When the models began to take their complex turns at the Givenchy show on Sunday night, whizzing around the venue as if ricocheting around a pinball machine (the hairpin bends, I must confess, made me feel a bit sick), the first thing I thought was: well. It’s been a while since we saw this.
This being sex. Or rather, sexy. or rather, a certain idea of sexiness. “I would be a very rich man if I could make sexy clothes,” said Gianni Versace in 1997, in one of his final interviews. Which, from the long-acknowledged Italian master of dressing to undress, speaks volumes. Namely it poses the question, what is sexy in clothing?
Two of the most satisfying shows of the current Paris season showed nothing anyone would ever want to wear. No great loss. And no insult, or injury.
That was the point, in fact, of both Rei Kawakubo’s Comme des Garçons collection and Jean Paul Gaultier’s final ready-to-wear show. Nevertheless, they could not have been more different: something old, versus something new. Looking forward, and looking back.
Two of the designers I find myself thinking about the most are Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff. Their show last Tuesday ended London Fashion Week, for me at least, and heading into Milan, seated in plush showrooms and watching so much money and so many tired ideas swan by so pointlessly, it was something that niggled at the back of my mind.
Designer doppelgängers, and the wonder of weariness: Versace, Emilio Pucci and Bottega Veneta in Milan.
Designer identity is a big thing in Milan. Here, they’re practically rock stars, their lives and collections dissected with fervid, sometimes morbid curiosity. Earlier this month, the Corriere della Sera newspaper published a letter from Stefano Gabbana to Domenico Dolce professing his love.
Time is something I’ve been thinking an awful lot about during the London leg of the spring/summer 2015 collections.
Actually, that’s a lie. Because there’s no time to think. Or to eat, breathe, go to the toilet. Those kind of things. It makes you long, a little, for New York, for the wide open spaces of their fashion week calendar (at least, my fashion week calendar). In London, every hour, on the hour, there’s something to see.
I often wonder what people really want from Victoria Beckham’s label. In fact, that’s rubbish. I know exactly what they want. Shall we be blunt? They want her to fall spectacularly, sensationally flat on her face. They’ve been wanting her to do it since day one, because Beckham has it all and the fashion world loves a bit of schadenfreude.
New York Fashion Week is a nice way to start the season, for very cynical reasons. There are lots of shows, and few new ideas. You get plenty of reflections of the season just passed – especially at the very start of a “week” where, in all honesty, we could be done, packed, and back across the Atlantic in four days if we shunted most of the chaff off the schedule.
Fashion isn’t a house of cards – where one ill-judged manoeuvre brings the whole thing tumbling down – but rather a game of Kerplunk!. Meaning, if you twiddle the wrong bit, it makes a lot of noise and you lose a few of your marbles, but the whole thing doesn’t crash to the ground.
That’s what occurred to me when news broke today of Christophe Lemaire’s mutual parting of ways with the French luxury juggernaut Hermès.
A little bit of history repeating: something old makes something new, at Raf Simons’ Dior and Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel
The much-vaunted and oft-debated “point” of haute couture is tied up in history. Haute couture is living history, less a retrograde throwback and more a direct link to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The latter was when “haute couture” as a term was officially incorporated by Charles Frederick Worth, couturier to Empress Eugenie and most of her court; the former was when the idea of a fashion dictator was pioneered by the first celebrity dress designer, Marie Antoinette’s “Minister of Fashion” Rose Bertin. Those are some heavy antecedents, but they’re ones couturiers often bank on. Buying haute couture is a bit like buying a stake in a past you can never be part of.
Chinese Whispers at Versace, Frankenstein’s Monster at Schiaparelli. Haute couture autumn/winter 2014
I’m sure I’ve talked about the importance of individuality in haute couture before. It’s the raison d’être for the thing – couture clothes are complete one-offs, made to the specific measurements and requirements of incredibly wealthy and demanding women. Those demanding women come in all shapes and sizes, with different tastes.
They always have. While haute couture once set the trends – there’s an exhibition about to be launched at Paris’ Musée Galliera titled “Les Années 50, La Mode en France 1947-1957″, which lauds that golden age – it still had room for disparate voices. Balenciaga showed his unfitted suits when Dior-influenced cinched waists were at their tightest. Chanel, Schiaparelli and Vionnet had violently opposed views of dressing women, but they co-existed, and thrived.
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter