She’s an expensive creature the Altuzarra woman. Just look at her in that rich tobacco suede shirtdress. Evenwhen she adopts a touch of seersucker pastel gingham, it’s done so in a lean pencil skirt suit and comes over as more pristine than picnic, because well, everything is this woman’s wardrobe is pristine: from the series of lattice leather vests and pencil skirts (meticulously bonded and grommeted together by hand and worn with nothing underneath but a monied suntan) to those silky shirt dresses with slits up to there (few could execute such slashes without proceedingsturning unsavoury).
Altuzarra is expert at dressing his woman. Those shirt dresses are a favourite of his, so too those wrap-around skirts with ribbon streams and ties, and disrupted blanket stripes on slubbed linen car coats. “Rosemary’s Baby and Barry Lyndon were the starting points for this collection,” reveals the designer. “I became interested in the idea of a sinister and undone prettiness and romance, ill-fated and doomed.”
Certainly there was a romance to his series of wafting eveningwear; wisp-thin and sail-like in volume in a manipulated ikat print, and elsewhere, slithers of black silk slip dresses were trimmed in tiny dangling seed pearls; Altuzarra said he wanted to evoke ideas in 17th century jewellery and adornment.
WOW. And in one fell swoop Raf Simons redefined what modern is. And that didn’t mean sci-fi futuristic or normcore anodyne.
What it meant was an incredible collection that continued on from where his couture show started off in July and gave us historical clothes and references like we’ve never seen them before.
“I started to think ‘What is modern?’” explained Simons in his show notes. “It was an idea of confronting what people now think is an aesthetic that is modern – it felt more modern to go to the far past, not the ‘modernised’ look of the last decade.”
And in doing so he managed to make history look new and modern look old. Never have frock coats or tapestry cuffs and turn-ups looked so appealing, relevant and real.
So he borrowed – and sweetly added a “strict” accuracy disclaimer in the notes – from the Eighteenth century onwards for a collection that somehow managed to combine the French royal court with the uniforms of pilots and astronauts, school girls and skaters and make it all cool, all utterly desirable and leaving the audience, frankly, wanting more.
Court coats in bright cerise or marigold worn with skate shorts; bar jacket dresses punctuated with poppers instead of buttons on the hip; high Edwardian collars that could so easily drift into the realms of scuba wear; vest-top dresses that revived his full skirt and top combinations from his first couture season even; languid night dresses; leather-laced jackets belted on an empire line; flashes of rich embroidery here and there and just when you least expected. This was everything and more, and on paper probably shouldn’t have made sense. Yet it did – it was a revelation.
“The challenge was to bring the attitude of contemporary reality to something very historical; bringing easiness to something that could be perceived as theatrical,” elaborated Simons. “It is the attitude that matters.”
There was drama, there was character and there was fantasy here – a collection that will appeal to Dior customers old and new (everyone’s wearing those bejewelled couture trainers of his right now). And there was tangibility.
WHAT better way to cement your reputation as the working woman’s go-to brand than to stage your spring/summer 2015 fashion show in an entrance tunnel to Kings Cross tube station? The novel idea came from Whistles, who in doing so cleverly took their customer off the catwalk and put her into context: on-the-go and always looking good. The tight edit of sleeveless jumpsuits, cutout dresses, tactile knits and statement jackets in a limited colour palette of white, black, peach and the palest of blue all emanated the brand’s progressive-but-pared-back mix and will no doubt fly off the shelves when they hit the shop floor next year. A very stylish commute beckons.
Massimo Nicosia wanted to incorporate plenty of Pringle of Scotland’s almost 200-year history into his Spring ’15 collection. He did it in a very contemporary, perhaps even futuristic way, continuing his experiments in 3-D printing, a technique he first employed (to much acclaim) for Fall. This time around, Nicosia created a nylon-powder chain mail. Assembled with panels of woven cotton and silk, it was used for airy, funky tops and a dress. “I wanted to combine the artificial and the natural,” Nicosia said of the 3-D printed looks. However, the high-tech textile wasn’t the designer’s only forward-thinking interpretation of Pringle’s signature knitwear.
Leather embellishments on a diaphanous white dress mimicked a cardigan stitch—the tactile effect was slick, and it made more than a few of the audience to do a double take during its trip down the runway. Similarly, traditional pullovers were completely reimagined; in one instance, loosely woven threads were trapped inside a mesh casing. In another, fil coupe fragments in watery hues of green and violet were patched onto a roomy organdy jumper.
Water was a primary point of reference for Nicosia this season. Using Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais and Pablo Picasso’s The Bathers as inspiration, he attempted to translate its lightness, transparency, and reflective properties into fabric. This resulted in a number of sheer silk tops with woven collars and sleeves. A few of them were covered in translucent turquoise triangles that protruded from the chest—they were meant to act as prisms. Elsewhere, silver beads were used sparingly on a honeycomb knit dress to provide just a hint of shimmer. That piece stood out for its serene simplicity.
Returning to Pringle’s heritage, Nicosia played with the idea of lingerie (the house manufactured undergarments back in the day), and turned out hyper-thin silk knit tanks and bodysuits. Pleated and leather-trimmed skirts felt a little stiff and lacked the liquidity of Nicosia’s refreshing dresses and tops, but on the whole, the designer produced an innovative—and versatile—Spring lineup that will appeal to loyal Pringle customers and beyond.
Shop the beautiful and elegant artwork of Pringle of Scotland Spring/Summer 2015 below: