Different families of garments melded into one. Hand knit jumpers burst with exuberant capes of chiffon frills, denim jackets met tuxedos and parkas blended with tailored macs. Abe talked of using garment families like Lego blocks, mixing them all up and putting them together to create something new. It made for some interesting asymmetries particularly on the outerwear, with coats swelling with quilted volumes on one side but cut close to the body on the other - the whole look cinched with a skate-inspired shoelace belt. Some outfits even came with mis-matched shoes. This was outfit gymnastics taken to Olympian heights as Abe, layered, contorted and blended with increasing audacity. She also took the opportunity to broaden Sacai’s denim offer with oversize jackets worn inside-out so the blanket lining was on show. The boy-cut, dark denim jeans slit at the knees were the most straightforward pieces on the runway. Despite the multi-layered, multi-dimensional, hybrid constructions, Abe, who began her career at Comme des Garçons said her aim was to create “clothes with an ‘undone’ attitude.”
Bustiers and negligees were embellished onto done-up lace and velvet tops, quite literally pushing the old underwear-as-outerwear chestnut. And with great results. “Anything forced at Stella McCartney feels wrong, which is why everything here has an appeal to you as a human,” the designer noted, never one for self-efficacy. The show marked the debut of her excellent menswear on the runway, a corner of fashion that comes natural to McCartney, who trained on Savile Row and has always imbued her womenswear with heritage menswear codes.
Those men’s looks - an opulent herringbone coat, a roomy check blazer - established a clear line to the women’s tailoring in the collection. But it also ignited thoughts of the times we live in, and that contrast between the sexes, which suddenly feels more novel than ever. “It is really interesting times - and it’s fascinating - but we’re trying to do it in a way that still feels effortless and comfortable. We want to celebrate the relationship between men and women and embrace it,” McCartney said. Rather than playing down the debate of our gender-related differences she put it in neon lights, devoting half of her collection to deshabillé dressing - the undone lingerie elements, the J.H. Lynch paintings of scantily clad voluptuous women transferred to garments and overlaid with tulle - and the other half to the values of menswear.
Staged around a fake hill of snow tagged in graffiti with the humanitarian slogans he loves, there was a clarity and confidence to the collection, which outshone the need for the new. Because contrary to expectations, Gvasalia hasn’t made his time at Balenciaga about seasonal reinvention. Now a teetotal fresh lemon tea drinker, who goes jogging around Swiss lakes and Parisian parks, the 37-year-old cult designer is concerned with longevity and sustainability over back-breaking hype and desperation. He is creating a signature at Balenciaga, and with that a legacy. Trademark Demna-for-Balenciaga elements now include: second-skin boots, oversized hoodies, enormous bags, magnified parkas, and heritage tailoring.
Clare Waight Keller looked to early 1980s cinema like The Hunger and the cult film Lust & Sound in West-Berlin, taking in the brutalist cityscape of the city around 1980 for that sensibility, picturing its roguish nightlife through the atmospheric lens of film noir. You could see her long-line tailoring, sharp leather coats and slithering lingerie dresses roaming the arid metallic streets of Berlin by night, like something out of the black-and-white filtered minds of Helmut Newton or Robert Mapplethorpe, Bowie and Iggy scoring that fantasy. “Sass,” was her second revelation, a characteristic native to the early 1990s club scene in New York. There, Waight Keller said, she observed a similar sense of strength (and likely mischief) to the glamazons of fashion a decade before, in quirky character girls like Chloé Sevigny and Winona Ryder, who had their clubbing cliques and moody sense of glamour.The reference lent itself perfectly to filtering in the Hubert de Givenchy elements Waight Keller reverently observes: little party dresses structured rigidly with stiff cascading ruffles, sexy fringes and big bows inspired by the archives. She added to them voluminous sculptural faux fur coats, contrasting the sleek lines of her tailoring with the exuberance reflected in her couture debut. Waight Keller’s idea of the codes the now 100-year-old couturier, who she spent time with last year, was a lot raunchier than the polite Audrey Hepburn tradition.
Designer, Julie de Libran had looked back to her own formative fashion years for inspiration and her obsession with post-punk, new wave and eighties pop music and the clothes that came with them. Describing herself as a shy young woman, she said, “this is how I found my voice and spoke: through fashion.”
De Libran had a reason for her wholehearted embrace of nostalgia. This was an anniversary collection. Fifty years ago, Sonia Rykiel opened her first boutique in Saint-Germain-de-Prés and her brand will forever be associated with an emancipated version of flirty French coquettishness. At times her laughing, joyful groups of models, in striped knit maxi dresses or little modish sequin shifts looked like they were in the girl group version of The Monkees but in fact the models were only the warm up act.
As the last one took to the runway, stage hands placed three microphones onto the catwalk. Then Bananarama walked on and began belting out their greatest hits. Add some epic confetti cannons into the mix and the atmosphere quickly turned into a concert and after party.
This March, ALEXACHUNG releases the fourth collection titled Virginia. Inspired by the Bloomsbury Group, the collection features 100 Spring appropriate pieces across ready-to-wear, jewellery and shoes, all channelling the playful effervescence synonymous with the brand.
“This season’s inspiration came from writers, painters and sculptors whose lives are filled with created works of beauty. Our muse works in her worn jeans, old t-shirts, borrowed shorts; painting, creating, travelling, loving. Pay close attention to the piping, frills, embroidery and all of the Charleston inspired prints that make up this collection”
Alexa Chung, Creative Director
Virginia is a celebration of art, craftsmanship, and self-expression. Drawing inspiration from the works of British painters Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, the sister of Virginia Woolf, the collection evokes a modernist intellectual tone. Both Bell and Grant were pivotal players in 20th Century painting and members of the infamous ‘Bloomsbury Group’, a group of artists, poets, philosophers and writers. Throughout, Chung explores Charleston, the country haven and getaway for the group.
The collection is a play between unadulterated comfort and the austere mood of the early 1900’s. True to the lifestyle of the artistic set, oversized ruffle collars, leisurely luxe jacquard pyjamas and sumptuous paisley contrast the loose smock dresses, dungarees and paint splattered denim.
Outerwear and jackets in Virginia all feel in context of the era and are pragmatic in use. Laminated cotton Raincoats in bottle green and cream for typical British days in the garden, sailor jackets in both paisley and navy wool, and the Boxy Military jacket shape harks back to a time gone by. Suits range from a Brideshead Revisited inspired relaxed cream linen two piece, to a delicate flower embroidered check – a bespoke fabric made from an original in-house design.
Dresses this season are an exploration into different silhouettes, trims and necklines. Mid-length dresses of a conservative shape are pulled into the contemporary day with the addition of a bodice with keyhole detail. A key piece is the Ruffle Collar Peasant Dress available in navy and white printed georgette and a white seersucker; these can be worn as loose and lofty or cinched in with a belt. The
Jersey tees and sweatshirts feature prints in the vein of book covers with slogans such as ‘Work of Art’, ‘Tawdry Details’, and ‘Put a Spell on You’, inspired by literature of the time.
Shoes carry the mood of formal and relaxed through cross stitch and perforated clogs, suede espadrille wedges, and comfortable ballerinas with either a flower embroidery detail or a crystal strap.
Jewellery follows the home-grown crafty feeling to echo the works of Vanessa Bell. There are playful wavy hairpins and beaded necklaces with a starfish icon in bashed metal. Brooches in two size op-tions can be pinned to lapels of the cream linen suit or used to elevate simpler looks; these are hand-made silk brooches from Italy, all individually plissée.
Virginia is an ode to the unsung heroes; writers, painters, sculptors, whose lives were and are still filled with wonder.
“I wanted to have this fragility but at the same time show happiness through the colours. The girls were raised up.” For Ackermann that’s often the case: a balance between light and dark, good and evil and all the other yin and yangs you can think of. The repetition, of course, doesn’t make his rich colouration any less beautiful. In the sea of coppers and petrol hues, shiny princely pastels and liquid black surfaces, a gleaming bronze Aran knit tied as a scarf stood out, sparkling like the most precious treasure in this Aladdin-esque cave of gold. But frayed edges and rough ruffles countered all the riches, bringing that off-kilter element to the collection that Haider Ackermann always includes.
On the typically quiet soundtrack, Lou Reed philosophised about the Vanishing Act: “It must be nice to disappear, float into a mist with a young lady on your arm, looking for a kiss.” Asked if he was feeling melancholy, the designer shrugged. “Sometimes we all want to disappear... no?”
“When I was younger I was looking a lot at the legacy and heritage of the house, but now I feel it’s all about the future,” Olivier Rousteing said, alluding to the many forms and shapes of liquefied iridescence that defined his show. “I’m really happy to do what I do. I went through so much criticism but right now I feel peaceful with who I am,” Rousteing said, echoing a statement often heard backstage at his Balmain. He framed it in some of his favourite 1980s silhouettes, scoring the affair with a camp soundtrack of 1980s evergreens such as “Heart of Glass”, “Take on Me”, and “Tainted Love”. But while Rousteing’s current sense of self-rest is lovely, this collection seemed way more forward-thinking than so.
The glass-like oily surfaces, rainbow tinsel, iridescent quilting, luscious lamés and dense sequin work were a refreshing departure from his typical tweeds and braiding. Not one that felt any less Balmain, however, especially when he filtered the multi-coloured palette of iridescence into loud solid Technicolor tones and unusual-looking xerox plisse prints towards the end of the collection. “What is my reality? A lot of people talk about my reality,” Rousteing reflected, possibly referring to his Instagram following. “You are so many different kinds of women. Balmain is inclusive. I feel like it was a strong show. Fierce and confident,” he concluded.
This season’s byword is clear: recycle / re-use. And by literally recycling this universal theme, the Faith Connexion collective undertakes a witty exploration of dress codes with a sharp sense of parody. The brand’s iconic pieces are thus reinterpreted through this new lens.
The message runs through the collection like a common thread, in the form of a red tuxedo stripe with black lettering. The band looks equally at home on an elegant flare trouser, on a blue jogger, and of course the brand’s indispensable wide-leg sequined trouser. It reprints itself on the fantastic modular linings of military parkas and work wear pieces. In printed fake fur or gold sequins, the linings are reversible, offering a view of quilted interiors printed with the message "reusable," and a space for the owner’s name. Versatility is the key, with each part detaching from the whole, allowing each wearer to compose his own garment at will.
The brand’s iconic 90’s style blazer reinvents itself as a chic jumpsuit, or turns playfully into a mini dress with a plunging back. The classic sheepskin with its oversize cut finds itself adorned with prints and shares the spotlight with red moiré micro bombers. A fantastic cape made of Swiss military tent fabric keeps its classic proportions but exudes a rocker vibe thanks to a crazy tri-color fur lining. An impeccable reversible wool coats offers a mix and match of noble materials. Spectacular ultra-oversize down jackets come fur-lined with sequined exteriors, or in Scottish classic tweed with red fur and black vinyl trim. An elegant blouse with a large lavaliere collar is reinterpreted in a sublime, shimmering technical fabric to amazing effect.
The creative tribe continues to grow, with the brand’s characteristic collaborations multiplying again this season.
Inspired by the iconic mouse, the collective has teamed up with Disney to celebrate Mickey, who will celebrate his 90th birthday this coming November, with a teaser collection of nine pieces.
Sita Abellan returns for a third capsule, with her inimitable punk spirit shining through in a black vinyl raincoat and silver jumpsuit. The Naples-based team NTMB returns as well to continue their work around denim.
Newcomer Dionysios, a visual and conceptual artist of Greek origin, constructs a story around the artist painter’s wardrobe, imagining clothes that bear witness to the creative process as well as being works of art in and of themselves. From the surrealist parka to the paint-stained jeans and the theater inspired red suede "troupe" jacket marked with gold splashes, all the pieces have a history and are part of a numbered series. And in a whimsical twist, the phone number inscribed on the denim jacket with a label promising "call for a good time" will actually be reachable!
Raw and spontaneous, the Winter 2018 collection once again celebrates the uniqueness of the individual and gives every person the opportunity to take ownership of pieces whose stories will continue to evolve with wear.