be a watershed in fashion.

It was water-themed

In the fishermen’s shirts Saint Laurent transformed into haute couture silhouettes – at a time when taking inspiration from working men’s clothes was not the done thing – Jones detected a connection with The Waste Land’s themes of water (more specifically, thirst and drowning). It materialised in a water-centric collection that transmuted Jones’s romantic, delicate tailoring and workwear with details and constructions native to fishing and sailing, including various plays on life jackets. “There is a sense of change in the individual garments themselves, which can often be worn in different ways by the wearer, metamorphosing,” Jones said.

It proposed new ideas of suiting

“There is a sense of change and ease in the collection, particularly through the tailoring silhouettes,” Jones explained. “A coming together of the formal with the informal.” He was referring to the hybridisations of tailoring and knitwear in looks that emerged as a generational take on suiting: soft and easy but with the elegance of old-fashioned dress codes. It’s a study to which Jones is no stranger, and, infused with the spirit of Saint Laurent, it made total sense.

It was a moment of reflection

With all its influencers and selfie sticks and hordes of fashion fans crowding the entrances of shows, Jones’s staging made for a striking contrast to the hustle and bustle of fashion week, itself such a contrast to the dismal things taking place in the real world. Behind the scenes this season, designers are talking about how to redirect the spotlights of their enormous platforms to those realities. In the timeless melancholy of Eliot’s epic, Jones found a poetic way of doing just that.