THERE was a certain back-to-school cool going on at today’s DKNY show – the collection full of bright blocks of colour in sweatshirt, blazer and pleated or asymmetric skirt formation. Cobalt blue, turquoise and red, it was a solid and easily wearable offering with the make-up – eyeliner drawn all around the eye – proving to be the most adventurous and intimidating element. Collars were high, hems undecided and sleeves long and pulled over wrists so that there was a feeling of transition throughout – one part schoolgirl to one part grown-up but not quite sure which yet. It made for fun and awkward charm. Pay close attention and there were bejewelled slithers on those school skirts and pleats elsewhere faded to sheer.
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.
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.
EVEN those who don’t inhabit the hyper-real realms of couture will know Giambattista Valli’s handiwork. He’s the man behind one of Amal Clooney’s wedding weekend looks and the man behind Rihanna’s pink froufrou confection, worn at the Grammy’s and which meant she could barely sit down. This is a man that knows how to make a dress – and today they came big and bulbous, taking on a floating life of their own in sweet sherbet shades and garden party paradise flowers that weaved and wound down tasselled fronts and feathered hems. Cascades of tulle made for squirty cream skirts and peplums plunged around waists, earrings serious chandeliers dangling.
There was a continuation of the long and lean silhouette that we saw among his ready-to-wear collection and there was his hallmark bubble shapes for skirts and dresses too. These were robust but beautiful forces to be reckoned with, huge bug-eyed shades to complete a contemporary and youthful look that Valli has managed to coin, albeit one that might not be all that easy to walk in (Rihanna, we assume, can testify).