Last week, Linda Farrow fêted the official opening of their London flagship on Mayfair’s Mount Street with a swanky dinner at the seafood restaurant Scott’s. Scott’s – infamous as the crucible of Highella-gate, but also purveyor of posh nosh in fashionably undersized proportions – is situated directly across the street from Linda Farrow Gallery. Scott’s is flanked by Marc Jacobs, while the Linda Farrow boutique is adjacent to the expansive new Celine store and the double-frontage of Moynat, a 19th century luxury trunk manufacturer relaunched by LVMH in 2010. Down the street, a hoarding advertises the impending opening of a Roksanda Ilincic boutique. Christopher Kane is also set to open imminently. What is it that makes Mount Street so different, so appealing?
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk opens at London’s Barbican Art gallery this Wednesday, the latest stop in a blockbuster transatlantic tour. The retrospective exhibition has the magnitude of a pop concert staged by Madonna, or Kylie, or Gaga even. That’s no random smattering of stars: they’ve all been dressed by Gaultier, at one time or another.
I’m not overwhelmingly interested in celebrity dressing. Is anyone, really? The rounds of premieres, awards-shows and television appearances are relentless – every country has its own launch for a film, a television programme, a magazine, a cereal. And every launch has an outfit. Bar a few celebrities with emblematic style (Kate Moss) or hefty endorsement deals (Jennifer Lawrence in Dior, obviously), what they wear is mostly forgettable. Just like so much of fashion today is forgettable. There’s a surfeit of stuff. Most of it is anodyne, rehashed, dull and unnecessary. Why would I be interested in that?
Our spring/summer 2014 men’s fashion edition of The Independent magazine – published today – really began a year ago: on the first day of the Paris collections, in the Gagosian gallery in Le Bourget, on the very outskirts (and then some) of the city. Way out there, Raf Simons showed a menswear collection soundtracked and influenced by the late eighties/early nineties house music genre known as Gabba. The collection comprised of sportswear, but not as we’d seen it before: torsos elongated, shorts abbreviated and adidas trainers jacked up on ginormous platform soles like Michael Alig’s Club Kids.
Visibility and viability: Rihanna does Comme des Garçons, Céline challenges superficially and Chloe clumps along
Rihanna was sat front-row at Comme des Garçons on Saturday afternoon. I’m uncertain why she was there – it isn’t something I would normally mention, but the incongruity of such a high-profile attendee at Comme des Garçons, hitherto the bastion of intellectualism, of substance over mere style, bears comment. What did Rihanna make of it all? I didn’t ask because, frankly, I don’t care. Comme des Garçons isn’t about the flashy, slightly trashy circus of celebrity dressing. Hence, perhaps Rihanna’s presence was some form of artistic statement, a kind of installation or performance piece? I wondered if someone, somewhere was laughing at her. Or maybe, if even Comme counts the column inches. Visibility, in today’s fashion game, seems next to godliness.
We think of Dior as a house built on evening wear – the French call that flou, which, as the name implies, denotes garments with a sense of fluidity and lightness. Even if a Dior ball gown was anything else. But Dior’s most famous fashion image is of la Tailleur Bar. It’s one of those house codes that Raf Simons has been fixated on since he began redesigning Dior in 2012. Hence the fact the Bar suit’s jacket, the nip-waisted, thrust-hipped silhouette originally cut in tussore silk by Pierre Cardin (a tailor at Dior before setting up under his own steam) appears again and again, insistently, in his collections, cut in everything from grain de poudre to denim.
Paris fashion week is the great consolidator, the grounder of the fashion season. It rounds off the ideas we’ve seen emerging in the other three fashion capitals, adds a few more of its own and a distinctly Gallic flourish, and ties the whole thing up in a fancy, florid Frenchy bow. It adds the punctuation. It makes the whole thing make sense. It does usually at least. This season, however, Paris seems, somehow, subdued. It’s throwing up questions rather than answers, and bucking the trends. It’s an intriguing turn of events.
Following their occupation of Paris in 1940, the Nazis tried to move the couture industry lock, stock and stays to Berlin. The then-head of the Chambre Syndicale, the couturier Lucien Lelong, declared “You can impose what you will by force, but Paris’ haute couture is not transferrable… It exists in Paris or it does not exist at all.”
Fast fashion, lazy luxury and tenderness: From Milan, Moschino, Bottega Veneta, Versace and Jil Sander
Milan fashion week is sometimes a little bit like groundhog day. The same shows are staged in the same showrooms, at the same time, to the same audience. It’s all rather predictable.
Miuccia Prada is currently fixated on the performative aspect of fashion. Her latest collection was titled simply “Act II”. Or maybe it wasn’t a title, but more a statement of fact. It linked it immediately to the menswear show she presented in January, implying the two are part of a continuum. The clothes links it too, as did the presence of male and female models. That was an element many criticised in her menswear show, complaining there were too many female models in too much of her womenswear pre-collection. If they didn’t say it in print, they certainly expressed it verbally. I wonder if any of that reached the top of that Carsten Höller slide where Miuccia Prada’s office sits? If so, I suspect it would only have inclined her to add more male looks to her ostensibly all-woman show.
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