Before you guffaw or immediately invalidate my ideas please take a deep breath, relax, and contemplate the history of fashion for the last 50 years. Quite a big change yes? Lots of ups and downs, some periods we'd all rather forget. Now consider the last 500 years and nothing in the last half century seem all that bad.
Alright, are you ready for what I have to say? Ok...
the 80's power look is back:
People always say the 80's are here and are never going away lamenting the continuous return of retro style, this kind of observation is akin to saying that Asian food is in is and never going away. Do they mean Thai? Do they mean Korean, Vietnamese, or Indonesian? Sushi? The spectrum of culinary opportunities across the the Pacific and Indian oceans are just as wide as the hodgepodge style dictum that made up the 80's. For every look there was a counter look, for every culture there was a counter-culture, the possibility for contemporary rejuvenation is endless. With the current vulgarity in mainstream women's fashion is it any surprise that designers are finding these particular inspirations relevant?
My personal experience with 80's fashion is limited to a few movies (Working Girl, Pretty Woman) and leftovers in my mother's wardrobe during the early 90's. I never knew the decade well enough to hold either nostalgia or resentment towards it, instead I find a romance of the future and an idea of a time that was and what could be.
images from top to bottom:
Prada, Narciso Rodriguez, Haider Ackerman, Calvin Klein, Max Mara, Alexander Wang, Jil Sander, Marc Jacobs, Bruno Pieters, Marni, Louis Vuitton, Dries Van Noten, Balenciaga, Yves St. Laurent
fall 2008 RTW from style. com
Balenciaga collections from S/S 03, S/S 04, S/S 04, A/W 03, A/W 04
What I love most about Ghesquire's S/S 08 collection for Balenciaga is the revival of his relentless, extreme, and sometimes grotesque aesthetic. Commercial demands and expectations have played a guiding hand in his recent output but certainly with the company entering the black ahead of schedule and a string of hit collections he can indulge himself if only for one season.
David Wolfe of Doneger group made a comment about Ghesquire's vision casting doubt on his consistency citing that he flip flops too greatly from season to season. I don't see it that way, Nicholas is showing his range which is important for a company that needs to market an exalted creative ideal along with revenue pumping leather handbags, shoes, and sunglasses.
collections S/S 08
I noticed that Rodarte was placed among the top 10 collections on style.com. The site isn't Vogue and does not represent an official opinion of that publication, but it can be assumed that Anna and friends approve. Rodarte has been interesting to watch every season. They came out with a bold claim on what the artistry of couture technique could do to make appealing clothes. It's a very Parisian attitude, very old world couture, and I'm sure this is why Anna is so taken with the two sisters' work.
There was a time that Courreges and Cardin would be lauded for producing the most inaccessible garments, walking sculpture and what not. It was ridiculous but it was so popular and supported by an enthralled fashion audience. An idea of something being otherworldly, beyond the earth and among the heavens. Alien and oddness taken as a merit. A first true sign of post-modernism in fashion, if I risk sounding trite. Of course it was all supported, all their costumery I mean, by their amazing craft and couture methods. Rodarte works with this otherworldly feeling but with a confectioner's touch. It's as sweet as most people can conceive. Wonderful that a potent creative force is working to show off the appeal of exquisitely made clothes. Sometimes it feels like that kind of appeal is gone is from fashion. But, for as odd as Cardin could be, it was always chic. I hope the sisters realize this soon.
There's no institution more fascinating than that of a fashion brand. Designers and the houses they design for, their own names or not, strive to create or uphold their own institution with every collection they present. How do you handle the burden of a legacy, spin it into something new, build one into something covetable, or simply maintain the potency of past grandeur?
Rei has built her company, Comme De Garcons, on the premise that fashion is a medium that can nurture and also demand a reactionary voice. She shocked the 80's and the stuffy fashion establishment of the time and this cause has been the theme of her label ever since. But since then we've seen so many alternatives come and go, it brings into question the relevance of her ant-fashion/anti-pretty rigor. For a generation that regards deconstruction, full black ensembles, and uncomfortable allusions old hat what else does she have to say? Does it go beyond a clatter of color and technique? Does it resonate beyond making something challenging and creative for the selective few that will appreciate it? I went into the CDG store in Chelsea recently while waiting for a friend at a nearbye bookfair. It's appropriately settled amongst the notorious galleries, the whole area bleeds a concious effort of art. But like the institution Chelsea has become the clothes on the racks seemed just as stagnant as the art (in all it's good intentions) across the street.
And then you have the stuffiest and most moribund institution in fashion, Yves St. Laurent.
St. Laurent quickly built his name into a juggernaut force. And as time went on his own acuteness waned. It's fair to say that St. Laurent was not at the top of his game the last 10-20 years of his career. Of course it's neither here nor there, my point is not to discredit his greatness. It has more to do with the conundrum that Stefano Pilati inherited. What is he to do? His challenge is simple but strenous, to resubmit the creative force and chic aura that the young St.Laurent triumphantly crafted, and he must sell. He's gotten a hard time with the editors, some expecting too much or simply not evaluating him on the right merits. But I find that when Pilati trusts his own instincts the most is when the nexus of his own talents and that of St. Laurent becomes so engorged and bares the most sincerity. Pilati has proven himself over and over and this most recent collection is perhaps his finest. But does it make any money? It's a "but" that stings and I'm sure one he's infinitely aware of. How does he fill the footsteps of a giant? Perhaps he can't, but he's certainly making his own.
The best clothes are the kind that can extend themselves into multiple meanings, the versatile and elastic. A reversible jacket, a skirt than can be worn as a dress, it's the ability to transform into something else. It can be very obvious like a reversible jacket or in fact subtle and far more significant. There was a black anorak in Ervell's collection that shimmered when in motion and cut in a way that's reminiscent of antique men's formal wear. Its succinct tailoring and a gather in the back gave the illusion of a tailcoat. While connoting ideas of formality or luxury it kept its appeal as a simple anorak; easy, practical, and just a hint of the contemporary. Yet, it could be worn over a tuxedo at a smart occasion and its lesser status as sportswear would be unnoticed. The garment operates between two worlds very effectively. This is the kind of sensibility found throughout Ervell's collection. His continued elevation of synthetics and sportswear gave way to refined tailoring and classic menswear icons, a binary with each sides enhancing the qualities of the other.
There are wonderful and powerful details in the clothes. Some of the collars on the shirts have loops for scarves to be pulled through and worn. A nice touch of utility for the sake of luxury. The plackets, pleats, collars, and bands, while being functional and practical were done in proportions and sewing notions that gave an allure not usually granted to mundane construction elements. These were neck bands and shirt plackets that looked marvelous simply doing their jobs. The most douty items, a check blazer full of stiff and boring connotations, remains sensual and desirable. Soft lavender denim heightened a new and bold aesthetic. The clothes move in and out of their conventions and it's up to the ambitions of the wearer to allow them to.
Ervell is keeping clear of the uber slim Slimane silhouette that was at the vanguard of fashion for some time. What he is providing is notably less affected. The outerwear moves around the body rather than intrusively clinging, tailoring that falls softly around the torso, and pants that are slim but not obnoxiously skinny. It's a look that comes off as youthful but flattering as well.
And what is a fashion collection without juicy references to dig out? I'm not sure if Ervell would be too keen on the idea that he had any that could be detected but i've connected some dots on my own.
This is all subjective, it's what I picked up on, his clothes stand their ground with or without intellectualizing. There's definitely an unique appeal to Ervell's clothes, their hip but anti-hipster vibe, the boyish attitude, the freshness of the ideas. He draws on a male archetype not yet appreciated in Paris or Milan but is finding a voice among the new crop of menswear designers in New York. It's in this way that his clothes become so thoughtful. Ervell has something to say and we're all the better for it if we listen.
please view the full collection and read Tim Blank's fantastic review at men.style.com
If you can get past the peculiar ethnic and cultural undertones, Speed Racer was really good. It has a good way of mixing a dramatic plot with action. The proportions and silhouettes of their animated costumes are pretty clever as well.
image from anime.com