Spring/Summer 2015 Marc Jacobs

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A BUBBLE GUM pink suburban house sits on pink gravel in the Park Lane Armoury. The audience are seated on banks of shagpile pink carpeted benches and each given a pair of Beats by Dr Dre headphones to wear for the show. Through the headphones a disembodied voice intones instructions: “Bring out the crooked smile and the backpack”; “Go into the house and take a shower”.

Is he talking to the Marc Jacobs army parading around the exterior of the house in military serge with their mandarin-collared jackets and oversized buttons? Is he controlling the girls with their shaggy black bobs and their satin-belted army style? Who is he?

Fashion shows as theatre is something Jacobs is a master of and possibly it distracts from seeing the clothes for what they are. Certainly some of the details like the huge resin buttons, the macramé lace inserts, the rich luxury of the wool and linen were of the highest quality. It didn’t look much like a spring/summer collection but the glitter-strapped sliders will no doubt be on everyone’s wish list any day now.

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Spring/Summer 2015 Giorgio Armani

THE money shot at this morning’s Giorgio Armani show was the finale look: a shimmering, shining bejewelled being complete with a bob of beads. She encapsulated the glamour of Armani and the designer’s inspiration this season: the sea, the sand and the landscapes they shape.

He started proceedings with a short film directed by the Oscar-winning Paolo Sorrentino and in it, we saw a mystery couple lying on the beach, hand in hand, with only rope to protect their modesty. Had they come from the deep blue sea? Were they from this world of Armani that Sorrentino was introducing? Were they simply on a nice beach day out?

Regardless, when we did get into that Armani water world, the designer took his theme and ran with it – to create multiple dresses that riffed on jellyfish proportions, shapes and movement. Pronounced short skirts splayed over sheer trousers (still an idea that might need some time to catch on) to perfectly replicate the entity in clothes. Fringes trailed from long skirts to reincarnate fish tails and scales and trousers came with pleats that looked like sand ripples – just as though the tide had come in.

The trousers here were mostly cropped and tapered, jackets languid and loose – a series of white suits were particularly beautiful – and shoes flat throughout. This style note helped to keep the collection feeling fresh and youthful too – those glistening dresses somehow seeming less obvious as obligatory eveningwear.

Armani isn’t the only designer diving deep this season – Philipp Plein made his own splash in Milan last night while back in London Ryan Lo took the plunge in his own irreverent way.

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Spring/Summer 2015 Christian Dior

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.

Move over normcore, Raf’s ignited a renaissance.

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Spring/Summer 2015 Giambattista Valli

GIAMBATTISTA VALLI’s client does not have a day life, or if she does he has no interest in clothing her for it in couture. He’s quite a pragmatic guy and he’s probably fine with her wearing a T-shirt and J Brand jeans during the day – possibly with one of his Moncler coats – but at night she’s all his.

His show today was womanly and masterful, sticking in general to the shapes that he favours – a shell top, a swollen-bellied skirt, a full length coat to which he added a high embroidered cummerbund-style waist.

Frills were everywhere, often defining the shoulders and sleeves, and motifs from the natural world were there in many of his gowns – a tree of life jacquard, an iridescent rose print, silk embroidered flowers and embroidered corsets of petals.

It appeared to be less aimed at the nightclub-dancing social butterfly he is often associated with, but then they like him have grown up together.

His sugar almond finales have become a kind of tradition in their feminine grandeur and this one didn’t disappoint.