IT was a romantic walk along the beach that MaxMara had in store for us this morning. A film backdrop of waves washing in gently to shore recreated the photos taken by George Barris in 1962 of Marilyn in more or less the same situation. And so the season’s scene was set: sensual and emotive, cosy and comforting, outerwear of course being the star of the show (MaxMara is a brand all about the outerwear), but this time in bundled, swaddled and swathed fashion.
So watery winter pastels incarnated fluffy mohair coat-and-cardigan hybrids to wrap these Marilyns up all warm – literal references to those photos where the star herself takes a seaside wander, pulling her coat just so. In fact, this became quite the lesson in how to wear one’s coat seductively when winter bites. Of course, splashing waves in the background was always going to help.
Classic camel tones, sand, mint, powder pink and chilly blue; fleecy tweeds, cashmere knits, quilting – everything was soft and romantic. Even the silhouettes that were a more obvious ode to Monroe’s sassy figure (nipped-in-at-the-waist dresses, pencil skirts and bustiers) came with a softness, a layer of light teasing texture to make them less obviously austere.
Here, hoods were to hide in, sleeves were to snuggle in: it was about protective dressing, be that practically or emotionally.
Isabel Marant’s boho-band blend dipped its toe into Eighties waters today – high waists on white jeans cinching in her cable knits or reworked Bretons, rah-rah frills jiving down sleeves and skirts, single earrings to compound the point.
There were huge boyfriend-sized jackets and all the pieces she does so well and so right for her customer. It’s always youthful, it’s always that embodiment of nonchalance – it’s always that girl, it is Marant herself.
But a twist in proceedings came towards the end of the collection in a boudoir surprise: sheer white and black swingy dresses with lacing frothing down the front into frills. Surely this was a little more girly and sweet than we know from this chick?
But, wait, hang on, she can do frou too! But when that’s not her vibe, there was plenty here for stalwart fans – those who merely need a style update on the seasonal Marant staples that already inhabit their wardrobe.
Polished, industrial, sharp and serious – one can’t help but think that ever since Jason Wu took on the helm of Hugo Boss this time last year that the aesthetic has filtered out onto his own eponymous line. As we saw at the start of the week, his namesake label was less full of the flounce and frou that it once was. And Boss is about a certain precision, a heritage luxury brand. That said, among the silhouettes today there was a renewed softness – rounder shoulders, a play on proportion and panels for lithe dresses and leg-of-mutton sleeves.
Joseph Altuzarra has been taking to the New York Fashion Week schedule for five seasons now with investment from Kering behind him. And it’s serving him well – each season his aesthetic moving on and stepping up into something more refined and more luxe. This collection was an absolute case in point: flamboyant, sinuous and sexy, this was an incredibly seductive collection.
Sexy high boots, we’ll take them; pie-crust ruffles on white lace dresses that were barely dresses at all, yes please; fluting pencil skirts that splayed playfully around the knees, definitely. It was all cut beautifully and just as much as it was sassy, it came with a repressed primness – those high ruffled collars that hinted at Victoriana strictness.
Altuzarra had cited Truman Capote’s social swans and Gloria Vanderbilt as muses. “I was interested in American High Society in the Seventies and the aesthetic dialogue that it fostered in design, fashion and art,” he explained. And with this suitably fashionable and social fairytale in place, he added his own interest of eclecticism spanning the Sixties to the Eighties, as well as a dash of contemporary culture – the latter of which kept it all in wearable check, and made the use of slits, sequins and lace, velvet and devoré, and pie-crust collars all the more clever and enticing.