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ARE FASHION SHOWS STILL RELEVANT?

Louis Vuitton’s spring 2020 show. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

As our industry grapples with the impact of fast fashion on our planet and explores circular fashion concepts, such as ‘fundamental redesign’ (the shift from a ‘take-make-waste’ model towards a ‘reuse-based’ model), while other more responsible brands move to put the health of our planet over profits, we must ask ourselves… are fashion shows still relevant?

Add to these concerns the reality that designers are expected to execute four collections a year (spring/summer, fall/winter, resort, and pre-fall) as well as produce an expensive fashion show twice a year. As the industry once again ponders whether the expense and the number of shows are necessary, especially in a digital, on-demand, eco-conscious environment, the fact remains that consumers are not spending as much money on clothing as they are on technology and vacations. So, is this pace and expense sustainable?  Let’s take a look. But first, let’s explore the origins of the fashion show.

History of the Fashion Show

According to Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry, written by our founder, Francesca Sterlacci and Joanne Arbuckle, the former Dean of the Fashion Institute Technology:

“The first fashion shows can be traced to Paris, beginning in the mid-1800s, with designers Charles Frederick Worth, Jeanne Paquin and Jean Patou. Worth was the first to design and display his own creations for women to choose from, via a “fashion show” on live models, four times a year.”House-of-Redfern---Galerie-de-vente---Paris-fashion-1910

 

Fashion models and society ladies at a designer salon circa 1910 (Photo credit: Glamourdaze.com)

The Paris salon show schedule would inevitably become the foundation for ‘fashion weeks’ in Milan, London, and New York. These cities became known as the “Big Four,” the largest and most important centers for fashion. In its early days, shows were solely for core customers, buyers and editors. The general public didn’t see the latest designer wares until they were available in stores some four to six months later. Even fashion magazines understood that the latest creations could not be unveiled in their editorial pages until they could actually be purchased by the consumer. A concept that has changed over time but may need to be revisited.

In 1943, New York fashion designers held ‘press weeks’ in fall and spring whereby editors and buyers would swarm to ritzy hotels to view the latest designer runway presentations.  For decades, this is how the system worked. Runway shows offered buyers and editors a chance to see designers’ collection, six months before they became available to the public. This helped buyers plan their “open-to-buy” and advertising budgets, and for editors to plan the trends that they would promote and feature in their editorial pages. Fun fact: American fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert was the first to create fashion shows as charitable events with her March of Dimes shows (1948-1960), that not only raised money but helped promote American fashion design.

Christian Dior Show in 1948 (Photo Courtesy of AP Photo)

 

The Fashion Calendar

With so many fashion shows to coordinate among the “Big Four,”  a schedule was needed to keep shows from overlapping. Enter Ruth Finley and her fashion calendar, known in the industry as the “Pink Bible.”  In existence since the 1950s, the Fashion Calendar still is the” fashion planner for all fashion runway shows and other related fashion events.  In 2014, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) acquired the Fashion Calendar. Today it has six hundred and fifty subscribers and available in digital format only. No serious designer would dare schedule their show without first consulting with Fashion Calendar.

Fashion Weeks: NYFW – LFW – MFW  & PFW

New York Fashion Week (NYFW), as we know it today, began in 1993. Fern Mallis, then executive director of the CFDA, took hold of fashion’s schedule and tried to centralize the shows so that buyers and editors were not shuffling all over the city.  “Organized shows put American designers on the map and changed the fashion landscape forever,” Mallis told Racked in 2015. “Before that, there were 50 shows in 50 locations. Everyone did their own thing without understanding what a nightmare it was to get from one show to the other.”

      “To dispel the myth that U.S. fashion designers were influenced by their European counterparts, in 1998, American designers decided to move their fashion show schedule ahead of Paris, London and Milan and instead of being the last show, they became the first. This has remained the schedule into the twenty-first century.” ~ Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry

Bryant Park, located in mid-town Manhattan, was home to NYFW for 16 years. It was the first time designers were offered the option to present their fashion show without the responsibility of having to produce a fashion show from scratch –  the space, lighting, sound, and security were all handled by a production firm (IMG). That’s not to say it was cheap. According to Forbes.com,  “In 2007, a show at Bryant Park cost at least $50,000 for designers, according to one estimate.” Bryant Park  heightened awareness of NYFW and the fashion game began to change. It also provided an opportunity for designers to invite celebrities to sit front row, next to editors and later led to the rise of fashion bloggers and influencers.

By 2010, and with nearly 300 scheduled shows, the fashion crowd outgrew Bryant Park. NYFW was then moved to Lincoln Center for several seasons, however, as we all know, fashion is fickle. Today NYFW shows are primarily held in spaces along the West Side Highway and at Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, where the spaces are larger and New York City traffic is less of an issue.

Bloggers & Influencers- From left: bloggers Bryanboy, Rumi Neely, Leandra Medine, Natalie Joos, Elin Kling &

Hanneli Mustaparta attend the Phillip Lim Spring 2014 fashion show in New York City. (Wendell Teodoro/WireImage, via Getty)

The Birth of the European Fashion Show Extravaganza

While U.S. designers mostly stayed faithful to the traditional runway show with models parading down a long narrow catwalk or in a passerelle or semi-circular format, their European counterparts favored the extravaganza. For example, Nino Cerutti’s used publicity stunts to self-promote, such as when he painted Lancia convertibles blue, then paraded them down the streets of Rome and onto the runway, where a starlet then broke a bottle of champagne on the hood. Designers Claude Montana and Thierry Mugler staged fashion show “extravaganzas” during the 1970s and 1980s that became media hypes, with fashion models often upstaging the clothes. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, designers John Galliano and Alexander McQueen continued to create some of the most spectacular shows, often with celebrity guests in attendance and sometimes even taking to the catwalk. Viktor & Rolf, Chanel, Rick Owens, Fendi and Ricardo Tisci at Givenchy transformed the fashion show experience for the new millennium by: creating avant-garde conceptual performances, adding plus size models and introducing technology, such as the Fendi show in 2015 that used drones to film and live stream the show.

Broken Fashion Show System

According to the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry, “By 2015, designers, buyers, fashion journalists and fashion organizations, such as the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the British Fashion Council, began to examine the “broken” fashion system as it related to the overcrowded fashion show schedule, the excessive number of shows and the relevance of showing fashion that cannot be immediately purchased; since the traditional fashion show system features merchandise six months in advance of the selling season and live-streamed fashion shows are available to consumers where immediacy is key for consumers in a digital age. Burberry was the first to make the decision to change the model by; showing only two collections a year, combining their menswear and womenswear in the same show, featuring clothes in season and not six months ahead of the season, and making the merchandise for sale immediately afterwards. In 2016, recording artist Kanye West and Adidas made fashion history when, timed to the launch of West’s new album The Life of Pablo, they held the first ever consumer ticket-holder fashion show at Madison Square Garden with tickets for their Yeezy-Adidas show priced at $275 each.”

Today, shows are not only photographed for social media, but they are also live-streamed so anyone sitting at home in front of their computer can tune in. Fashion shows have now evolved into marketing spectacles directed towards a mass audience. Hundreds of thousands attend fashion week, but thanks to today’s digital world, millions of people live-stream fashion shows online. So the purpose of fashion week seems clear; capture the attention of as many people as possible; visibility leads to sales, right? Only to a degree.  Unfortunately, the equation is not so straightforward and for years the question of “is fashion week dying” has been an ongoing conversation among fashion insiders.

“In a world that has become increasingly immediate, the current way of showing a collection four months before it is available to consumers is an antiquated idea and one that no longer makes sense,” designer Tom Ford told WWD in 2016. “We have been living with a fashion calendar and system that is from another era.”

While some may believe the fashion week runway format is archaic, this system still exists, but has arguably lost step in a world where everything is instantly visible across various social media platforms. Today, designers and brands can bypass store partners and sell straight to their customers through their own websites. It has become routine for consumers to stream new products that fast fashion popularized and these forces have transformed the fashion industry.

Enter Instagram

One of the biggest game-changers for the industry has been Instagram. The popular social media platform creates a constant connection between brands and customers and has helped reshape the way brands communicate to potential customers. Designers even create Instagammable ‘moments’ during their runway shows.

Chanel transformed the Grand Palais into a beach scene during Paris Fashion Week in October 2018 (Photo courtesy of Reuters)

And yet, fashion shows and their organizers aren’t disappearing time soon, in actuality, the reverse is happening, as more cities around the world are staging their own fashion weeks including Shanghai, Seoul, and even Canada. Many prestigious designer houses have even opted to show full runway extravaganzas for their resort and pre-fall collections as well. Many brands, both large and small, are joining the fashion week cycle because of the prestige and exposure that comes with it.

But one must ask, is the exposure worth the price tag that goes along with producing a fashion show?

Of course, the answer varies by brand. In 2019, Christian Siriano provided a breakdown of his show cost for Vogue Business that reached up to $300,000. It included models, set design, lighting, sound, and all the elements needed to create a runway show. According to an interview in Vogue, Siriano stated, “I think when our investors go through the numbers, it’s really hard for them to see actual returns, obviously, there are ways to tell if a collection is more successful than another, but that doesn’t necessarily have to do with the show. It has more to do with the timing, or the fabrications we’re using or what’s happening with the seasons.”

Christian Siriano’s spring 2020 show. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

While a six-figure tab will give you a basic fashion show format, there are those designers who go to the extreme during NYFW. In 2011, The New York Times reported that Marc Jacobs (following in the European show extravaganza tradition) spent $1 million to produce his show. While these grand spectacles are a tool to sell clothes, the buyers attending these shows do not buy their collections during the show, but rather sales take place during private showroom appointments. So is it all worth it?

Rachel Feinstein’s set for Marc Jacobs’ Fall 2012 show. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

The reach and cost-effectiveness of having such a show is difficult to determine. Most brands look to Instagram as a tool to determine how many potential customers have viewed their runway videos and images.

To hype their show and encourage sales, some brands have tried to offer customers specific looks immediately after the show, both in their stores and on their website, in an attempt to translate the excitement of the runway moment. Others have opted to live stream their runway show so customers can view the show and then immediately shop the collection. A few designers – such as Gucci and Balenciaga- have taken to regularly dropping new items between shows.

So with a six-figure price tag, many young designers are conflicted and ask the question, “is a fashion show worth the cost?” Well for many, the answer is yes. A fashion show is a great marketing tool. It is a way to get customers to notice your exciting and creative work. For many luxury brands, a show is a marketing tool to sell cosmetics, perfume and accessories. These brands may actually lose money producing clothes, as Exane BNP Paribas and the fashion consultancy firm VR Fashion Luxury Expertise have noted. But runway shows and their creative clothing are valuable to the branding. “Today shows have nothing to do with clothes anymore,” Guram Gvasalia, the CEO of Vetements, told WWD after the brand reorganized the scheduling of its runway shows in 2017. “Most of the looks are not even produced and therefore never get to the shop floor. Shows are there merely to sell a dream and that, at the end of the day, will sell a perfume or a wallet in a duty-free store.”

For smaller labels, branding is also an important opportunity that can benefit their brand. Christian Siriano told Vogue Runway that his shows, which have been praised for his diversity in models, have attracted other business, such as a shoe partnership with Payless. Presenting during a major fashion week also adds credibility and legitimacy to a young label. It can help put their brand on radar of industry leaders. Stylists for example keep an eye on fashion week and pull clothes for photoshoots and celebrity events. A young designer can easily land in an editorial layout or on the red carpet on a major celebrity. Or, catch the eye of a savy store buyer who just might be willing to give them a break.

The fashion industry represents over $2.5 trillion dollars (according to a recent McKinsey report in 2018) and, on average, a 10 to 15 minute fashion show can cost anywhere from $200,000 to over $1 million. With these hefty price tags brands must think, “what is the return on investment?” Is the answer social influence? Is it celebrities and street-style stars wearing the collection? Well, according to data analytics provider Launchmetrics, the answer is more complex.

Launchmetrics’ new “Data on the Runway” report suggests the key is MIV or media impact value – an algorithm which measures the impact of media placements to derive a number for performance outcomes.

Take Ralph Lauren’s 50th year anniversary for example (spring 2019), Launchmetrics’ data analysts found that Ralph Lauren’s widely publicized anniversary show ranked first amongst the brands, with the highest MIV generated over the Fashion Weeks at $38 million.

The star-studded event included Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Robert De Niro, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, and Anna Wintour. Lauren also hosted an extravagant collection presentation and finished with a paparazzi-heavy post-show dinner party.

Left to right: Hillary Clinton, Ralph Lauren, and Anna Wintour. (Photo courtesy of Instagram@Ralph Lauren)

According to Launchmetrics, it is clear that influencers garnered enormous buzz for the brand (taking 46.2% of the pie), followed by Ralph Lauren’s owned media channels (at 29.7%).

Following Ralph Lauren, Launchmetrics estimated Coach ($27 million), Dior ($22.6 million) and Gucci ($19.4 million), followed closely behind and once again, Chiara Ferragni topped the charts as the top influencer voice.

Chiara Ferragani (known as The Blond Salad) led with $18.3 million in MIV; to put that into perspective, she nearly reached the same MIV as Versace ($18.7 million) did for their SS19 show — proving the continual power of influencer investments.

Influencer Chiara Ferragni (right) attends many shows over Fashion Month and is expected to boast $18.3 million in Media Impact Value – Zimbio.com

According to Forbes magazine, “social media actually proved imperative for fashion brands altogether; posts shared by celebrities and influencers represent an impressive 89% of buzz compared to online media’s 11%. Spring/Summer 19’s top-performing celebrity was Nicki Minaj, who generated a total of $11.3 million MIV over the season.”

Alison Bringé, CMO at Launchmetrics, said: “Today, fashion weeks are no longer industry events but are a platform to reach the digital savvy consumer, so brands need to think outside the box in order to transform their 15-minute event into something that lives on, beyond what happens on the runway. The case studies within the report shed light on how brands can generate buzz through activities such as using influencers to create 360° campaigns, changing their location to talk to new consumers and markets, or even by focusing on their own media to increase the share of wallet.”

While the ROI for having a runway show differs for every brand, one point is clear; a fashion show is the best way for a designer to communicate their creative vision. “For me, the show is the only moment when I can tell my story,” designer Dries Van Noten once told The Independent. “It’s the way I communicate my ideas to the world.”

Dries Van Noten’s men’s spring 2019 collection, inspired by the work of interiors designer Verner Panton (Photo courtesy of AP Photos)

“If I couldn’t do my shows, I wouldn’t want to be in fashion,” designer Thom Browne told author Booth Moore in her book, American Runway. “I look at my shows as my responsibility in the world of design to move design forward. I think they are such an amazing way of giving a more interesting context to fashion.”

Thom Brown’s spring 2020 show. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

So in the end, we ask these questions: 1) Are fashion shows still relevant? 2) How do emerging designers afford the fashion show price tag? 3) Will the next generation of designers find an affordable alternative to the fashion show? 4) Will millennial & Gen Z designers find a way to disrupt the status quo and make the fashion show as obsolete as the floppy disk? 5) Will we soon be watching virtual 3D fashion shows with life-like avatars walking the runway?

Share your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you!

 

 

PARIS JOINS THE MOVEMENT- YOUNG DESIGNERS TAKE CENTER STAGE

- - Fashion Shows

Naomi Campbell closes Saint Laurent’s Spring 2020 show (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

What a great season Spring 2020 has turned out to be. Yes, the old guard and heritage houses like Ralph, Burberry, Versace and Saint Laurent have the funds to create runway spectacles chock-a-block with celebs, BUT for the first time ever, we are witnessing the Big Four- NY, London, Milan and Paris, celebrate new, creative, young design talent. Maybe it’s a sign of the times. With calls for diversity on the runway in terms of ethnicity, gender parity and  body positivity, as well as messages about climate change and sustainability, we can’t help but think that finally…established designers are making room for upstarts. No one could be happier than us here at University of Fashion, whose mission has always been, since 2008, to provide equal opportunity access to affordable fashion education for all.

Let’s take a look at  some of the emerging designers who are fast becoming fashion’s favorites.

Telfar

Telfar’s Spring 2020 show (photo courtesy Vogue.com)

Telfer Clemens is a young NY designer known for creating show experiences that are as energetic and cool as his non-gender fashion label Telfar, which he established in 2005. For his Spring 2020 collection, Clemens’ plan was to “disrupt Paris Fashion Week” (according to his show notes), and Clemens did so with fanfare.

The designer presented a short film entitled, “The World Isn’t Everything,” which he collaborated on with friends such as Moonlight’s Ashton Sanders, Kelsey Lu, Petra Collins, and Slave Play playwright Jeremy O. Harris, who was in the audience in a look from Telfar: a yellow shirt, athletic shorts, and fishnets. The video played at the theater La Cigale, and as the characters appeared on screen, models walked the runway in the exact looks; creating an interesting double affect.

According to Clemens, the collection was inspired by “the customs/security lines at any airport at any given time, anywhere in the world.” So obviously the collection focused on comfort and style. Clemens’s travelers were ultra-cool as they wore cargo pants, utility jackets, asymmetrical tops, and his new take on the tracksuit – with interesting cut-outs. Clemens interlocking T and C bags have become a huge hit, so for Spring, he expanded on his accessories by offering a small assortment of jewelry with his signature logo.

After the finale walk, the models began dancing and Clemens, the filmmakers, and eventually the show attendees, all joined in on the fun.  It was a joyful way to start Paris fashion week.

Rokh

Rokh’s Spring 2020 show (photo courtesy from Vogue.com)

We are living in a global world and Rok Hwang, the designer behind the label Rokh, embodies this concept perfectly. He is a Korean-born designer, based in London, showing in Paris. His collection was inspired by a road trip he took across America with his family when he was only 10 years old. According to Vogue.com interview, Hwang said, “I remember arriving at 8 o’clock in the morning in New York and seeing all these girls walking really fast in sharp suits and checked trenches. That was the memory embedded in me; I wanted to write a visual story of that trip.”

The collection had a fresh take on a Nineties theme, as Hwang redefined a chic, modern sportswear with a dark edge. The designer sliced, diced, and wrapped trench coats, added leather patchwork and plaids, and his slit-hemmed pants gave off an updated twist to the grunge look. With such a polished collection, it’s no surprise that Hwang was a runner-up for the LVMH Prize in 2018, and was one of the founding members of Phoebe Philo’s team, picked for her studio at Céline, straight after graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2010.

Koché

Koché’s spring 2020 show (photo courtesy from Vogue.com)

Christelle Kocher may have only been designing her fashion label Koché for a few years now, but the talented designer is already a fashion darling among the influential crowd. This year’s winner of the ANDAM Prize (Paris’ prestigious fashion award) Kocher one-upped herself by becoming the first designer ever to be offered the Centre Pompidou’s Bibliothèque as a show venue. She even snagged a collaboration with Nike.

Kocher has mastered the ‘high-low aesthetic’ as she mixes streetwear with couture details. Case in point, a sharply tailored trench with intricate embroidery. She is also passionate about sustainability and since the start of her label, has incorporated upcycled materials throughout her collection. For Spring, the recycled fabrics were found on patchwork polo dresses and tracksuits.

Her show had a heavy focus on evening looks with intricate lace dresses, pajama-inspired looks with feather trims and the finale was a spangly cocktail number, the base of which were soccer jerseys cut into embellished florets linked together by strands of tiny beads. This may have been Kocher’s strongest collection yet.

Atlein

Atlein’s Spring 2020 show (photo courtesy from Vogue.com)

Antonin Tron is another young designer who is incorporating sustainability into his collection labeled Atlein. For Spring, he presented a chic and elevated collection. Most impressive was that Tron was able to create 60% of his collection using deadstock fabrics that he sourced from mills and factories across Italy. So bravo to Tron who is elevating the concept of sustainability! The designer is also a member of the Extinction Rebellion, fighting for real action on climate change.

The majority of Tron’s collection is made in his native France, by technicians that have fine-tuned the art of craftsmanship. Tron is quickly becoming known as a master in draping, cutting and manipulating jersey (which has become his signature fabric). On his runway, there were plenty of amazing dresses, most notable were the bias-cut floral prints that where youthful, yet oh so sophisticated. It’s exciting to watch this new crop of designers bring together fashion and sustainability in a modern way, and Tron was able to execute this blend perfectly.

The Old Guard

We would not want to end our coverage of PFW without a shout-out to Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent who recruited supermodel Naomi Campbell to close out his show, held under the Eiffel Tower. Remember when fashion show finales ended with a wedding dress? Well, it seems that a supermodel or celeb (JLo for Versace) is fast becoming the trend.

At the Christian Dior show, creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri held tribute to nature, with 164 trees lining the runway and that will later be planted throughout Paris. You have to admit, fashion knows how to create buzz, right?

Christian Dior’s Spring 2020 show is #PlantingForTheFuture (photo courtesy Vogue.com)

Meanwhile, at Maison Margiela, John Galliano enlisted male model Leon Dame who shot to fashion stardom with his stomping walk down the runaway.

At Maison Margiela, male model Leon Dame shot to fashion stardom with his stomping walk down the runaway. He even put a smile on Anna Wintour’s face. (Photo courtesy of DailyMail.com)

Of special note and one of the strongest and most exciting shows in Paris was the enchanting collaboration between Dries Van Noten and Christian Lacroix. According to Cathy Horyn, the two masters working together, “was unprecedented. As far as I can tell, no couturier and ready-to-wear designer have ever worked together before on a runway collection. There have been “capsule” collaborations between designers and mass or leisure brands — Karl Lagerfeld and H&M, for example, or Rick Owens and Birkenstock. But from the outset, Van Noten says he didn’t want his project with Lacroix to be seen in that context — as just another marketing opportunity.”

“I started to work on this collection in February,” Van Noten said, explaining what led him to contact Lacroix. “Normally, I try to avoid escapism and nostalgia, but the world is not a very nice at the moment. So many things go wrong, and I thought maybe it would be interesting to do something about escapism.”

Van Noten is known for his exquisite fabrics and Lacroix is a master at over the top romance, so together, they created a magical moment that sent buyers, editors and other designers into a delightful frenzy.

Dries Van Noten x Christian Lacroix’s Spring 2020 show (photo courtesy from Vogue.com)

Care to share with us which aspiring designer from Fashion Week S/S 2020 you think is on track to ‘make it’?

RESORT 2020 TAKES OVER SOCIAL MEDIA

Valentino’s Resort 2020 Collection (Photo Courtesy of Valentino)

It’s the time of year when glamorous resort shows are flooding social media channels. And, while some designer’s whisk their clients and the press off to exotic locations around the world to witness their show, but what does this season actually mean for retailers and us as consumers? In the age of transparency, social justice and a world in flux, how are these issues reflected in the resort collections at some of the world’s major famous houses?

By definition, “resort,” (also known as cruisewear), was a season originally targeted to affluent customers who spent their post-Holiday/New Year’s weeks in mostly warm weather climates. However, due to a better economy and easy access to flights, more consumers have the income and the ability to  travel. As a result, cruisewear has become a major category for the fashion industry. It has also become a season for designers to try out new ideas ahead of their Spring collection.

Resort has also become a favorite for retailers, after all, it’s the longest selling season, hitting the floor around November and selling, at full price, until May when spring collections hit the stores. Today, brands at all price points create resort collections to satisfy their customers who crave a new purchase.

Burberry’s Resort 2020 Collection (Photo Courtesy of Burberry)

With concerns about global corruption, transparency, climate change, inequality and the need to escape or get way from the world’s craziness, it’s easy to see why consumers, with a simple click of a button, are enticed to make resort season purchases.

Resort season went from APRIL 29 – MAY 30, 2019. Here are a few designers that have created social media spectacles with their elaborate shows.

Christian Dior

Christian Dior’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Maria Grazia Chiuri, the designer behind the luxury powerhouse Christian Dior, presented an elegantly chic collection in Marrakesh for her resort 2020 collection. The collection was an homage to 1960s Yves Saint Laurent and featured rich textiles and intricate prints on everything from boyish outerwear to feminine frocks.

Prada

Prada’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

All glitz and glam aside, Miuccia Prada showed her low-key, understated resort collection in her company’s West 52nd Street Piano Factory headquarters, but nonetheless, the event was filled with a star-studded front row. Prada went back to the paired down 90s aesthetic that made the designer a household name, but this time with a pretty, feminine twist. Prada worked primarily with cotton this season with sweet calico-prints, charming hand embroideries and smart striped shirtings in intricate shapes.

Chanel

Chanel’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

In her debut collection at the helm of Chanel, Virginie Viard kept true to Karl Lagerfeld’s grand showmanship. Viard recreated a pre-war train’s dining carriage  a la a Belle Epoque café  resembling Le Train Bleu at the Gare de Lyon.  The show came complete with potted palms and paintings suggesting the many glamorous destinations that the train might take you (all of them settings for past Chanel collections).

As for the clothes, Viard brought a new effortless ease to the Chanel silhouette with mini-skirted classic Chanel suit, tiered chiffon dresses and wide legged cropped pants paired with frothy blouses. It was exciting to see Viard stay within the DNA and house codes of Chanel and yet give the label a youthful twist.

Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Anyone who has followed Nicolas Ghesquière’s career knows that no one designs wearable, futuristic-inspired looks better than him. For his Louis Vuitton resort collection, the creative director held his show at the historic TWA Flight Center, designed in 1962 by Eero Saarinen. The space is reminiscent of a landed UFO in the middle of New York’s JFK airport.  Although the space has been closed for almost twenty years, it has now reopened as a luxury hotel and Ghesquière’s show was its unofficial opening party. Quite the ‘get’!

Seemed only fitting that Ghesquière was inspired by 1960s airline stewardess’ with short dresses and a nod to TWA’s iconic flight bags. New York City was also a point of reference for Ghesquière with his Wall Street-inspired pinstriped suits, while crystal embellished bustier tops and geometric metallic embroideries referenced Art Deco inspired skyscrapers, most notably the Chrysler Building. Overall, the Vuitton resort collection was dramatic and fun, one that will be worn by plenty of Hollywood starlets on the red carpet and beyond. Thanks Nicolas for your nod to the Big Apple!

Giorgio Armani

Giorgio Armani’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Giorgio Armani’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

For years, designers have staged over-the-top shows and traveled to exotic locations around the globe to present their pre-collections. But Giorgio Armani has always shunned that notion. And so it came as a complete surprise to press and buyers alike, that this season the designer decided to show his resort 2020 collection in Tokyo, as part of his grand store reopening. In a press conference before the show, Giorgio Armani stated, “I do not agree with this. Resort collections are mainly commercial; they have to be salable and appeal to buyers.” Armani speaks his mind and does things his own way.

Armani showed his collection at Tokyo’s National Museum, which is home to the most precious and rare Asian art collections. The glamorous affair was filled with Japanese and international celebrities, including Uma Thurman.

As for the clothes, they were Armani at his finest, with so many variations of the pantsuit – for both men and women – that there was literally an option for every customer. Now that’s business savvy!

Gucci

Gucci’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Gucci’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, has truly revitalized the label since taking over the house in 2015 and his momentum is only growing stronger. The designer staged his resort collection in Rome at the Capitolini Museum as a “hymn to freedom” that allowed him to express his belief in the idea of self-determination and gender equality.

According to an interview with Alessandro Michele, published in WWD, the resort collection” is empowering freedom of expression and, in particular, freedom of choice, supporting sexual and reproductive health and rights.” Illustrating this message, Michele posted feminist slogans like ‘My body, my choice.’ as well as ‘Chime for Change’ on  T-shirts. In addition, he embroidered an image of the female reproductive system on a gown that was embellished with flowers. Some looks also displayed ‘May 22, 1978,’ the date that the Italian law for the social protection of motherhood and legal abortion took effect. In terms of style, the designer’s wink to the Seventies was apparent, since it was a crucial time in history for the women’s lib movement.

While Michel’s collection featured both men’s and woman’s looks, many looks were gender neutral. There were plenty of his signature magpie layered looks that have really struck a chord with millennial influencers and celebrities, as well as kitsch Mickey Mouse printed looks.

Feel free to chime in on whether you think more designers should be using their brand status to promote social justice, just as  Alessandro Michele and other designers have done in past seasons. And if so, who are your favorites?

WORKING GIRL CHIC RULES THE RUNWAY IN MILAN & PARIS

Saint Laurent (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Saint Laurent (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

It may be the Year of the Pig, according to the Chinese zodiac, but 2019 is turning out to be all about Female Power! Thanks to feminist movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, and of course the Woman’s March that started as a worldwide protest against Donald Trump the day after his 2017 inauguration (and that has continued every year since), women are taking center stage around the world and demanding equality in every way. In 2018’s U.S. mid-term election, a record 117 women were elected to office. Finally … it looks like the tide has begun to change for women.

Rolling Stone's March  Cover featuring: Jahana Hayes, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, and Ilhan Omar

Rolling Stone’s March Cover featuring: Jahana Hayes, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, and Ilhan Omar

With extraordinary women being elected to powerful positions, designers are stepping up to the plate and creating powerful looks for these new high-profile women. The Fall 2019 collections saw the return of the “Power Suit” (remember your fashion history? Gaultier, Montana and Armani – circa 80s?). And, while the 80s versions consisted of exaggerated shoulder pads, wide belts, slim midi-skirts and bow blouses, all in traditional menswear inspired fabrics and colors, designers are putting a new slant on what a powerful woman in the 21st century should look like. Who could ever forget Melanie Griffith in the 1988 film Working Girl. Every young girl starting her career aspired to be Melanie’s iconic character, Tess McGill. Well, move over Tess, today’s woman is independent, outspoken, confident, diverse, opinionated, political, empowered and socially-conscious. These are the new role models for Millenials, Gen Zers and all those other generations to follow.

Check out Anthony Vaccarello’s collection for Saint Laurent, a 1980s redux, complete with shoulders that extended two whole centimeters beyond the natural shoulder and updated the looks by introducing a neon color palette.

Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl

Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl

And alas! Thirty years later, the power suit is back, but this time around, the suit is soft and feminine.  According to an interview by Olivia Stren, for FashionMagazine.com (September 17, 2018), designer Joseph Altuzarra stated, “I think that the suit, for a long time, was trying to emulate a menswear staple when women were wearing it to work. It was about hiding your femininity. With so many strong women today embracing a more tailored, feminine pantsuit silhouette, I think it has emerged as a symbol of female empowerment and strength. In our case, the tailoring is always about celebrating femininity and a woman’s strength.” Altuzarra  claims that tailored ‘workwear’ is at the heart of his brand and credits his mother, who clocked in at a bank every morning, as his inspiration.

With “women power” in the air, it was no surprise that power dressing and chic workwear were key trends on the Milan and Paris Fall 2019 runway. While many of the designers who embraced this trend were women, there were a few ‘woke’ men that embraced the movement as well. Namely…Karl Lagerfeld. Although Milan kicked off with the tragic news that Karl Lagerfeld has passed away on February 19th, his legacy lived on in his last collection for Fendi. And you just got the sense that, as always, Karl got the memo – Women Rule.

FENDI

Fendi (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Fendi (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

He used to call me ‘la petite fille triste,” remembered Silvia Venturini Fendi, in an emotional backstage scene at the elegiac Fendi show, the last designed by the late Karl Lagerfeld, whom she first met when she was four years old. “Now is not the time to be sad,” she added, noting that Lagerfeld supervised every look in the focused collection that revealed what she called “those facets of himthe signatures that he had embedded into the brand’s DNA since he first met the quintet of Fendi sisters, including Venturini Fendi’s mother, Anna, in Rome in 1965.” Silvia Fendi stated to Vogue.com.

The collection included plenty of sharp tailoring paired with crisp shirts that added a refined, yet flirty, twist to office dressing.

MAX MARA

Max Mara (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Max Mara (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Who could forget Nancy Pelosi in her Max Mara coat on her way to meet with Donald Trump in December regarding border wall funding – this moment was the inspiration behind creative director Ian Griffiths Fall 2019 Max Mara collection. Ms. Pelosi was front and center on Griffiths’s Fall mood board as he made a strong connection between power and glamour. Griffith played with sharp tailoring, in head to toe monochromatic colors that ranged from soft camel to bold blues.

PRADA

Prada (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Prada (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

As one of the most politically-articulate designers in the fashion industry, having once been a member of the Italian Communist Party and an ardent feminist, the fear of war and the political turmoil worldwide has been a constant worry on Miuccia Prada’s mind. So, for her Fall collection, the designer was inspired by “romance and fear,” in of all things…a nod to the Bride of Frankenstein. For her romantic girls, Prada showed plenty of delicate lace capes, 3-D floral skirts and glittery red shoes, but these feminine gestures stomped their way into an army of utilitarianism looks that ranged from uniform military jackets to combat boots. The collection embraced the Prada woman; she’s smart, worldly, and understands the turmoil around her, yet she still really loves fashion.

SALVATORE FERRAGAMO

Salvatore Ferragamo (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Salvatore Ferragamo (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Just days before the show, Salvatore Ferragamo announced Paul Andrew’s promotion to creative director, overseeing all design operations for the company. For Andrew, it all starts with ‘the shoe.’ Case in point, a Ferragamo multicolored patchwork shoe that was created in 1942, which provided the collection’s color palette and patchwork prints. Andrew also showed a more refined side with a chic belted pantsuit and lots of tailored outerwear.

GIORGIO ARMANI

Giorgio Armani  (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Giorgio Armani (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

No one, and I mean no one, does tailoring better than Giorgio Armani. And for his Fall 2019 unisex show, the designer titled his collection “Rhapsody in Blue.” Although the collection was overwhelming dark (a sign of the times?), there were plenty of interesting details. Armani showed jodhpur pants paired with tailored jackets for day, while for evening he created a beaded floral shrunken jacket that was paired with velvet trousers for a relaxed take on eveningwear, as only Armani knows how.

GUCCI

Gucci (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Gucci (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Okay, so you see the image of this houndstooth suit and you say, gotta be Chanel right? Well…wrong! It’s Alessandro Michele. Known for his eclectic, magpie collections for Gucci that often blast gender norms and historical mash-ups, for Fall 2019 he delivered a powerful collection filled with the treasured pieces you would find in your grandmother’s closet. With a nod to the 40s, Michele created tailored jackets that were cut to perfection for both men and women, as well as wide leg cropped trousers, Pierrot collar shirts and anything but basic outerwear. While this may have been a tamer Gucci collection, Michele infused plenty of eccentric touches – such as the fetish masks and metal ear coverings.

CHRISTIAN DIOR

Christian Dior (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Christian Dior (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Among the designers that have truly taken their causes to the runway is Maria Grazia Chiuri, the creative director for Christian Dior. Season after season Chiuri takes a stand on women’s rights and equality. For Fall 2019, Chiuri channeled Italian conceptual artist Bianca Menna, who in the 1970s signed her work pseudonymously as Tomaso Binga, a man, to cunningly protest male privilege in the art world. The artist read a poem about the promise of a feminist victory at Chiuri’s show. As for the clothes, Chiuri was inspired by England’s “Teddy Girls” – 1950s working class girls who had a love of Rock & Roll and clubbing – as well as Dior’s  optimistic creations of the same time period. The collection was sportswear at its best! Chiuri layered rompers, skirts, coats, trousers and bustiers in a modern and fresh way.

DRIES VAN NOTEN

Dries Van Noten (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Dries Van Noten (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Dries Van Noten is known for his bold prints and unapologetic use of color, but let’s face it, today’s state of the world is a bit darker so Van Noten turned out a hauntingly beautiful show. While his signature floral prints are traditionally romantic and vibrant, this Fall the floral motif took a somber turn. In an interview with Vogue, Van Noten stated “We picked them from my garden last October and photographed them. I wanted roses but not sweet roses—roses with an edge, roses for now. Flowers can be romantic, but this I wanted to take out, because the times are tougher than in the past. So you see the diseases, the black spot, the imperfections.

Van Noten opened the show with a lineup of polished gray pantsuits, perfect looks for the office (political or business), case in point, a pinstripe belted pantsuit with a matching puffer stole. How incredibly chic! Can you just imagine Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in this?

CHLOE

Chloé (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Chloé (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Chloé paid a touching tribute to Karl Lagerfeld, the late designer who designed for the house  from 1963 – 1983. When the fashion crowd arrived, they found placed on their seats postcards that featured images of Lagerfeld’s past collections, as well as his own comments about his work. One particular quote from 1975 still resonates today, “The essence of modern dressing—unstructured, weightless, [and] totally feminine.”

Fast forward, forty years later, and this is still the Chloé aesthetic; upscale bohemian in the chicest and most sophisticated way. For her Fall 2019 collection, Natacha Ramsay-Levi found her stride at the house. There were an abundance of breezy but polished dresses that every “It Girl” will crave. Ramsay-Levi paired these effortless frocks with mid-heel boots to complete the effortlessly cool look.

Sure Ramsay-Levi nailed the boho look, but she also showcased her talents as a great tailor with Prince of Wales trousers and skirts, military-inspired trousers and plenty of outerwear,  cut to perfection.

Balmain (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Balmain (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Meanwhile at Balmain, Olivier Rousteing went full-out 80s biker chic. Big shoulders, biker chains, black leather moto jackets and power suiting on steroids was his vision of the modern woman. But, not so sure about whether this through-back look will help women in today’s day and age like it did in the 80s. What would Nancy Pelosi or RBG say?

So tell us, where do you stand on power-dressing in the 21st century?  

The Magical & Technological World of Couture: Fall 2018

Chanel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of W Magazine)

Chanel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of W Magazine)

Need an escape from a world filled with political unrest, nuclear threats and terrorism? Enter…haute couture. Yeah, we know covering fashion, especially the world of couture, may seem frivolous to many, but couture is about dreaming, escapism and fantasy. Who wouldn’t want to live right now in a world of beautiful handmade gowns while running through a garden in Paris or engaging in a leisurely walk along the Seine?

But the truth is, couture is so much more than fantasy. Costume and fashion history would not be the same without it and let’s face it… couture is the ultimate marketing machine!

We need only look back in time to a publication written between 1751 and 1772 by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert entitled Encyclopédie, ou dictionaire raisonné des sciences, des art et des métiers, to see how this pivotal tome gave instructions to the métiers (trades) in the art of dressmaking, forever placing this trade on equal footing with the arts and sciences of the time.

And of course we owe the ‘Father of Couture,’ Englishman Charles Frederick Worth (Paris circa 1856 ), the fashion genius who together with his wife as muse, transformed the world of dressmaking into ‘high fashion’. Over time, the House of Worth, along with other couturières (female) and couturiers (male) were able to take the craft to a whole other level by creating perfumes, shoes, millinery and diffusion lines. These spin-offs planted the seeds which would later become lifestyle branding with lots of marketing hype!

 

Valentino Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of W Magazine)

Valentino Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of W Magazine)

We know that these one-of-a kind haute creations come with a hefty price tag. On average, one couture gown can take over 800 hours to create and cost several hundred thousand dollars. Even couture daywear starts at around $10,000! It’s estimated that there are only approximately 2,000 couture clients, mostly from Russia, China, the United States and the Middle East, with fewer than 300 that buy regularly.

So, do the numbers. With only a handful of steady customers, you got it…haute couture is not a money maker. Couture houses spend millions of dollars twice a year, by selecting exquisite fabrics, hand-sewing each garment, employing top métiers for beading and embroideries and producing larger-than-life runway shows, using A list models, hair and make-up teams. The profits are negligible, amounting to less than ten per cent of gross profits for some houses, though most operate at a loss. However, their true value is in the selling of the house’s fragrance, make-up line and other less-expensive branded items like shoes and handbags.

Draping Technique (Photos courtesy of Pinterest)

Draping Technique (Photos courtesy of Pinterest)

So why do these houses still invest in their haute couture collections, other than pushing their ancillary products? They are selling a dream. Fashion shows attract huge media attention and gain enormous publicity for the couture houses. Think about how many actresses wear couture on the red carpet. These designers are selling a dream of chic cachet, beauty, desirability and exclusiveness, that the ordinary person can ‘buy into.’

Here are some highlights of the Haute Couture Fall 2018 Season:

VALENTINO

Pierpaolo Piccioli has been on a role and his Valentino Couture show closed out Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris with rave reviews. This season Piccioli offered a brilliant line-up of rich saturated hues and swaggering proportions. According to Vogue.com, Piccioli stated, “Couture involves a deeper and more intimate perspective, to go further into your own vision of beauty.”  His vision was a perfect blend of Greek Mythology, 17th- and 18th-century painting, the films of Pasolini and the photographs of Deborah Turbeville, medieval armor, and Ziggy Stardust. Whew, that’s quite a line-up of inspiration, eh?

This translated into intricate embroidered capes, a multiple brocade evening dress adorned with rhinestones, sequins and pearls, a red sculpted jersey gown and a trio of featherweight taffeta dresses that wrapped around the body.

Valentino Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Valentino Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Valentino Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Valentino Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

FENDI

How does a house known for its use of fur adapt to the changing landscape of the anti-fur movement? After all, major fashion houses such as Gucci, Versace and Michael Kors have all announced they would go fur free and use only faux fur in their collections. Fendi on the other hand, made no such promise, but did abandon their Haute Fur Show in favor of a couture show.

Though Fendi did include some fur pieces, what they also did was produce something much more creative than fur and faux fur (which by the way is also a major earth pollutant). They ingeniously manipulated textiles in such a way as to resemble real fur; case in point, a coat created with fine strips of chiffon that were frayed and stitched together so closely that it could have been easily mistaken for an intarsia’d mink. While there were plenty of real fur looks in the line-up, it was refreshing for a house like Fendi show alternatives. And oh, what a great upcycling concept!

Fendi Haute Couture faux fur Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Fendi Haute Couture faux fur Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Fendi Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Fendi Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

JEAN PAUL GAULTIER

Always known to break with tradition, Jean Paul Gaultier showed his haute couture collection on both male and female models as the versatility of the collection was genderless. With a strong emphasis on tailoring, his suits were oh so chic! Gaultier was able to take the iconic “Le Smoking” and update it for the 21st century.

Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

MAISON MARGIELA

John Galliano has now taken to podcasting and for Margiela couture he stated that this is collection is “the raw, raw, undiluted essence, the parfum of the house.” Following in the footsteps of his Artisanal collection for men, Galliano presented a highly innovative, high-concept collection exposing the craftsmanship of haute couture –  literally – by revealing the exquisite stitching that goes into the construction of a hand-tailored jacket. The true genius of Galliano came through by layering garments between tubes of filmy nylon, thus creating what Vogue called “translucent fabric sandwiches.”

“We’re all nomads today,” added Galliano, “. . . we do move in tribes.” Galliano calls it “nomadic glamour.” Reminds us a bit of Yeohlee and her “Urban Nomads” collection, only this time, on steroids!

Maison Margiela Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Maison Margiela Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Maison Margiela Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Maison Margiela Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

ARMANI PRIVE

Ahhhh, and then there was Armani. Known for his master tailoring and Red Carpet artistry, the fall Armani Privé collection didn’t disappoint.  Armani’s press notes noted “A sculptural, almost regal style.”  The first half of the show (there were almost 100 looks in all), was a sea of black and champagne-colored pantsuits and evening looks, all that captured the chic essence of Armani beautifully. However, in an attempt to keep up with the times, half-way through the show Armani switched gears and sent out electric hues in everything from an ostrich feather cape to a hot pink and turquoise pantsuit that was a complete disconnect to the first half of the show. Go Armani!

Armani Prive Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Armani Prive Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Armani Prive Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Armani Prive Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

CHANEL

We fashionistas can always count on Karl Lagerfeld to create a wonderful backdrop for his Chanel collection. And for this collection he did not disappoint by sending his models for stroll along the Seine with its wide sidewalks and low stone walls framing the magnificent Institut de France, built by Louis le Vau for Cardinal Mazarin in the 1660s (and where the Academie Française is housed). Perhaps with age, Lagerfeld is feeling a bit reflective about his first days in Paris as an 18-year old. In an interview with Vogue before the show, Lagerfeld remembered a city still suffering from postwar neglect, with dirty streets and dark, unrestored buildings. “People said to my parents, ‘but he can get lost,’” he added. “My mother knew better: I had a strong survivor instinct!”

The collection was filled with the House’s signature tweeds all in shades of grey. There were plenty of long skirts that unzipped to reveal sexy miniskirts adorned with magnificent embroideries. Lagerfeld also showed a silver foil ball gown skirt, a bevy of chic jackets and plenty of transparent chiffon pleated eveningwear.

Chanel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Chanel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Chanel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Chanel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

CHRISTIAN DIOR

After years of over the top glamour and in your face sex appeal at Dior, at the hands of Raf Simons and John Galliano, the tide seems to be turning toward a more minimalistic approach to fashion. At the forefront of this evolutionary change is Maria Grazia Chiuri. Her couture 2018 collection involved some feminist research.  She read up on Leonor Fini, one of the avant-garde artists Christian Dior chose to exhibit in the gallery he was involved with before becoming a couturier. The results were beautiful, somber, sculpted and pleated pieces that were way more complex than what met the eye. These were serious clothes. Only a seasoned designer like Chiuri knows how to design clothes, utilizing the talents of finest ‘hands’ in the business, that will attract the most discerning couture clients. Chiuri showed cashmere suits, simple strapless gowns that grazed the ankle, effortless pleated dresses and demure eveningwear.  This collection is timeless and elegant yet modern and refreshing. A hit!

Christian Dior Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Christian Dior Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Christian Dior Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Christian Dior Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

SONIA RYKIEL

For the past 50 years, the name Sonia Rykiel has been associated with fun, lighthearted knitwear. This season, designer Julie de Libran presented the first Sonia Rykiel couture collection. And, staying true to the Rykiel code, presented a collection with the same joie de vivre that the house’s founder was known for.

Gone from this collection were the traditional evening gowns that epitomize the world of couture. Instead, de Libran presented a youthful and edgy line-up. Looks ranged from a striped hand-beaded off the shoulder Marinière sweater to a black sweater dress with a trompe l’oeil bikini embroidery and a bridal corset look with front-lacing, a feathered knit veil and blue jeans. Surely de Libran is a couture disruptor but is this collection really worthy of being called couture?

Sonia Rykiel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Sonia Rykiel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Sonia Rykiel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Sonia Rykiel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

IRIS VAN HERPEN

Always a fashion renegade, Iris van Herpen decided to show her couture collection at the Galerie de Minérologie et de Géologie, a fitting choice, since the name of this collection was “Ludi Naturae,” translated from Latin, “nature play.”

However, Van Herpen’s idea of nature flirts with synthetic biology through her iconic laser-cutting techniques and 3-D printed illusion fabric innovations, which she has taken to new heights and labels it “syntopia.” To quote van Herpen: “I think we as humans don’t even come close to the intelligence within nature. It’s funny how people think that nature is simple and technology is complex—it’s the opposite; technology is simple and nature is complex.”

Known for her artist collaborations, this time it was Amsterdam-based artist duo Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta of Studio Drift who created the backdrop her runway ‘science fantasy. She also partnered with Dutch sculptor Peter Gentenaar who is known for capturing ‘organic memory’ and motion through his delicate, large-scale cellulose sculptures,  and together they created a show that was ‘other-worldly.’

Considered fashion’s ‘futurist-in-residence,’ couture season would be incomplete without Iris van Herpen and her vision.

Iris van Herpen's Fall 2018 Couture Show (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Iris van Herpen’s Fall 2018 Couture Show (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Iris van Herpen's Fall 2018 Couture Show (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Iris van Herpen’s Fall 2018 Couture Show (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

 

DO YOU THINK THE SONIA RYKIEL COLLECTION MERITS COUTURE STATUS? IF SO, WHY?

 

 

RESORT 2019 – What is Resort and Why?

Chanel Resort 2019 (Photo Courtesy of Accessories Magazine)

Chanel Resort 2019 (Photo Courtesy of Accessories Magazine)

Over the past several years, the fashion industry calendar has twisted into something beyond recognition. In today’s era of rampant consumption, social media and the internet, designers and brands can no longer rely on two show-seasons a year (Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter collections) to stay relevant. This has placed a tremendous burden on designers who have become increasingly stressed with the workload. Burn out and, in some cases, death (think Alexander McQueen and L’Wren Scott) can play a role.

Earlier this year, designer Alexander Wang announced that would not be showing his main Spring 2019 collection during Fashion Week (in  September) and instead, is choosing to show that collection during pre-collection season. Maybe Mr. Wang is on to something?

Ten plus years ago, Resort and Pre-fall collections were only shown to buyers and were basically a brand’s best-selling items, used as store fillers between seasons. Once brands decided to open the season to the press (WWD and Style.com were the first publications to fully cover pre-collections) the flood gates were opened!  Today, Resort shows start in early May and continue through the second week of June. Some designers and retailers think that the resort season has become almost as important as the Spring & Winter collection seasons.

Valentino (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Valentino (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

For Resort 2019, designers have made it a lot easier for the press, celebrities and buyers by choosing to show in fashion capitals. Chanel, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Gucci decided to show in France, while Valentino and Prada chose New York.

Gucci (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Gucci (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

 

LET’S LOOK AT THE HISTORY OF RESORT SEASON

While many fashion lovers enjoy the visual stimulation of Resort shows, many are in the dark about what this fashion season truly means and why it exists. So, here’s a brief history:

A Cruise or Resort collection (also referred to as a Holiday or Travel collection) is an inter-season or pre-season line of ready-to-wear clothing produced by a brand, in addition to their recurrent twice-yearly seasonal collections – Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter, shown during major fashion weeks in New York, London, Paris and Milan.

Cruise collections were originally targeted to wealthy customers or  seasoned jet-setters, cruising or vacationing in the warm Mediterranean sun during the winter months. Cruise collections usually consist of light spring or summer clothing, when weather at the points of sale actually calls for winter apparel. However, today, Resort/Cruise collections are targeted to consumers who have finished buying their fall wardrobes (ideally) and are looking ahead for something new. Resort collections range from warm weather looks, such as pretty sundresses and swimsuits, to winter looks, like fur coats and cozy sweaters (perfect for that Aspen getaway).

In the past, only high end houses like Chanel, Christian Dior, Gucci, Prada, Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs produced resort collections. But thanks to consumers who are always looking for something new, now almost every brand creates a resort delivery (November delivery), from Michelle Smith for her label Milly to Tory Burch.

Tory Burch (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Tory Burch (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Resort is also an opportunity to satisfy the generation of consumers who travel all the time. It also answers the climate change dilemma where these days, in many parts of the world, there is little to no winter. Additionally, thanks to online shopping, brands at every price-point have global customers. Some of the biggest spenders are in the ever-important Asian, Arab, and Russian markets. For major brands, the resort delivery is a commercial necessity.

Resort collections are available for consumer purchase in November and perfect timing for Holiday shopping. While Resort is an extra opportunity for brands to make money, it has become an incredibly important season for those brick & mortar retailers who are struggling with how to lure customers back to shopping in stores. Unlike Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter collections, Resort remains on the sales floor the longest (Spring merchandise arrives February) before hitting the sale rack, which makes it the most profitable season for most brands. Not  a lot of mark downs.

So, let’s take a look at some Resort collections from the start of this season:

Gucci (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Gucci (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Roberto Cavalli (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Roberto Cavalli (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Prada (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Prada (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Jil Sander (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Jil Sander (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

 

Chanel (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Chanel (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Burberry (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Burberry (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Valentino (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Valentino (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Givenchy (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Givenchy (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Christian Dior (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Christian Dior (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Louis Vuitton (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Louis Vuitton (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Oscar de la Renta (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Oscar de la Renta (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

DO YOU BELIEVE DESIGNERS ARE BURNING OUT BY CREATING FOUR COLLECTIONS A YEAR?

The Final Stretch – Paris Fall 2018 Fashion Week- Part 1

- - Fashion Shows

 

Eiffel Tower (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Eiffel Tower (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

After a long fashion show season, fashionistas can breathe, we are now in the final stretch of the fall 2018 collections. As editors, models, buyers and fashion insiders arrived in the City of Light on Tuesday morning, they were greeted with extremely cold temperatures and a little snow, but everyone was happy because the shows were on fire!

While Paris Fashion Week is still going strong, here is a look at the excitement of the first half of the week:

Christian Dior

Christian Dior Fall 2018 (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Christian Dior Fall 2018 (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Are you up for a protest? Well Maria Grazia Chiuri sure is, as her fall runway collection was inspired by France’s student protest of 1968. Chiuri has become French fashion’s voice of female empowerment and a champion for women everywhere. For her latest collection, Chiuri struck a chord! She filled her runway venue with protest art from the 60s, which seemed quite relevant given the ongoing protests against NRA-beholden politicians in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting and student-led anti-gun movement. Let’s give a shout-out to these young people who are making their voices heard and who are planning a nationwide ‘March For Our Lives’ gun-control rally scheduled for March 24th.

Christian Dior Fall 2018 (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Christian Dior Fall 2018 (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Inspired by the late Sixties, Chiuri played with crochets, embroideries and plenty of patchwork – but all with a refined hand; after all, this is the House Of Dior.

 

Saint Laurent

Saint Laurent  Fall 2018 (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Saint Laurent Fall 2018 (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Sex sells, and no one does it sexy better than Anthony Vaccarello. The young designer’s Saint Laurent show was full of energy and excitement, as he built a stadium-size box, slap-bang opposite the Eiffel Tower.  The venue was a spectacle with dazzling lights filling the space. The clothes were just as wonderful – a full-on Eighties spectacle with big-shouldered dresses and barely there shorts. The Saint Laurent girl better get her legs in shape this season!

 

Maison Margiela

Maison Msrgiela Fall 2018 (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Maison Margiela Fall 2018 (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Leave it to John Galliano to imagine the apocalypse and have his girls dressed for it in the coolest of ways. For his  collection at Maison Margiela, the designer piled on layers of every type of protective device. Case in point, techy plastics and shields over just about everything. Is this his reaction (solution?) to North Korea and Russia’s ramp-up of weapons of mass destruction and sarin gas that was used on the Syrian people? Maybe.

 

Dries Van Noten

Dries Van Noten Fall 2018 (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Dries Van Noten Fall 2018 (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

On a lighter note, Dries Van Noten, known for his beautiful and creative mix of prints and color, did not disappoint for his fall collection. While American designers were preoccupied with the 80s, Van Noten served up plenty of Seventies-inspired psychedelic references. Makes you want to contemplate the Bob Dylan song, My Back Pages (make famous by the Byrds in the late 60s) with the lyric: “Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”

 Chloé

Chloe Fall 2018 (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Chloe Fall 2018 (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

It may only be her second season designing under the Chloé label, but Natacha Ramsay-Levi has already established a cult following. Inspired by the 1970’s and actresses of that time-period, such as Anjelica Huston, Sissy Spacek, Isabelle Huppert, and Stéphane Audran, Levi showed plenty of skin-baring openings, open V-neck blouses and sexy cut-out dresses, showing just the right amount of flesh.

 

Hi And Bye

Riccardo Tisci (Courtesy Photo)

Riccardo Tisci (Courtesy Photo)

In other news, Burberry has tapped Riccardo Tisci as Chief Creative Officer, replacing 17-year Burberry veteran Christopher Bailey , one of the founders of the ‘see-now-buy-now’ and ‘direct-to-consumer’ movements and the creator of the newly revised iconic Burberry plaid, adding rainbow stripes for LGBTQ. Congratulations to Tisci as he begins his new role on March 12th.

Tell us, which shows were your favs and why and what role you think designers should play (as have athletes and actors) in making the world a better place?

IS COUTURE RELEVANT IN TODAY’S WORLD?

COUTURE SPRING 2018
Chanel's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Chanel’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Fanciful, exquisite, luxurious, unique, all these adjectives come to mind when one thinks about the exclusive world of Haute Couture. While the spring 2018 couture shows in Paris have recently come to an end, we can all expect to see plenty of these dramatic, breathtaking creations on the Red Carpet on Oscar night. But the question remains, is couture relevant in today’s world?

By definition, Haute Couture is the French word for “high sewing,” “high dressmaking” or “high fashion”; it is the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing. These one-of-a-kind creations are constructed by hand from start to finish by the most experienced and talented sewers, known in the biz as les petite mains. Check out the movie Phantom Thread to get a sense of how hard and talented these ‘golden hands’ work to create  magic, often on the most severest of deadlines. The fabrics used are the most luxurious and expensive textiles created. All of the beading and embroidery in couture are not only sewn by hand but take weeks and months to execute.

One cannot walk into a store and purchase haute couture. These unique pieces are created for the client and specifically tailored to her body. Considering the amount of time, money, and skill needed to create one piece, haute couture can only be purchased by the wealthiest of clients. Generally, there is no price tag when it comes to couture and the saying goes…”that if you have to ask the price, well then…you can’t afford it.”

The pre-history of couture dates back to the 17th century, when Rose Bertin, the first known designer, dressed Queen Marie Antoinette. But it would be Englishman Charles Frederick Worth who would receive the honor as the  ‘Father of Couture.’ In 1856, Worth and his future wife, Marie Vernet, opened the House of Worth, in Paris. As his muse, Marie attracted the attention of the French aristocracy and in 1860, Worth became the official court couturier under Empress Eugénie. Up until that time, stylish women would visit Paris and bring back clothing that was then copied by their local dressmakers. Worth was the first designer who would not let his customers dictate design, which had been the practice until then. Rather, he was the first to design and display, via a “fashion show” on live models, his own creations for women to choose from, four times a year. He would only allow the client to select the style, fabrics and trim.

In 1868, La Chambre Syndicale de la confection et de la couture pour dames et fillettes was founded by Charles Frederick Worth to organize Parisian design houses. The name was changed in 1910 to Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Parisienne, to more accurately define the organization’s haute couture relevance and in 1973, the name was again changed to Fédération Française de la Couture.  Couture such as Callot Soeurs, Patou, Poiret, Vionnet, Fortuny, Lanvin, Chanel, Mainbocher, Schiaparelli, Balenciaga, and Dior followed Worth. Some houses are still in existence today, in fact, Lanvin is the oldest!

Marie Antoinette (Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Magazine)

Marie Antoinette (Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Magazine)

 

After World War II, rules were implemented to prevent misuse of the name Haute Couture, and to outline certain criteria with regard to creativity, design, quality, and reproduction.  The term Haute Couture is legally protected — and fashion houses are granted the designation by the French Ministry of Industry. Originally, the number of required looks per collection was 50, but in 1992, it was cut in half. Then, in 2001, the goalposts shifted again, to introduce a qualitative assessment from the Fédération.  Only designers who fit their strict requirements are invited to present during the couture shows in Paris in January and in July. To become accepted, you have to play by the rules, and there are many, including that a label needs to produce at least 25 outfits per season and maintain a workroom in Paris.

 

Christian Dior fitting a client in the 1950's

Christian Dior fitting a client in the 1950’s

By the late 20th century, designers such as Christian Lacroix, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Theirry Mugler started their own couture houses, but due to the high expense of producing these collections, Lacroix and Mugler dropped their couture collection.

In today’s fast-paced, fast-fashion oriented world, where such a small percentage of the population has the wealth to buy Haute Couture, how do these houses survive? The answer is….luxury shoes & handbags, fragrances and cosmetics! While it once was true that the couture was a way for designers to try out new ideas, today couture shows serve as a vehicle for brand marketing and publicity. Yes, it’s true, some of these clothes are ordered by a small number of wealthy women or loaned to celebs for a walk on the Red Carpet, but by and large, it’s about brand-building. Those who can’t afford the hefty price tag of a couture gown, can purchase ‘a piece of the dream’ via a couture houses’s perfume, lipstick, ready-to-wear, shoes and bags.

 

Let’s take a look of some of those ‘dreamy looks’

 

 Armani Privé

Armani Privé's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Armani Privé’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Armani Privé's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Armani Privé’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Chanel

Chanel's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Chanel’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Chanel's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Chanel’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Christian Dior

Christian Dior's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Christian Dior’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Christian Dior's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Christian Dior’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Giambattista Valli

Giambattista Valli's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Giambattista Valli’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Giambattista Valli's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Giambattista Valli’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Givenchy

Givenchy's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Givenchy’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Givenchy's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Givenchy’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Jean Paul Gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Jean Paul Gaultier’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Jean Paul Gaultier's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Jean Paul Gaultier’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Valentino

Valentino's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Valentino’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Valentino's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Valentino’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Let us know your thoughts, do you believe couture is relevant in modern day society?

And the Winners Are……

- - Fashion Events
Adwoa Aboah, Model of the Year (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Adwoa Aboah, Model of the Year (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

On Monday, December 4th, the biggest names in the fashion industry – from Donatella Versace to Stella McCartney – partied it up with lovely Hollywood entertainers – like Selina Gomez and Pink – as well as fashion-loving socialites – Lady Amelia Windsor was one of the best dressed of the evening – for England’s biggest fashion event of the year, the British Fashion Council’s annual Fashion Awards (formerly known as the British Fashion Awards).  In partnership with Swarovksi, the 2017 British Fashion Council’s Fashion Awards ceremony took place at London’s famous Royal Albert Hall and the crowd looked fabulous.

Karlie Kloss in Vivienne Westwood Couture (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Karlie Kloss in Vivienne Westwood Couture (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Rita Ora in Versace (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Rita Ora in Versace (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

 

Kaia Gerber in Ralph & Russo (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Kaia Gerber in Ralph & Russo (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Selena Gomez in Coach (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Selena Gomez in Coach (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

The star-studded red carpet commanded much attention with fashion royalty and A-listers such as Naomi Campbell, Alexa Chung, Karlie Kloss, Kaia Gerber, Rita Ora, Zendaya and many more beauties; but not even such star-power wattage took away from the event’s purpose, to honor the best and brightest in fashion.

Nominees for the 2017 Fashion Awards were “chosen from hundreds of international names and they represent the most creative talent and innovative businesses of the year” said Natalie Massenet, the British Fashion Council Chairman, in a statement she released to the press this past October (2017).

Natalie Massenet (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Natalie Massenet (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

The evening was filled with plenty of emotional and touching moments as fashion’s finest paid tribute to industry veterans as well as the stars of the future. Christian Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri acknowledged the late Editor-In-Chief of Italian Vogue Franca Sozzani, while Naomi Campbell and a gaggle of models presented a powerful message that while Azzedine Alaïa might have passed away, his legacy will live on.

The British Fashion Council has a history of helping and supporting talented designers. According to Francesca Sterlacci, the Founder and CEO of University of Fashion and the author of The Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry, the British Fashion Council (BFC) was founded in 1983 and was borne out of the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers which was disbanded in the 1970s. The BFC is a nonprofit limited company that is financed by industry sponsors. In 1989 the BFC created the British Fashion Awards, to honor those who have made a major contribution to fashion industry throughout the year. The BFC also created New Generation (NEWGEN) in 1993, one of the most internationally recognized talent identification initiatives that continue to showcase and promote new designer businesses. Since 2001, the initiative has been sponsored by retailer Topshop and has been pivotal in nurturing emerging London talent. Designers that have been promoted as part of NEWGEN are, Alexander McQueen, Boudicca, Matthew Williamson, Julien Macdonald and more recently Christopher Kane, Marios Schwab, Richard Nicoll, Erdem, Mary Katrantzou, Meadham Kirchhoff, Simone Rocha, J.W. Anderson and Christopher Raeburn. Also initiated in 1993 was the Colleges Council, which provides opportunities for students to become involved in the industry through various activities including events, seminars and competitions.

In 2008, the London Fashion Showcasing Fund was created to support London Fashion Week. The BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund (The Fund) was launched by BFC Chairman Harold Tillman in September 2008 as part of the BFC’s 25th anniversary celebrations. The Fund is supported by Burberry, Debenhams, Harrods, Paul Smith, Topshop and Vogue.

Today, ( in 2017) the British Fashion Council has been focusing on its Positive Fashion initiative, which is a platform designed to create positive change in the industry through Sustainability: Origins & Ethics, Going Green, Fairtrade & Environmental Health; Model Health & Diversity: Education, Communication & Equality; and Local Manufacturing & Craftsmanship.

Here are the winners of the fashion industry’s biggest achievers according to the British Fashion Council:

Model of the Year: Adwoa Aboah

Urban Luxe Brand: Virgil Abloh for Off-White

Business Leader: Marco Bizzarri for Gucci

British Emerging Talent — Menswear: Charles Jeffrey for Charles Jeffrey Loverboy

British Emerging Talent — Womenswear: Michael Halpern for Halpern

British Designer of the Year — Menswear: Craig Green for Craig Green

British Designer of the Year — Womenswear: Jonathan Anderson for JW Anderson

Accessories Designer of the Year: Jonathan Anderson for Loewe

Designer of the Year: Raf Simons for Calvin Klein

Swarovski Award for Positive Change: Maria Grazia Chiuri for Dior

Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator: Pat McGrath

Outstanding Contribution to British Fashion Award: Christopher Bailey

Special Recognition Award for Innovation: Stella McCartney

Fashion Icon Award: Donatella Versace & House of Versace

British Designer of the Year - Womenswear Jonathan Anderson for JW Anderson (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

British Designer of the Year – Womenswear Jonathan Anderson for JW Anderson
(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Special Recognition Award for Innovation: Stella McCartney (Photo courtesy of  Getty Images)

Special Recognition Award for Innovation: Stella McCartney (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Fashion Icon Award: Donatella Versace & House of Versace (Photo courtesy of  Getty Images)

Fashion Icon Award: Donatella Versace & House of Versace (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

 

Do you agree with the winners nominated by The British Fashion Council? Let us know your choices.

 

 

Paris Fashion Week: From Glam and Glitz to Avant-Garde

- - Fashion Shows, Trends

PARIS FASHION WEEK

Saint Laurent Runway : The Eiffel Tower  (Photo Courtesy of  Vogue.Com)

Saint Laurent Runway : The Eiffel Tower (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

The spring 2018 fashion shows have been a long haul, but there were so many inspiring moments from Ralph Lauren’s show in his exotic car garage in Bedford, N.Y. to Donatella Versace’s tribute to Gianni; who can ever forget the images all over Instagram with his supermodels (Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Helena Christensen and Carla Bruni) all on stage in golden gowns – it was an emotional moment for many in the industry. Now we reach the final stretch, Paris, the fashion capital of the world. Paris shows are not over yet, but here are some of the highlights of the week so far, from political messages to over-the-top glamour.

EMPOWERING WOMEN

It’s clear that Maria Grazia Chiuri, the first female Creative Director for Christian Dior, is using the label as a platform to empower women. Who can forget her “We Should All Be Feminists” t-shirts. Every Instagram and street style star wore them. For spring, Chiuri uses the runway to let us ponder another thought “Why Have There Been No Great Woman Artists?” This question was emblazoned on a striped marinière sweater. The question is the title of art historian Linda Nochlin’s 1971 essay that explores the topic of feminist art history; historically, woman have had a difficult time achieving success in the arts. Chiuri’s Dior is a new Dior. Gone are the pastel colored, ladies-who-lunch suits. It’s clear that Chiuri is focusing on the millennials with looks that ranged from 70’s patchwork jeans to leather jumpsuits. For evening, she showed an assortment of sheer, sparkly, glitter mini dresses in every color under the rainbow – all complete with low block heeled mesh knee high boots. It’s refreshing to see a designer put out a positive message that she really does believe in.

Christian Dior  (Photo Courtesy of  Vogue.Com)

Christian Dior (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

THE NEW CHLOE-GIRL

There’s a new Chloe Girl in town…..Natacha Ramsay-Levi just presented her first collectionas the creative director for Chloé  to rave reviews. Although this is her first moment in the spotlight, Ramsay-Levi is well-known within French fashion circles; she worked at both Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton under Nicolas Ghesquière. Ramsay-Levi looked to the entire history of the house and gave a nod to each of her predecessors. The hand-painted cotton dresses were inspired by Lagerfeld’s time at the House. McCartney and Philo both liked horses, and Ramsay-Levi embroidered the motif on trim velvet tailoring. A floaty micro-floral dress was inspired by Waight. But there was a lot of Ramsay-Levi infused as well, such as the tailored leather outerwear and skinny cropped jeans.

Chloe  (Photo Courtesy of  Vogue.Com)

Chloe (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

GLITZ AND GLAMOUR

Anthony Vaccarello is paying tribute to the city of lights and to Mr. Yves Saint Laurent himself. The epic show was held outdoors, on a balmy night, with the Eiffel Tower sparkling in the background. Hundreds of spectators—the public and professionals—looked on, held in the awestruck moment. Vaccarello’s Saint Laurent girl wants to have fun, there were fanciful feathers, flirty glitter, and plenty of jaw-dropping boots. But the night was bittersweet for the house of Saint Laurent as Pierre Bergé passed away earlier this month. Vacarello started the show with hippie inspired looks that had a Moroccan feel,  it was a throwback to Yves Saint Laurant  and his love of Marrakech. There were floating, billowy-sleeved silk blouses, gold-coin–dot printed tulle tops, sparkling sequined dresses, bubbled frocks and fanciful ostrich feathers, all of it paired with the shortest of shorts and miniskirts and let’s not forget the over-the-top boots. This bold collection was sexy and confident!

Although the world is on edge today, with politics, threats of terrorists attacks and war, that didn’t reflect in many collections in Paris, there was a refreshing air of glitz and glamour; lighting the way for hopefulness and fun. Such collections included Balmain, Maison Margiela, Altuzarra and Dries Van Noten.

Saint Laurent  (Photo Courtesy of  Vogue.Com)

Saint Laurent (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Balmain  (Photo Courtesy of  Vogue.Com)

Balmain (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Dries Van Noten (Photo Courtesy of  Vogue.Com)

Dries Van Noten (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Maison Margiela  (Photo Courtesy of  Vogue.Com)

Maison Margiela (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Altuzarra  (Photo Courtesy of  Vogue.Com)

Altuzarra (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

EIGHTIES ARE BACK

A throwback to the Eighties was a continuing theme that made its way to Paris. Virgil Abloh, the designer behind the cult label Off-White, was inspired by Princess Diana as “the people’s princess.” Marking the 20-year anniversary of her tragic death, Abloh payed homage to the fashion icon, most notably with his farewell to streetwear and opted for a feminine collection filled with tulle and flounce. But Naomi Campbell stole the show – with her regal strut – wearing an asymmetrically flounced white jacket and cycle shorts quite the twist on eveningwear.

Isabel Marant and Mugler also gave a nod to the Eighties this season.

Off-White  (Photo Courtesy of  Vogue.Com)

Off-White (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Isabel Marant  (Photo Courtesy of  Vogue.Com)

Isabel Marant (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Mugler  (Photo Courtesy of  Vogue.Com)

Mugler (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

THE INDIVIDUALISTS

Sure they may not be mainstream designers, but you have to give credit to those designers who season after season march to their own beat. Such avante-garde designers include Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons, Jun Takahashi for Undercover, Junya Watanabe, Yohji Yamamoto and Rick Owens.

Comme des Garçons (Photo Courtesy of  Vogue.Com)

Comme des Garçons (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Undercover  (Photo Courtesy of  Vogue.Com)

Undercover (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Junya Watanabe (Photo Courtesy of  Vogue.Com)

Junya Watanabe (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Yohji Yamamoto  (Photo Courtesy of  Vogue.Com)

Yohji Yamamoto (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Rick Owens  (Photo Courtesy of  Vogue.Com)

Rick Owens (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)