Thursday, March 23, 2023

What To Expect From The V&A’s Blockbuster Chanel Exhibition

Gabrielle Coco Chanel’s contribution to fashion will be recognised in a landmark V&A exhibition in 2023. Based on Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto, a retrospective of the designer’s six-decade career curated by Paris’s Palais Galliera, the London institution will put its own twist on the display catalogue, with rarely seen pieces from the V&A’s own archive.

To state the obvious, this is going to be major for Chanelophiles and anyone who has even the faintest interest in fashion history. This is the woman who reshaped what it was like to get dressed in the early 20th century through her ground-breaking silhouettes that prioritised freedom over tradition. Her Chanel 2.55 – the most famous bag by the house even to this day – was the first mainstream shoulder bag, and loaded with practical details, from a middle compartment intended for storing lipsticks to a discreet zip-lined inner made to conceal love letters. Even the chain strap was inspired by the tiny weights Chanel used to give her bouclé jackets an immaculate finish.

All these details, plus many more intricacies at the heart of Chanel, will be reflected in a 10-section showcase spanning the opening of Coco’s first Parisian boutique in 1910 to the presentation of her final Chanel collection in 1971. More than 200 looks will go on display in South Kensington alongside jewellery, accessories, cosmetics and perfumes, from one of the earliest surviving Chanel designs from 1916 to costumes for the Ballet Russes’ 1924 production of Le Train Bleu and pieces worn by Hollywood legends Lauren Bacall and Marlene Dietrich. Individual sections of the exhibition, meanwhile, will be dedicated to Chanel No 5 and its impact; the house’s closure during the Second World War; the timeless Chanel suit, with more than 50 examples on show; and a study of the brand’s pioneering costume jewellery. Coco Chanel’s love of British culture – as evidenced by her adoption of tweed – will also be explored in depth.

Stay tuned for information on Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto, which will run from 16 September 2023 to 25 February 2024.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Jeremy Scott Steps Down As Creative Director At Moschino After A Decade

After a decade steering Moschino, it’s been announced that Jeremy Scott will be exiting the role of creative director at the Aeffe-owned Italian brand. “These past 10 years at Moschino have been a wonderful celebration of creativity and imagination. I am so proud of the legacy I am leaving behind,” Scott said in a statement. “I would like to thank Massimo Ferretti for the honour of leading this iconic house. I would also like to thank all my fans around the world who celebrated me, my collections, and my vision, for without you none of this would be possible.”

Scott presented his first collection for the cheeky Franco Moschino-founded label during the autumn/winter 2014 season. “Scott’s embrace of consumer culture in the name of Moschino was bright, brash, and ingenious,” wrote Tim Blanks in Vogue Runway’s review of the collection, which mixed McDonald’s logos, cow prints, and even Spongebob Squarepants. Scott’s penchant for mixing high and low aesthetics resonated with many of the decade’s most iconic pop stars. Everyone from Lady Gaga to Cardi B to Lizzo found a kindred spirit in his irreverent take on culture and fashion. Who else but Scott could dress Katy Perry as a literal chandelier (and a hamburger for the after-party) to attend the “Notes on Camp”-themed Met Gala in 2019?

In 10 years, Scott’s Moschino runways riffed on the subject of Barbie (a full decade before Barbie-core took over), paper dolls (a playful dig at the superficiality of the fashion business), cardboard (in an apparent critique of overconsumption), and money. The autumn/winter 2019 Price Is Right show will go down in runway history as one the funniest shows ever. He once even staged a show on a New York City subway at the MTA Transit Museum – complete with “Showtime” dancers.

His ability to remix the zeitgeist through Franco Moschino’s vision made the brand a viral success many times over – though not without the occasional misstep. A capsule collection released for spring/summer 2017 called “Just Say MoschiNO” was pill-themed, and many took offense to bags shaped like prescription pill bottles, given the opioid crisis sweeping the nation.

During most of his tenure at Moschino, Scott was also producing his eponymous label, which suddenly stopped appearing on the fashion show schedule in 2019. Vogue Business’s Christina Binkley brought up its absence from the New York calendar in a recent interview with the designer. Scott hinted that his Moschino schedule kept him too busy. “I want to be sure I have a nice life – I mean, quality time with people,” he told Binkley. The brand’s hiatus may not be an indefinite one. “I own the company, so I can decide,” Scott said.

In a press release, Massimo Ferretti, Chairman of Aeffe S.p.A, which owns both Moschino and Jeremy Scott’s label, said: “I am fortunate to have had the opportunity of working with the creative force that is Jeremy Scott. I would like to thank him for his 10 years of commitment to Franco Moschino’s legacy and for ushering in a distinct and joyful vision that will forever be a part of Moschino history.”

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Pamela Anderson Just Shared The Runway With Supermodel Naomi Campbell

While the Oscars might’ve been the last major event of awards season, the stars were back out at Boss’ ‘see now, buy now’ spring/summer 2023 show in Miami yesterday. Naturally, the runway was awash with the likes of Naomi Campbell, DJ Khaled, Khaby Lame and Precious Lee, to name but a few. Pamela Anderson, who recently made waves with her Netflix documentary Pamela, A Love Story, was also on the lineup.

Spotted at the waterside Herald Plaza venue in Miami, the 55-year-old Baywatch star opened the show in a classic tonal beige ensemble. Her look was comprised of a linen single-breasted blazer and tailored trouser set, worn with an organza shirt, a sheer knitted V-neck top and a pair of patent leather pumps.

Only a few days after announcing on his Instagram account that he was retiring, Law Roach also walked the runway of the waterfront show. This sparked an online debate over what exactly this meant. “I’m not saying I’m retiring from fashion. I love fashion. I love the businesses, and I love being creative,” he clarified with Vogue Runway’s Luke Leitch at the show. “What I’m retiring from is the celebrity styling part of it: The being in service and at service of other people. That’s what I’m retiring from, yeah.”

Anderson has been experiencing a number of exciting high profile fashion moments lately – from her knockout, ultra-sleek red carpet looks, to appearing on the front row at Paris Fashion Week and Versace in Los Angeles last week.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Shawn Mendes Just Created A Collection Of ’90´s Classics For Tommy Hilfiger

American designer Tommy Hilfiger and singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes have joined forces to create a collection inspired by classic preppy hero pieces. In particular they looked towards the early ’90s, with a focus on retro silhouettes and fit, and have modernised these Tommy Hilfiger icons with sustainable fabrics and innovations.

“Modern prep is timeless, and cyclical,” Tommy Hilfiger explains to British Vogue. “So it comes back around. We’re proud that it’s at the core of our brand, but we always look to refresh it and reinvent it, to make it new and exciting. And for us, it’s important to work with cultural pioneers who can bring a distinct perspective to all of these pieces. Otherwise classics can be very boring. We have to figure out ways to make them exciting and fresh. We’ve always worked with icons in pop culture and Shawn is the indisputable icon of this genre and of today.”

The ’90s was the mood for the collection, with Mendes looking back at original archive pieces. “My mom was obsessed with Tommy Hilfiger, and I’ve just always worn it,” he says on a Zoom call from a rainy Los Angeles. “So I think it was written in fate that we ended up working together. I was born in ’98 and so the Tommy energy in the ’90s is what I see if I go back and look at photos of my parents. The archive taught me about the shapes, the feeling, the colours and just the energy that was coming off the clothes at that time. It also felt very aligned with how I feel about fashion right now.” It is the relaxed, throw-on feeling of clothes in this era that really appeals to Mendes: “I think that’s why the ’90s is so exciting because it feels bold and carefree.”

They took inspiration from the ’90s, but looked to modernise these classics too, and one way they did this was through fit. “I think shape is really important and the shapes are not exactly the way they were in the ’90s,” explains Hilfiger. “They were inspired by the ’90s. But I also think detail is important. And I think that if you look at the interior of some of these pieces, you’ll see that the detail is there and it’s very well thought out and there for a reason.” Specific design details in this collaboration include interior waistbands and linings in the jackets with contrasts, and small embroideries, buttons and buttonholes that give the items personality. “Inside the small Tommy flag are my initials, and it’s very, very cool and surreal,” says Mendes of his own favourite detail.

The campaign has a personal feeling as it includes people close and true to Mendes, including his younger sister Aaliyah Mendes and his close friend Jon Vinyl. “That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever gotten to do, actually, truly,” Mendes says about being on set with his sister. “My heart, like seeing her on set and watching her kind of own it. And she just looked incredible. The campaign feels like a sense of home, especially after the last couple of years where I’ve been searching for a sense of stability and a foundation. For Tommy to be accepting of the idea of having my friends and family in the videos was really amazing and I can’t thank Tommy enough for that.” Like any older brother, he was inevitably told he needed to give her some space on set, as Mendes explains: “I remember I showed up on set and I was shaking, because I was so nervous for my sister. I was like ‘How are you feeling? Is everything okay?’ And she goes, ‘You need to leave. You’re stressing me.’”

Mendes is an advocate for sustainability and so it is always going to be an important part of any project he signs up to. “I think like there’s very, very few brands and very, very few people who have been as influential for as long as Tommy Hilfiger has, and to have him take a stand and really deep dive into processes and figure out how to do things as sustainably as possible is just incredible.” One technique that really impressed Mendes was the use of Recycrom, which is pigment powders made from clothing and manufacturing waste.

The 28-piece collection also found ways to be more circular and to create new fibres out of recycled textiles, instead of relying on virgin resources. The collection uses Circulose, a fibre that is made from recycled textile waste. Stand-out items include a stars and stripes rugby shirt which is made from a recycled and organic cotton blend and a varsity jacket which has sleeves made from Econyl, regenerated nylon that is made from plastic waste including fishing nets.

The campaign unites Mendes’s family, as well as advocates for sustainability and next-generation creatives. It includes his sister Aaliyah Mendes, artist, singer-songwriter and close friend Jon Vinyl, record producer Mike Sabath, multidimensional artist Ahmad Cissé, author and model Maye Musk, designer Czarina Kwong, champion for change Deprise Lons, and models Yvesmark Chery and Anita Jane Pathammavong. The Shawn Mendes X Tommy Hilfiger collection launches on Wednesday 15 March.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Gigi, Naomi and Kendall Led The Supermodel Bonanza At Versace

As Donatella Versace took her brand’s autumn/winter 2023 show to Los Angeles, A-listers and international editors flocked to the West Coast to witness the most seductive of fashions in the flesh. While there were numerous stars on the FROW – like Cher, Miley Cyrus, Dua Lipa, Lil Nas X, Paris Hilton and Anne Hathaway, to name a few – the runway was, naturally, awash with supermodels, both legendary and new-era.

Gigi Hadid, who’s made headlines recently as the host of Netflix’s Next in Fashion second season, opened the show at the Pacific Design Centre in West Hollywood wearing a black razor-sharp skirt suit, black leather gloves, stilettos and a black holdall bag (she later wore a breathtaking low-slung gown with sheer corset panels).

Elsewhere, Naomi Campbell turned heads as she sashayed in a halter dress, while Emily Ratajkowski delivered optimum femme fatale in a waist-cinching midi slip and leather gloves. To finish it all off, Kendall Jenner closed the show wearing a crystal-embellished minidress with a voluminous capelet and bejewelled neckline.

Other mega model moments included Adut Akech, Liu Wen, Mariacarla Boscono, Anok Yai, Imaan Hammam, Irina Shayk and Vittoria Ceretti. It’s safe to say that, wherever it may take place in the world, there wouldn’t be a Versace show without a swarm of It-girls commanding the runway.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Chanel’s Floral-Themed A/W´23 Show

Chanel’s autumn/winter 2023 show was inspired by the camellia flower this season, symbolising both strength and softness. See British Vogue fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen’s key takeaways from the ground in Paris.

It was a tribute to the camellia

Chanel’s emblematic camellia flower was given superstar status in Virginie Viard’s show this season. Inside the structure on Place Joffre, where the maison’s shows are held while the Grand Palais undergoes refurbishment, two circular runways surrounded enormous camellia sculptures. As the show started, a film directed by Inez & Vinoodh, starring the actress Nana Komatsu on a merry-go-round, was projected onto the flowers. If those ideas vaguely reflected a theme of circularity, Viard’s collection expressed it in eclecticism: the idea that the Chanel aesthetic is so strong that you can apply it to any silhouette, garment, texture or technique… et voilà, it says Chanel.

It was kind of 1960s

“The camellia is more than a theme, it’s an eternal code of the house. I find it reassuring and familiar. I like its softness and its strength,” Viard said of her source of inspiration. The flower adorned the lapels of a leather coat that opened the show, setting the tone for a collection that cut contrasts between the hard and the soft. This continued in a coat and a skirt suit made from patent leather imbued with a certain kicky 1960s spirit. “An English vibe,” as Viard put it.

Viard went all out on Bermuda shorts

Set to a funky soundtrack – “Tuesday Maybe” by Way Out West – the collection explored a quirky silhouette centred around what Viard called “Bermuda shorts suits”. They appeared in many shapes and sizes, sometimes worn eccentrically over white lace tights, which also appeared overlaid with black lace cycling shorts. The silhouette had a childlike quality about it, amplified by the presence of rompers and mameluke details.

It made a case for handkerchief hems

Viard’s eclecticism reached a new high with the introduction of pompoms on knitwear and dresses in candy floss plume and circular patterns. It added to the childlike spirit of the collection, a feeling mirrored in asymmetrical lines that evolved into handkerchief-hemmed jackets and dresses. Viard summed up the collection’s details as “real and charming”.

The camellia was turned into accessories

Viard adapted her camellia flower into bowling ball-shaped bags with leaf motifs and black patent leather bags shaped as 3D camellias. Black leather boots were printed with a pattern that interwove the camellia and Chanel’s double C, while the toe of ladylike sling-backs were adorned with the classic white camellia.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Is Coming Back – The Internet Is Divided

The annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is coming back. The lingerie brand announced during its 2022 earnings call on Friday that it’s seeking to revamp its Angel wings-filled production, which was once one of the most anticipated (and watched) in the world. “We’re going to continue to lean into the marketing spend to invest in the business… and also to support the new version of our fashion show, which is to come later this year,” confirmed the brand’s CFO, Timothy Johnson. In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, a spokesperson also emphasised that the show will “reinforce our commitment to championing women’s voices and their unique perspectives.”

The event – which once featured top models such as Adriana Lima, Gisele Bündchen, and Heidi Klum – was put on hiatus in November 2019 following VS’s declining sales, poor television ratings, and controversies surrounding the brand. Most notably, it was reported at the time that the company’s CEO, Les Wexner, had close ties to Jeffrey Epstein, who was charged with sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking. (A spokesperson for Mr and Mrs Wexner told the Washington Post in 2019 that they had severed all ties with Epstein in 2007 and condemned Epstein’s “abhorrent behaviour in the strongest possible terms”.) In 2020, a New York Times article accused Edward Razek – the former chief marketing officer of L Brands, Victoria’s Secret’s parent company – of creating a “culture of misogyny, bullying, and harassment.” (Razek told the NYT at the time that the claims were “categorically untrue, misconstrued or taken out of context”, while L Brands did not dispute the allegations made in the report.)

Around the time of its hiatus, there were also rising questions around whether the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was still relevant or appropriate for the current fashion climate. In 2018, Razek was asked if the show needed an overhaul from its bombshells-only aesthetic – meaning if it would ever consider featuring a more diverse cast, including trans or plus-size models. He famously rejected this idea, telling Vogue’s Nicole Phelps, “I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is.”

Around the same time, Rihanna’s lingerie brand, Savage X Fenty, proved that it was possible to have a show that was sexy and diverse. From its first catwalk in 2018, Savage X Fenty has cast models of all sizes as well as those who are queer, trans, non-binary, and drag queens.

Victoria’s Secret aimed to reinvent itself in 2021 too, when it launched its VS Collective campaign featuring plus-size model Paloma Elsesser, LGBTQ+ activist Valentina Sampaio, and US soccer star Megan Rapinoe. The new look and feel of the brand, which shed its signature Angels in favour of products that reflected “what women want,” felt dramatically different and intentional – though perhaps a bit too performative. A Mother’s Day campaign, released shortly after its rebrand, went on to feature a pregnant model in a silky pink robe, a deliberate move to reflect a more inclusive range of body types.

It’s unclear what the new fashion show will entail, but the reactions online to the announcement were mixed. Some were quick to call the brand’s revamp, and its aim to “champion women’s voices,” a direct Savage X Fenty ripple effect. “Ms. Fenty really made them restrategize,” wrote one Twitter user. Others were more cautiously optimistic. “I’ll reserve my outrage until we see if they actually have become inclusive or all this is just merely performative,” wrote another. “Glad it’s coming back,” wrote yet another, “but doubt it will be as glamorous.”

Louis Vuitton’s Modern French A/W´23 Show

Nicolas Ghesquière took time-worn tenets of French style – like pearls and peignoirs – and gave them an abstract twist for autumn/winter 2023 at Louis Vuitton. Anders Christian Madsen reports from Paris Fashion Week.

The show was a study of French style

What is French style? This was the question Nicolas Ghesquière asked himself and his team – who come from around the world – during the research stages of creating this season’s Louis Vuitton collection. The answer unfolded in a typically abstract proposal that transformed some of the signifiers of French style into new manifestations. “Classicism with a twist,” the designer called it: the cliché pearl necklace expanded into an entire pearl dress; bustier dresses were blown-up to supersized scale; there were deconstructed and amplified collar, sleeve and bib elements; prim sweaters inflated and transformed into puffed-up mini-dresses; and peignoirs – the kind you see Parisian ladies wearing on their balconies – were worn over effervescently textured shorts. It was French style through the trippy trans-historicist mind of Ghesquière, where nothing was as it seemed, and yet strangely familiar, all at once.

The runway was an elevated street of Paris

The show took place within the upstairs ballroom and galleries of the Musée d’Orsay, where Ghesquière had invited the artist Philippe Parreno – whose work, much like the designer’s own, revolves around concepts of time – to create an environment for the collection. The elevated runway he built was paved like the streets of Paris, complete with LV-adorned sewer caps and surrounded by what looked like the fragments of a loudspeaker. Some of these strange technological elements rotated slowly like antennas. “Every model has an acoustic device,” Ghesquière explained. “The soundscape captures heartbeats or the fall of footsteps, as well as noise from the city outside. Every model generates a resonance that interacts with echoes from the street.” It unfolded in a soundtrack of traffic noise and footsteps – the everyday atmosphere of Paris.

The theme captured this season’s search for elegance and decorum

Louis Vuitton wasn’t the first house to put its show onto a raised podium this season. Elevation – physical and figurative – has been a theme in Paris, and it’s telling of our moment in time. When we flock to the French capital for the shows, we’re following in the footsteps of tradition, which – centuries before there was haute couture or ready-to-wear – had the royal houses of the world looking to this country for style advice. In the 18th century, the snobbish courts of Northern Europe even took to speaking French rather than their own languages, because the Franco ways represented elegance and decorum. In a new time of strife and uncertainty, it seems we’re once again employing fashion to give us the tools to look and behave appropriately – to hit the right tone. As an historical arbiter of taste and behaviour, French style is integral to that process.

It was all about the coats

“Our history is based on a certain classicism and conventions that are very much part of the legend of Louis Vuitton, a name that also speaks to French culture,” Ghesquière said. “It was about transposing that classicism into a pure expression of fashion. How to articulate that French allure, that blend of sophistication and nonchalance that continues to fascinate the entire world,” he added, explaining that a dress he designed for Anne Démians, who in January became the first female architect inaugurated into the Académie des Beaux-Arts, set him on the path towards exploring French style this season. While it was an abstract affair, he consistently referenced the everyday: terrific coats that hit the season’s soft spot for a broad-shouldered, ankle-length silhouette (they looked like wool but were actually leather), expanded car coats with leather patches, and padded cabans so architectonic they were almost built like houses.

Accessories were abstract and playful

As always, Ghesquière studded his time-travelling parade with excellent accessories. “The boots are like a little wink, as they’re hand-painted to look like pumps,” he said. “The iewellery features little musical instruments, all the brass in a marching band... It is a collection made of faux-semblants, or illusions.” That approach manifested in bags shaped like houses, and others adorned with the Louis Vuitton name imagined as a Parisian street sign. The Tricolour was adapted into a series of quilted handbags, and Santiago-like ankle boots were embellished with sculptural straps on the back, hinting at the construction native to Louis Vuitton’s bags. Some models wore illuminated glasses as a nod to the Opéra Garnier via The Phantom of the Opera, but in the everyday sidewalk context that framed Ghesquière’s show, they recalled the fad for phototherapeutic face masks you now see in the most unlikely places. At the end of the day, French style is played out in the streets. It’s a living, breathing organism.

Monday, March 6, 2023

“It’s A Celebration Of Everyone Living Together In Harmony”: Stella McCartney On Her Live Horse Show For A/W´23

Presented in the Manège de l’École Militaire, the Stella McCartney show featured seven white Camargue horses led by the horse whisperer Jean-François Pignon. Free from halters and bridles, they galloped around the 18th-century riding ring as models strode through the arena in front of them, while Pignon gently encouraged them to rear, run in circles and roll around in the sand. Their presence quite epically framed a collection that re-appropriated the codes of the hunting and military wardrobes through the animal-loving, vegan eyes of McCartney – with more than a few nods to her old Y2K collections for Chloé. Anders Christian Madsen spoke to her after the show.

Anders Christian Madsen: What came first, the horses or the collection?

Stella McCartney: “The collection came first. My mum’s and my sister’s photography and the relationship between my family and myself with horses, and all of our relationships with our fellow creatures. I wanted to try and make the connection. Because obviously there’s so much leather and feathers and fur on the runway, especially in winter, and I just wanted to show that you can do it in a different way. You don’t have to kill anything.”

ACM: How did Jean-François Pignon become involved?

SM: “I saw him many years ago in London at a horse show. I watched him against regalia and horse jumping and the magnificence of that side to equestrians, and then he came into the arena with these wild horses running around. These incredible trusting creatures. It blew me away. They are his wild horses. He doesn’t use any bridles or saddles. He’s a horse whisperer. They’re his pets. They’re his little babies. He’s a miracle.”

ACM: What made you want to focus on equestrianism?

SM: “It’s a big part of being British. And I have a farm in the country and there’s still a hunt next door. I want to make people aware that that’s still going on. Yes, they may not rip it to pieces with dogs, but they shoot the foxes. It’s just crazy to me. But it’s also beautiful: the tailoring, the bespoke work. As someone who studied that for many years, you can’t get away from it. The relationship between the man and the woman and the horse and nature. It’s this kind of pull and push, and I think there’s poetry at the centre of it all.”

ACM: How did you approach the collection?

SM: “It’s really just trying to get us all to connect and remember the reality that’s going on around us. And hopefully look really fucking great at the same time. We took the patterns of horse’s blankets. And there are very direct relationships: my mum’s photography and my sister’s photography. But I guess the main relationship is that they’re alive and the clothes haven’t killed anything. There’s a celebration of everyone living in harmony together.”

ACM: How are beliefs reflected in the collection?

SM: “This season, there’s an exclusive with MIRUM, which is a bio-based technology using rubber that’s completely biodegradable. No plastic. There were two bags with that because it’s such a new exclusive technology. We had the first Mylo mushroom mycelium bag in white. It might not seem that exciting, but actually in science it’s a big deal. We have the regenerative cotton again, in shirting this time, in very limited quantities for limited edition pieces. We had grape leather again, which comes from waste from the wine industry, and apple this season – the mock-croc Frayme bag was made out of apples. So, every time you’re eating an apple, you’re eating a handbag.”

ACM: How did Jean-François Pignon react to your idea?

SM: “He kept telling me in rehearsals, ‘Stella, you are a little bit crazy.’ With deep meaning in his eyes.”

Valentino’s Black Tie A/W´23 Show

At the Valentino autumn/winter 2023 show in Paris, Pierpaolo Piccioli welcomed guests to a “black tie” event like no other, writes Anders Christian Madsen. Here, five things to know about the collection.

The invitation said black tie

We were back in Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild for this season’s Valentino show. Pierpaolo Piccioli chose the venue where he presented his most momentous haute couture shows to make a point: “I want to subvert from the inside,” he said during a preview in Place Vendôme. Under the heavenly ceilings of the stately palais, he welcomed guests to a “black tie” event like no other. It wasn’t a dress code but a codification, as the show notes pointed out. “I think people think it’s going to be an evening collection, but it’s actually the literal meaning of black tie,” Piccioli explained. “I wanted to work on the social meanings you give to things. It’s about the meaning of the tie, which is about power and masculinity. If you give this symbol to everyone, you take away the social meaning.”

Every look had a shirt collar and tie

All 73 looks in Piccioli’s collection were built around a collar and tie element, from suits to dresses and even ballgowns. And while they were styled on a young and diverse cast of models, it wasn’t a reflection of teen riot or punk mentality – even if a mohawk did grace the runway. It was the idea of a new generation approaching classic wardrobe tropes blissfully unaware of their inherited conventional values. Quite literally: a new approach to dressing. “Recently, my daughter went into my wardrobe and wore a suit and a tie,” Piccioli said, referring to 17-year-old Stella. “I asked her why. She said, ‘It’s new for me.’ I said, why do you like it? She said, ‘I don’t know.’ It was just a choice. Not because of punk or disruption. She never saw me wearing a tie. I always wear this,” he said, pulling at his hoodie.

It was kind of New Romantics

Observing his teenage daughter’s liberated approach to dress codes that his own generation arguably associates with a kind of constricted uniformity, Piccioli was inspired to propose a new uniform of freedom. He dresses every gender in collars, ties, mini-skirts, boots and make-up. Along the way, long monochromatic coats, checkerboard motifs and creepers crept their way in, evoking a kind of New Romantics silhouette. In a season of coat wars – where every house has made its own proposal for the perfect ankle-length overcoat in a muted tone – Piccioli upped the stakes with strong contenders in black, ivory and leather, the perfect simplicity of which shot through the sea of plume and studs and sequins. Great outerwear isn’t new territory for Valentino, but something the house could start claiming in a big way.

New elegance is actually new

Much has been said about this season’s return to elegance: a more sophisticated, tailored, formal way of dressing amid a social and political climate that doesn’t lend itself to carelessness. For Piccioli, “returning” was the wrong word. “I don’t think it’s elegance as in the formal idea of elegance. I think, after years of streetwear, this is new,” he said, gesturing at his black ties. “It’s kind of cooler. I don’t think it’s the idea of going back to elegant and classic, because if you go back to elegance as it was, it’s just old. Sometimes when you’re not certain about your future, you go back to your past. But that’s not a step forward. A step forward is when you face tradition with a new approach.” In words some of us have often ascribed to Piccioli’s practice at Valentino overall, it’s about keeping the codes but changing the values.

Formality still has a place in the world

“I always think of the old Valentino as lifestyle and my Valentino as community,” Piccioli reflected. “You kind of see a community of young kids who can wear this uniform in order to be more free.” We may not care about dress codes anymore – or at least what they represented – but as illustrated in collections around the fashion landscape this season, there’s still something to be said for observing a certain put-togetherness in the way we dress and approach the world. It’s not necessarily about fitting in, but about putting your best foot forward. As Piccioli demonstrated, formality doesn’t have to make us square.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Alexander McQueen’s Anatomical Wonder A/W´23 Show

Naomi Campbell opened Alexander McQueen's triumphant return to Paris, a collection which drew on its ‘90s heritage, anatomical precision and a dark elegance. Anders Christian Madsen reports.

It was a darker take on Alexander McQueen

Harder, better, faster, stronger. This season, Sarah Burton made a triumphant return to Paris with an Alexander McQueen collection that blew the socks off the City of Lights. In one of her – if not the – most ravishing orchestrations of her creative directorship, she delved into the darker, more dangerous side to the brand’s genetics and delivered a proposal founded in the most deliciously evil cut-glass tailoring, insane knitwear woven like mutated human anatomy, and terrifyingly beautiful extra-terrestrial dresses that, quite literally, gave you out-of-body experiences.

It was inspired by anatomy

Burton drew on ideas of anatomy: of clothing, of bodies, and of Alexander McQueen itself. “We’re almost back at the beginning of McQueen where it started,” she said backstage. “Savile Row: revisiting the structuring of garments on the body and how you construct tailoring, and then tearing it apart and subverting it and turning it upside-down on its head.” They were magical words for tailoring freaks (there are a lot of us this season) that lived up to the fantasy: coats, razor-sharp and long and formidable; suits, squared and sliced and dismembered. Trousers draped over the soles of pointed stilettos tightened intensely with every step the model took.

It incorporated orchids

An investigation into Leonardo da Vinci’s studies of the human anatomy fuelled Burton’s submersion into the world of guts and bones. Beautifully, she mirrored that rather gruesome image in the form language of orchids. “Muscular and fragile,” she called them, like the shared dichotomies of the women and men on her runway. They took female form in shielding tailored bustiers and dominatrix leather coats, while male models wore Victorian man girdles over white shirts with dramatically cut trousers. “Tailoring dissected, bodies dissected: proportion,” as Burton summed it up.

It referenced ‘90s Alexander McQueen

Presented in a circular tent in front of Les Invalides – its dome hovering over proceedings – models spiralled their way around rings of runways to the soundtrack from Alexander McQueen’s autumn/winter 1998 show, Ring of Fire, played backwards. In every way, the show felt like a reconnection to the more sinister beauty found in the house’s archives. For Burton, who was there through it all, it’s as much within her creative ownership as it was Lee McQueen’s, and it was thrilling to see that atmosphere brought back to life through her lens.

It captured the season's taste for elegance

“Going back to where things began makes you feel quite grounded. You can look at those pieces and they’re still incredibly relevant and beautiful. There’s a longevity to them. They’re amazing pieces,” Burton said of the archival garments that had informed the collection. Their influence created a collection that nailed the desire for elegant reduction and simplified formality that has defined the season. “It feels nice to feel quite smart. With the times we live in, you want to feel quite formal and quite together, I suppose. I think it’s important to be grounded when the world is in such chaos,” Burton said. “And maybe, if it’s upside-down, it’s because the world is upside-down.”

Comme Des Garçons’ “Return To The Source” A/W´23 Show

“A feeling of wanting to go back to the starting point,” wrote Rei Kawakubo in the collection notes which accompanied the Comme Des Garçons autumn/winter 2023 show in Paris. Anders Christian Madsen reports on the self-reflective and technique focused offering.

The show was titled Return to the Source

Under the stained-glass windows of the American Cathedral on Avenue Georg V, Rei Kawakubo presented a Comme des Garçons collection titled Return to the Source. With aisle-like grace, models carried her mastodon creations in small processions in groups of four or two, illuminated by follow-lights. Every time a set of models exited the circular podium, the music abruptly stopped – a signature Comme des Garçons move – and a new track came on. The scores ranged from classical to pop and punk, as if someone had searched the annals of music history and played you random snippets from here and there. It placed the collection in a historical light: a sense of memory, nostalgia and occasional wistfulness.

It was about going back to the starting point

You could interpret the name Kawakubo gave the collection as an illustrative title – “a return to the source” – or indeed as a request: “Return to the source!” If you chose to go down the former path, her proposition emerged in a decidedly technical light. “A feeling of wanting to go back to the starting point,” she wrote in her show notes. “Working with free patterns. Using basic materials.” Her formidable structures were composed from lining materials, padding and scraps – the structural foundations of a dressmaker’s workshop – while the silhouettes played on exaggerations of the basic shapes of clothes, like a massive t-shirt or a huge dress with an equally huge oval midcentury collar.

It put the clothes in focus

If you chose to interpret the collection title as a request – “Return to the source!” – Kawakubo’s proposal felt like the wise comment of one of the longest-serving designers in the industry. You could see it as reaction to a fashion landscape that sometimes gets carried away, where smoke and mirrors often distract and detract from the clothes themselves, while gimmicks on the runway – especially of the technological kind – have become the big thing. As her shows demonstrate, Kawakubo doesn’t shy away from a theatrical moment, but the product – fantastical as it may be – is always in focus. The source, if you will, is the star of the show.

It felt reflective

If Kawakubo was feeling wistful, there were signs in the circular embellishments that adorned some of her gargantuan looks. They evoked the holes that embodied her Destroy collection from 1982 – a technique she originally called “lace” – which, as a fashion moment, marked a transition from the punk of the ‘70s into the post-punk era of the ‘80s to which Kawakubo’s aesthetic would help form. On the same day as Andreas Kronthaler presented his first show for Vivienne Westwood after the death of the queen of punk in December 2022, you couldn’t help but wonder if the loss of the queen of punk had affected Kawakubo, too.

It came with hats by Valeriane Venance

Whether it was reflective or nostalgic, the Comme des Garçons show never felt sad. On the contrary, the twosome-ness represented by the models who walked in pairs, and the generally upbeat soundtrack made for a Kawakubo show of the optimistic kind. That feeling was amplified by the exuberant headpieces created by the artist Valeriane Venance,that crowned every look, constructed from scraps of paper and fabric, from multi-coloured pipe cleaners (talk about returning to the source!) and fabric flowers. Bolstered by Kawakubo’s almost papal robes with big, furry Renaissance hoods, they had a priestliness about them. You’d want to listen to a person wearing a hat like that,

Hermès’ Hair-Inspired A/W´23 Show

At the La Garde Républicaine in Paris, the French maison presented a show inspired by the sensuality of hair. Here, Anders Christian Madsen reports on everything you need to know for autumn/winter 2023.

It was inspired by hair

It was a hair-raising experience: newly-bobbed Nadège Vanhee-Cybulksi decked out her show venue at La Garde Républicaine in a dark orange that initially evoked the signature shade of Hermès but, on closer inspection, looked more like the copper colour of her own trademark locks. “It was about hair. The sensuality of hair. The different hair of women: red hair, blonde Venetians, jaded black. I wanted to play with the complexity of that symbolism and I wanted to take something so trivial and work it in a structural way,” she said after the show.

Colours and techniques were based on hair

“Hair is about identity. It’s a strong feminine attribute. In history, hair was about power, seduction and magic. I wanted to work with that level of symbolism,” Vanhee-Cybulski said, explaining her unusual source of inspiration. (She wasn’t alone in her choice of material this season. The day before her show, Victoria Beckham proposed tops and dresses woven out of acrylic extensions. Maybe there’s a trend forming.) She based her colour palette on traditional hues of hair, and crafted entire bucket bags out of horse hair.

Garments evoked the draping of hair

“I sent some hair to different fashion mills for them to replicate the fibre in the cashmere. In the draping, I really wanted to think about how you twist your hair and break it and wear it,” Vanhee-Cybulski explained. She illustrated it in the braiding of sweaters, in the textures of shearling coats, and in the way scarves and knitted cardigans were draped over the body the way long hair tends to envelop its owner. Metal-threaded silk pieces had the sheen of hair, and – in the light of Hermès – kind of evoked a horse’s pelt as well.

It captured the groundedness of the season

At the root of Vanhee-Cybulski’s proposal was a sentiment of introversion, the way we like to hide under our hair. “A solidity: being centred,” she said. “This collection is more introverted than the last one. In the winter, you want to be wrapped up in your coat.” Her message echoed a season epitomised by a sense of reduction, of dressiness, formality and elegance. You don’t have to read many newspapers at the moment to understand the psychology of that human impulse.

It was rich on new accessories

Vanhee-Cybulski matched her hair hues to her accessories: delectable knee-high suede boots with square toes, a softened Birkin with a new harness detail, oversized sack bags, and bucket bags both in horse hair and leather. She finished off the look with satin riding caps. “It’s like a walk in the forest,” she said. “A connection with nature.”

Andreas Kronthaler’s A/W´23 Tribute Show to Vivienne Westwood

Andreas Kronthaler, Dame Vivienne Westwood's longtime partner in life and work dedicated his autumn/winter 2023 show in Paris to the high priestess of punk, who passed away at age 81 in December 2022. Anders Christian Madsen reports.

Dame Vivienne Westwood’s granddaughter closed the show

When Cora Corré, the granddaughter of Dame Vivienne Westwood, strode through the hyper-gilded salons of Hôtel de la Marine as the bride in Andreas Kronthaler’s first show since the designer’s death, it was hard the hold back the tears. She was dressed in her grandmother’s spirit: a skimpy white lace romper with a busty baroque neckline and sky-high platform boots – the irreverent, sexy, beautiful bride of punk dreams. Immaculately executed, Kronthaler’s show cemented the legacy of Dame Vivienne as a style that transcends fashion: an institution, an aesthetic, and most of all a movement; a visual ethos of philosophy and activism that will forever appeal – and be kept alive – by the community she created.

It was the first show without Vivienne Westwood

“It is tough, to be honest. There are moments when some things trigger something and it really hits you,” a solemn Kronthaler said backstage before the show, surrounded by friends of the house hugging and bursting into tears. “But being busy is really helpful. It’s like breathing, isn’t it? It comes in waves. I worked and worked and worked. I worked through it. Even last year. I spent as much time with her as…” he paused. “I haven’t travelled for one and a half years. Maybe I can get back into it.” After his wife’s death on 29 December 2022 at 81, following a period of illness, Kronthaler’s team went to work on her memorial – beautifully organised in Southwark Cathedral on February 16th – while he got to work on a collection he called a tribute.

It imagined the tribe of Vivienne Westwood

“I see it as very personal to her,” Kronthaler said of the collection. He named it after Dame Vivienne’s birthplace of Tintwistle in Cheshire and based it on a vision she had once told him about. “She imagined these people from the north coming down to London and changing the status quo; taking over. They would wear clothes to match that big important occasion.” On the backdrop of Hôtel de la Marine’s pre-Revolution gilded salons, Kronthaler sent out his clan of revolutionaries, dressed like futuristic Anglo-Saxon tribespeople in kilts and checks and tracksuits and gingham and jockstraps and thigh high boots and cascading cocktail dresses and bourgeois bows and Toile de Jouy that looked like cave paintings. It was magnificent. A skirt gesturally pulled up at the front paid tribute to “the masturbation skirt” Dame Vivienne and Kronthaler invented together.

Much of it was made from Dame Vivienne’s antique fabrics

In his poetic self-penned show notes, which were so emotional they’re hard quote, Kronthaler wrote how he had used some of the 17th century fabrics he and Dame Vivienne collected together. “I hope you don’t mind,” he noted. “Everything is really leftovers,” he said backstage. “I had a couple of lengths and got it out of the wardrobe and said, that’s it. I’m going to use it up now. And give it a new lease of life or whatever you call it.” Infused into garments that could have been haute couture, the antique fabrics imbued the collection with soul – not just that of the history they’d seen, but of the shared memories of Kronthaler and Dame Vivienne that lived within them. The notion was reinforced by a classical soundtrack, interrupted – in true Westwood style – by AC/DC’s T.N.T.

It marked a new chapter for Andreas Kronthaler

Because Dame Vivienne had already renamed her Paris line from Gold Label to Kronthaler’s name, the collection felt like a natural progression of his visual identity, albeit a little more polished and a little more couture. Kronthaler said she had wanted him to work on her eponymous London line after her death, but that he wants to put it on a different platform. “I think it needs its own space and I think it will have to be shown in London, at home. I don’t think it needs to be connected with fashion week, either.” Speaking of platforms, Kronthaler finished his show notes with a special request of Dame Vivienne’s: “You once said to me that you can take everything away, just leave me my platform shoes because one can’t do without them. Maybe the most important thing you ever taught me was to put the woman on a pedestal.”

Vivienne Westwood’s Granddaughter Cora Corré Plays The Bride In Tribute To The Late Designer

There was an outpouring of love from the fashion industry following the death of Vivienne Westwood in December at the age of 81. Fittingly, her memory was honoured at Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood’s autumn/winter 2023 show in Paris today, with the late designer’s granddaughter, Cora Corré, closing the show as bride.

Corré – the daughter of Joseph Corré and Serena Rees – took to the catwalk in a corseted lace minidress, teamed with patterned white platform boots and clips in her hair, before returning with Kronthaler, Westwood’s husband of nearly 30 years, for his bow. Corré and Westwood enjoyed a close relationship, with Corré walking in a number of the designer’s shows, and Vivienne calling her up on stage at the end of the autumn/winter 2022 presentation last March.

During Westwood’s memorial service at Southwark Cathedral in February, attended by the great and the good of British fashion, Corré paid tribute to her grandmother, explaining that it was difficult to find the words to describe the true impact that the late designer had. “We can only really touch on the characteristics of the phenomenon that is Vivienne Westwood,” she said. “A grandmother, a mother, a sister, a friend, a teacher, an artist, a designer – it will never be enough.”

Corré will no doubt be determined to continue the remarkable legacy of her grandmother via The Vivienne Foundation, which was set up by Westwood, her sons and her granddaughter in late 2022 to create change across four key pillars: Climate Change, Stop War, Defend Human Rights, and Protest Capitalism.

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Giambattista Valli’s Joséphine Bonaparte-Inspired A/W´23 Show

The independent spirit of Joséphine Bonaparte, 19thcentury Empress of France, inspired Giambattista Valli’s eclectic and uninhibited autumn/winter 2023 collection. Anders Christian Madsen reports.

It was inspired by Joséphine de Beauharnais

Joséphine de Beauharnais – better known as Joséphine Bonaparte – was the wife of Napoleon, Empress of France, and the muse for Giambattista Valli’s collection presented in the Musée d’Art Moderne. “I like her free way of living her life in a very independent way,” Valli said before the show. “She was empress for five years – not even – but she was the leader of her life. It’s a historical moment that’s very short but very powerful. Everything changed.”

It was all about freedom

Valli interpreted his royal muse in a certain independence of spirit: an eclectic collection, which freely morphed in and out between street-centric (and eccentric) daywear and glamorous eveningwear. “There was a new style where the body was freed,” he said of the era de Beauharnais characterised. “Everything was lighter, it was more uninhibited.” He translated the feeling in a soft, modern silhouette, expressed in dresses that were actually jumpsuits and plenty of plumed jeans and fluid skirts and flares.

It was a conversation between cultures

For Valli, a Roman in Paris, the mixing of cultures has always been an ethos. This time, he drew on the Greek-Roman obsessions of the early 19th century. “It’s something that’s interesting for me because it’s part of my culture, too,” he said. Going by the fascinations of the time, he evoked the grammar of neo-classicism in the lines of dresses, while mimicking the era’s fascination with Asian craftsmanship, micro-mosaics, and formidable jewellery in his surface decoration and prints.

Some looks were styled on male models

The freedom of expression Valli detected in de Beauharnais inspired him to expand his brand into menswear – or perhaps just “wear”, for as he said: “People say, ‘He took from her wardrobe, she took from his.’ But it doesn’t belong to anyone. It’s just pieces. You can wear them and interpret them. Sharing is caring.” The pieces he showed on male physiques manifested in a monastic tweed coat, an oversized lurex-woven blouse, and a Rudolf Nureyev-inspired knitted jumpsuit.

Valli mirrored de Beauharnais in his modern customer

“It’s a research into the women I like to see now – the women who inspire me today,” Valli said, drawing a parallel between de Beauharnais’s ahead-of-her-time character and the women he dresses today. “I like the power of these women,” he smiled.

Loewe’s Transiency-Inspired A/W´23 Show

From dresses printed with blurry motifs of antique garments, to cardigans that were actually stickers, Jonathan Anderson packed his autumn/winter 2023 Loewe collection with illusions. Anders Christian Madsen reports from Paris Fashion Week.

It took place in Chateau de Vincennes

It was a typical fashion moment: after making the 45-minute drive to Chateau de Vincennes on the outskirts of Paris, the Loewe show took place in an isolated white box erected in its courtyard – not a turret in sight. “I like the idea that when guests arrive, you deal with the history. You have this history of a brand and suddenly you’re confronted by the white box,” Jonathan Anderson said after a show that dealt with themes of transiency and surrealism. Much of it was inspired by how differently live audiences experience a fashion show versus those watching online. As live guests, we knew we were in a castle. The digital audience would never have known.

It was packed with illusions

Anderson’s study of the ways we experience and consume fashion unfolded in several ways. Dresses inspired by the work of Gerhard Richter featured blurry motifs that, when seen from afar, would suggest a clarity to be found when viewed up close. But it was an illusion. “It’s the idea of a dress becoming out of focus. Fashion can become a bit of blur sometimes,” he said. Other dresses were printed with scans of antique garments that would have looked like an optical illusion from afar. Jumpers and trousers entirely made of feathers touched on the same idea. “My whole thing is the idea of looking at realities. In the room it looks like one thing, but we have an audience online that sees it in a different way,” Anderson explained.

It featured an installation by the Italian artist Lara Favaretto

Just as the online experience of watching a show can be deceiving, a garment you’ve seen on a screen inevitably reveals a slightly different truth when it arrives in the post. They’re somehow transient experiences. With that in mind, Anderson invited the Italian artist Lara Favaretto to create a set of confetti boxes inside his white cube. “They’re not stuck together, they’re just blocks of confetti that she stamps into a shape,” he said. “Then she removes the mould. I like the idea that things are transient: it’s a cube in the beginning but then starts to decay,” he said. It illustrated the process we continuously go through in fashion – the ephemeral nature of seasons and trends, and, you might say, the fashion system overall.

The knitwear was actually stickers

“Now that we consume imagery so quickly – and we’re kind of over shows before they’re even in store – my biggest obsession is how to make collections that are not for right now, but for in six months,” Anderson said. “I like the idea that the cardigan online will look like the cardigan, but in store, you will buy it as a sticker.” He realised that idea in cardigans that had been printed out on adhesive paper and stuck to the models’ bodies. “At Loewe, we always want to experiment with different things, but this one was a bit more purist. Reduction: simplifying the silhouette but at the same time still pushing the boundaries in terms of what can be done with clothing,” he said.

It was all about the coats

Anderson’s purist approach was typically abstract, but it also came with some simple proposals that were attractive in a more grounded way: handsome drop-shouldered leather coats, and an eroded oversized caban and brown crystal-encrusted coat that captured the purified elegance that’s been dominating the season. “There were moments in the show where I wanted this idea that she kind of breaks into a sensuality of the wardrobe, and moments where it becomes more withdrawn,” he said. He expressed the latter mood in a series of garments that evoked gestures like a child wrapping themselves in a blanket, or the draping of fabric over a nail on a door – transient things fixed in time. In fashion, as in life, nothing is as it seems.