Autumn/Winter 2015-16 Giamba

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Designers often feature a mood board backstage. Sometimes you feel they’re just for show. Other times? Well, there are insights and there are insights. Giambattista Valli’s smattering of inspirational images at his Giamba show today was small but deeply significant: outsider artist Vali Myers, with her facial tattoos; a very young Nina Hagen, when she was still a pop star in East Germany; Eva Ionesco, who sued her photographer mother, Irina and notorious Parisian rake Jacques de Bascher.

Each one of them was the embodiment of a particular attitude that Valli fed into his collection. Myers’ tattoos and de Bascher’s harness, Hagen’s punkitude and Ionesco’s twisted Lolita—that was Giamba for Fall 2015. His own title for the collection was actually Instagram Lolitas, and the slight seediness of such a notion illuminated clothes that felt like an unabashed blend of sweet and decadent.

So there were sheer dresses of candy-colored flowers embroidered on organza, and there were black leather-backed tunics of mink. There were gilded jacquards that were clotted in their almost Klimt-ian density, and there were pure white lace shifts. But that shift was ensnared by a black leather harness. And it wasn’t alone in the weirdness of such a contrast. If there was a pretty dolly-bird trumpet sleeve, there was a sickly acid yellow fur. Valli described his obsession with flowers as “trippy,” but the lysergic nature of the collection scarcely stopped there. Was that a mountain landscape rendered in a micro-sequined georgette smock?

The designer’s postshow glee suggested he had a lot of fun with his latest outing. Maybe it was a relief after the intensity of haute couture. Or maybe it was because, as he said, “I just want to inspire girls. They may not be able to afford the clothes, but they can go and do the look, with the layered leggings and the face tattoos.”

And when was the last time you heard a designer say that?

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Autumn/Winter 2015-16 Dries Van Noten

IMG_8766IMG_8762If you’re going to a ball, then make Dries Van Noten your date. The designer put his casual-cool spin on fairy-tale dressing of the Cinderella kind – making tie-on splaying train skirts a must for next season. And if it’s not one of those (and they came in every eclectic incarnation – from utility style fabrications to molten and iridescent), make it a pair of cargo trousers. Note, here, they looked good with everything. Effortless has always been this designer’s forte after all.

“Anything goes,” enthused Van Noten backstage. This was once again an artisanal exploration into his easy dressing aesthetic but this time anchored within a more eveningwear-orientated domain – “couture and the casual” and “grounded glamour” were the buzzwords.

So macs became evening dresses, cinched at the waist and billowing behind; feathers and flowers fastened at the neck; brocade-rich boots were on feet. It was about layering individual garments together to incredibly rich effect – pailette-drenched arms on tops; a sandy-coloured trench atop sequin gowns beneath; velvet wide-leg trousers; shorts thrown into the mix; Scarlett O’Hara skirts.

“It’s about passionate women,” continued Van Noten backstage. By which he meant the combination of Anna Piaggi flamboyance and Jane Birkin nonchalance.

This was dressed-up dressed-down, and a beautiful collection.

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Spring/Summer 2015 Whistles

WHAT better way to cement your reputation as the working woman’s go-to brand than to stage your spring/summer 2015 fashion show in an entrance tunnel to Kings Cross tube station? The novel idea came from Whistles, who in doing so cleverly took their customer off the catwalk and put her into context: on-the-go and always looking good. The tight edit of sleeveless jumpsuits, cutout dresses, tactile knits and statement jackets in a limited colour palette of white, black, peach and the palest of blue all emanated the brand’s progressive-but-pared-back mix and will no doubt fly off the shelves when they hit the shop floor next year. A very stylish commute beckons.



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.

To shop Spring/Summer 2015 Giorgio Armani click below: