Spring/Summer 2016 Gucci

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For his second ready-to-wear collection at Gucci, Alessandro Michele (who took over from Frida Giannini at the beginning of this year), presented a wealth of ideas that firmly and strongly built on what he started to show us his intentions were last season.

But where those had a slight softly-softly approach, this time the ideas came with gusto, staunchly setting out to follow up and consolidate what he started and take it somewhere even better. You know this is going to be one very desirable collection and one that will have significant impact on the season ahead.

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It was his blend of geek-chic still but with solid Gucci accessory references and everything was amped up – from colour to decoration, frills and glitter, shine, sequins and embroidery which dazzled down sheer column flounced dresses or climbed and wound round the backs of those sheer pussy-bow blouses he so managed to put on the map for autumn/winter 2015 (he’s the reason you have one, or are soon to, in your wardrobe).

The house’s signature red and green was used to strong effect, as were its GGs that featured on backless shoes – in fact the accessories offering, what with its brooches and pearl-punched shoes, shimmering shades and more – was a magpie’s dream, expensive vintage. Everyone will want a piece of it – once it becomes too hot to wear their fuzzy Gucci slippers from last season, of course (there were a lot of these gracing the front row).

The show notes described a “treasure chest of aesthetic references”, which was entirely apt. It was a continuation of that studious Seventies sensibility, this time overlaid with a disco effect and the beret proves still to be the Gucci girl’s best friend. The Alessandro effect looks set to stay.

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Spring/Summer 2015 Valentino Couture

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Valentino’s Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli were inspired by love in its purest form for their spring/summer 2015 couture show – and took us on a journey through time exploring this idea.

The collection danced between the modern – with poems appliquéd onto dresses in “pure elemental colours” – and the historical in the form of a sea-foam-billowing velvet dress with a ruffled chiffon collar.

And this is a combination that has very much become the language of the house. The duo manage confidently to walk the delicate line between fantasy and reality, their excellent use of artisan technique never more apparent than at couture when you can feel the handwork in the embroidery just at a glance.

And among this all came standout pieces in the shape of sheepskin refashioned as a corset and skirt ensemble, and a red velvet dress adorned with embroidered angel wings.

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Spring/Summer 2015 Simone Rocha

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Simone Rocha must be the most romantic designer working today. The most, because she doesn’t interpret romance as surface prettiness; she evinces a real disdain for the lazy storytelling of rococo frills or wispy lengths of chiffon. Rocha gets at the emotional life of romance, its skipping heartbeat. This season, with a tip of the hat to Pina Bausch, and to Wong Kar-wai’s Hong Kong, she conjured the ways love can make you feel sideways and see-through, or like a floral bouquet, overripe, reaching out to be touched. Love making you feel languorous, impatient, and dark, dark, dark—as though that throb of constant longing must be so obvious it’s scribbled over you, or growing off of you, like moss. In its best passages, this strong show expressed the torch song tawdriness of romance. For god’s sake, there was even marabou.

Fabrication was key here. You could even say it was the central focus of this collection. Rocha has always been ambitious with her textiles, but what felt new this season was the sensitivity and specificity with which she deployed them: a light touch of embroidery on pink mesh, the graphic counterpoint of floral embellishment on a sheer white sheath, that lurid marabou snaking around a dress of silvery brocade. Black or white cloque introduced a tone of reserve, its tactility serving less as an invitation to be touched than as a kind of shell. Love can make you hard and aloof, too. Rocha’s genuinely weird looks merging nude mesh and white cloque seemed suggestive of the schizophrenia of romance—the vulnerability and fear of same. We are tender. We grow walls.

Those pieces will prove challenging at retail. Not so the breakthrough looks here: Rocha forged new ground with the gaudy red floral in the collection. This was her first significant use of print, and she entered it into her aesthetic vocabulary with real aplomb, making it three-dimensional via appliqué. The simple red floral dress appliquéd all along the hem and down either side was the standout look of the show. It made your heart skip a beat. It made you fall—at least a little—in love.

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Spring/Summer 2015 Dolce & Gabbana

 DOMENICO DOLCE and Stefano Gabbana cited the Spanish influence on Sicily between 1516 and 1713 as their starting point for this finale show of a Milan Fashion Week. It was certainly a send-off – these boys have the theatre of putting on their heartfelt, ode to Sicily, ode to Italy, shows down to a fine art.

And so, too, do they when it comes to their clothes – this another bejewelled, lace smothered, embroidered and floral adorned collection that took their stock sensibility (you can spot one of their dresses a mile off) and transposed it with a Spanish theme.

So the colour palette centred around black, white and red for lots of lace dresses (which we know they do so well) and carnation-covered ponchos, fringing swaying away; matador braid-embroidered suits and ornate trophy belts; polkadot flamenco skirts and dresses; headscarves and carnations worn in hair slicked back into severe buns.

It was all very beautiful – it’s hard not to like lace, gems and flowers when they’re all executed in one mass fell swoop like this but it’d be nice to see them develop away from purely referential themes – albeit they do them very well.

To end came the signature Dolce finale – a parade of girls in crisp white shirts, red high-waisted shorts and ballet flats. It was, as always, a sight to behold.

To shop more Dolce & Gabbana visit: www.dolcegabbana.com or click below to shop the Spring/Summer 2015 Dolce & Gabbana collection: