One of the great pleasures of writing about fashion is that designers introduce you to such a wide variety of references—cultural, historical, anthropological. And one of the pleasures of being on the Karen Walker beat is that her seasonal references are pretty much always something you’re glad to know about, if you didn’t before. This time out, for instance, she was channeling the work of photographer Valerie Finnis, who captured midcentury English gardening culture. Posh biddies, at work on their lilac and rose bushes. The photos are terrific. And so was this collection. The graphic floral prints hit that exact Karen Walker sweet spot where chic meets eccentric. The dresses, tops, and jumpsuits with their whipstitched wrap belts were instantly relatable must-haves—the kind of seasonless clothes that endure in a woman’s closet. The patchwork suede pieces, with their swirling, Pucci-esque patterns, were a harder sell, but ultimately convincing. They seemed like the kind of items a girl yearns to find vintage, but never does, really.
Best of all, there were the pants. Valerie Finnis’ photographs weren’t the only thing that Walker dug out of the archive this season; as she explained after the show, her to-die-for, high-waisted, slightly flared trousers had a silhouette only marginally revamped from a collection she turned out ages and ages ago. In dark denim or weathered gray cotton, they looked like the right shape to go under pretty much anything come springtime. As one of those gardening ladies might have it, they were a perennial.
“To be desirable,” said Roland Mouret backstage before his show – that was the point of the collection. “The meaning of desire. I want women to feel like they want to steal the clothes from the hanger straight away.”
To this end – and with an imminent New York store opening – Mouret was going back to looking at what defined him. And joy and desire was what he concluded – his sculpted silhouettes here softened in colour-blocked pastels to make this a young and fresh collection that in plenty of white, primrose yellow, pink and lilac was the embodiment of spring/summer.
Bold floral appliqués blossomed on tote bags and skirts, dresses too – at the front and as little caped backs; elsewhere came hibiscus prints laser-cut into cotton mesh for jackets and splaying A-line skirts; asymmetric hems were accompanied by injections of grass green; shorts were out in strong force and cemented that youthful sensibility. It was refreshing.
It had all started in the fittings, explained Mouret. His women chiming in with the covetable buzzword and so leading him to develop the Mouret DNA which, while still obviously underpinning the collection today, took on a lighter and relaxed new note this time round. It was refreshing.
“I’m a practical person, a Virgo, so I’m always thinking about what women will live in, trying to anticipate their feelings – people will buy because they desire,” he summed up.
WAKING up in a Haider Ackermann dream must be a wonderful place to be – we stepped inside and caught a glimpse of it for the designer’s spring/summer 2015 collection.
It’s serene, and peaceful, controlled and light as air, which is exactly how the girls took to the catwalk this morning in a palette that wavered from white to pink to lilac but so gently that you would hardly tell.
Everything has a fluidity in the hands of Ackermann – the clothes appear in a perfect state of undress, belted as they are, slouched and ruched at the pocket or at the elbow. Here we got night dress styles – entirely in keeping with our dreamscape scenario – and dressing gown coats, gliding lace slips, plunge-front tuxedos, bare backs framed and exposed. Peplums were created through layers of ruffles that peaked out beneath his signature investment jackets – cinched and belted as always – and sheer chiffon sleeves slid off over hands for oversized, surreal effect.
This was one of Ackermann’s softest and most wistful collections yet but in that same breath he brought a shorter, younger silhouette and it was sharp through its focus, sexy in its subtlety.
Click below to shop Spring/Summer 2015 Haider Ackermann: