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The “Off season”: Cruising, Youtubing and the interesting boredom of Dior and Louis Vuitton

Alex Fury
Screen Shot 2014 04 25 at 22.33.31 201x300 The Off season: Cruising, Youtubing and the interesting boredom of Dior and Louis Vuitton

Side-by-side models in Raf Simons' winter 2014 Dior show

I bet people wonder what fashion editors do during the “off season”: write dodgy novels, maybe? Shop? Painstakingly plan ensembles to be crated and shipped ready for the next round of shows, when said eds are released from their pen, like the rabid hounds that shred unwanted visitors to Mr Burns’ mansion in The Simpsons? Only fashion editors voraciously attack and devour garments, and sometimes designers, rather than intruders.

Probably not. Well, maybe some do. I don’t.

What I actually find myself doing, a great deal, is watching and rewatching video footage of the season’s fashion shows. I’ve been especially enthralled in unpicking the winter collections again, Youtube my favourite aide memoire. The reasoning? I’ve forgotten most of the damn stuff. And, try as I might, I can’t pinpoint many key “trends”.

I hate trends. But they’re convenient tools for grouping together designers and dissecting the mood of the moment. Plus there’s no reason they have to be anodyne.

My favourite trend from spring is Cher: the sheer, spangly stuff and towering headpieces at Marc Jacobs’ Louis Vuitton (black) swansong being the most obvious incarnation, but there was something a bit Bob Mackie to the bead-bedecked frocks that closed Miu Miu, and to all that glitter at Tom Ford’s spring show.

Winter is a volte-face. The prevalent mood has been irritatingly dubbed “Normcore” by fashion watchers. Alternatively, you could stop being pretentious and just call it boring. There was plenty of boring stuff out there. But the best of the boring was intentionally anodyne. Ironically, that makes it interesting. It’s easy to attract attention when you’re wearing a Folies Bergère headpiece, less so in a brown coat. It’s not a face off between Vuitton old and new, but just as Marc Jacobs epitomised that Cher thing, so Nicolas Ghesquiere at Louis Vuitton produced the most interesting boring collection in Paris.

A nicer way to term this normal stuff than boring is New Pragmatism. A bit wanky, but not as bad as Normcore. The idea of New Pragmatism brings me to another winter show, that of Raf Simons for Dior. It was a show I left elated, and hence was confused when others didn’t seem to share my enthusiasm.

Screen Shot 2014 04 25 at 22.33.46 200x300 The Off season: Cruising, Youtubing and the interesting boredom of Dior and Louis Vuitton

Coats and suits at Dior

A few sniffed. “A bit Armani,” commented one hack to me. The implication there is that the models, walking grouped in twos or threes, had a certain naffness. Mr Armani presents his clothing like this, in manner not dissimilar to those shows he staged some twenty or thirty years ago. On a practical level, it enables him to show around 80 outfits per collection, vis-à-vis the 40-50 most designers plump for.

Nevertheless, I hasten to add that Armani not only dressed the world, but invented said way of dressing. Few designers – amongst whose hallowed ranks we can number Monsieur Dior himself – can claim to have done the same.

Perhaps Raf Simons was paying homage to Armani? Perhaps he’s hoping his legacy will be the same? Perhaps it was about injecting a dose of realism into this artificial world of fashion? It was certainly pragmatic fashion. There wasn’t a skirt you couldn’t move freely in, nor a suit you couldn’t walk easily in.

Like Simons’ January couture, there was a sense of modernity, and of movement. It even comes across on the Youtube clips with which this fashion editor occupies his ostensible “off season” – in actual fact waiting for the next true season to spring. Incidentally, it springs for me with Raf Simons’ 2015 Cruise show for Dior, presented on 7 May in the Navy Yard of Brooklyn, New York.

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