CALL us impatient, but show goers often like to preempt what might come down a runway before they see it. In recent seasons from Celine, we’ve had fuzzy invitations, chipboard runways, and colour block seating. Today, it was plain white invitations and a catwalk made up of untreated porous terracotta tiles, and the seating? Glazed ceramic stools. As Anna Dello Russo pointed it, it looked like the sort of thing she might come across at her home in Puglia, southern Italy.
Aside from the sensational coats, there were flickers of summer here in Phoebe Philo’s autumn collection. There was something about the artisan crochet embroideries on the opening look and the humongous shopper bags that looked just the ticket for a day at the beach – or for that matter, on safari, if Philo’s zebra print has anything to do with it (seasons have long become blurred at the international collections, since these clothes are landing in July, and anyway, it’s always summer somewhere in the world).
Often in her repertoire, Philo explored ideas on deconstruction, coming undone; the way a tri-coloured triangle-bra silk slip dress was provocatively split in several places, streams of strapping and ties were left to fly, and sleeves peeled away at the shoulder. She continued many other signatures here, too; such as contrast overstitching, those slinky ribbed knits, which this time had built-in conical bras or cut out backs and huge belled cuffs. She even hit repeat on skate sneakers and that elasticated block-heeled sock-shoe spotted on many of the front row feet this morning.
Loosening up has been in progress at Celine for a few seasons now – being less edited, more open, softer – and although some of those impressive coats with gargantuan fur trims where pulled in tightly at the waist, there was a new freedom to Philo’s woman, and with that came expressions of individuality. The fact that some girls wore heavy daubs of painterly make up and others wore none at all; that some had their hair down, and the rest, tied back into a neat ponytail – didn’t go unnoticed. It brought authenticity and believability to the clothes. Away from the catwalk you can imagine everything hanging in Celine stores the world over. What she built with this collection was a total wardrobe, and yes, one that women will want to call their own come autumn.
How do couture-like silhouettes manifest into something essentially urban and city-ready? Ask Sacai’s Chitose Abe who this season looked to haute couture – volume, panniers and Fortuny pleats included – to stir her no-holds-barred imagination.
This collection proved that there is no end to her ambition; it takes gumption to reimagine those exaggerated volumes and ideas and rework them in heavy – often masculine – fabrics, all the while executing something elegant. An M65 parka was puffed up at the back, pannier hips and tulle padding shaped sweaters and skirts, while herringbone tweeds were elasticised to form womanly hourglass silhouettes. It was about something precious and rarefied applied to the familiar and everyday.
Her series of sweater dresses – if you can call them that, the workday term seems almost insulting – were exceptional. They comprised chunky Aran knits which were peeled away at the shoulder line to reveal crisp white shirting underneath, while flippy skirts kicked out in panels of knit and cotton.
As complicated as that all sounds, the cleverest – and most crucial – fact about these hybrids is that they’re very often the simplest of pieces to wear. Take the show-goers for example, so many of whom were touting the hits of previous seasons, from the leather-perfecto biker jackets to military and guipure lace coats, khaki bombers, floral maxi dresses, even, a sighting of a broderie anglaise full skirt.
There’s something about these designs that tug at the heartstrings.
When the talk of New York fashion week isn’t revolving around the brutal weather front, then it’s chat about newest latest happenings. That week, it had only been about one thing: the Polo Bar restaurant – Ralph Lauren’s latest opening, a cozy, dimly lit den serving the best steak in town, a stone’s throw away from the new Ralph Lauren Polo Fifth Avenue store. Woody Allen has already been, so too half of the fashion fraternity. It’s a roaring success.
What to wear there? Well, Ralph Lauren of course. In fact, any piece from his collection this morning in 50 shades of brown would fit right in to the equestrian clubhouse feel. Take ‘Truffle cashmere’ for example – it conjures good things doesn’t it? Rich, expensive-looking deliciousness, in which to pour oneself come autumn. This was a classic RL collection; from the layered knitted ensembles, reined in with a low-slung saddle leather belt, to the two-tone wool and suede ponchos, shearling coats and oatmeal flannel trousers.
Celebrity stylists would be wise to put a call in now to request that sublime black strapless gown, devastatingly beautiful in its restraint and simplicity. The woman in that dress can’t not but feel good about life.
This is exactly the sort of collection that his legions of women will shop at his Madison Avenue flagship in New York – and anywhere else in the world for that matter.
Alessandro Michele enjoyed his moment officially in the spotlight for this collection. The former head of accessories at Gucci was crowned creative director back in January after Frida Giannini, the label’s creative director for the past decade, left prematurely. This was supposed to have been her last collection for the house – but instead, in something of shock surprise, Michele had been installed in time to lay foundations for change at the menswear show. In fact he completely redid it at the last minute. And with it came a turnaround from the high octane sensibility we’re so used to seeing.
Everything about this collection was soft, youthful and had a sense of freedom: floral prints on chiffon tiered and pleated dresses; loose tousled hair with flowers gently fastened in; pussy-bow blouses; cuffs fluting from billowy blouses; lace (red, just like in the menswear collection); neck scarves; an overall folk-craft tone.
There was a distinct aristo-Englishness to it, something a little eccentric and ambiguous – this wasn’t made with a Milanese woman in mind, the kooky-cool naivety imbued with quintessential British charm. There were jaunty berets and tank-top knits, androgynous crumpled tailoring and studious specs. And it felt young too, a new audience on Michele’s agenda – one who is seduced by clothes that aren’t hard work.
It was about going back to heritage pieces, specifically those that belonged to Gucci as opposed to just having a rifle in the back of one’s wardrobe, though that idea played a part too. It was in the details – the loafers, the bags, the floral prints – and going back to that original idea of Gucci luxury. And there was a nod to that girl-boy gender blur in dressing too – something that feels important in fashion right now – especially in the way it was styled.
The show notes indulged with a paragraph about “stored-up possibilities”, “the freedom to construct new meanings” – and it was very clear from the output here that Gucci’s new chapter has begun.