As you hurtle around Paris, there are a multitude of advertisements for Jonathan Anderson’s latest Loewe collection. I began to notice them – with their monumental Meisel images of Raquel Zimmermann awash with pastels – as soon as I left the Eurostar. I’m not sure what they cost, all those hoardings. But they’re doing their job. It made me think a lot about Loewe, about what Anderson is doing there, and how it’s making everything else look old.
Access all areas: New York’s new luxury, from Coach, Michael Kors, Oscar de la Renta. And, oh, Kanye West
Accessible fashion. It means different things to different people – simplified design, clothes everyday people can wear everyday, and can afford, too. It probably helps if you can get in to see the damn things, which was my issue with the mob scene outside of Kanye West’s Yeezy show, the usual squabbling scrum of press, buyers and incessantly snapping street style photographers augmented by fans of the various celebrities reputed to be turning up, and said celebrities’ security cliques. Is this worth it, I asked myself, someone’s elbow in my ribs and someone else’s in an eye. Probably not.
The consistent and the insistent: Thom Browne, Hood by Air, Diane von Furstenberg and Altuzarra, in New York
The inconsistency of New York infuriates some. I find it quite energising. It’s difficult to write off any designer on the New York schedule – you never know when they’re going to pull it out of the bag. Of course, there are a few constants. Shayne Oliver, a relatively recent addition, will challenge convention; the sickly cyclamen and Buck’s Fizz yellow kaftans of Diane von Furstenberg will not.
The moon hit your eye like a big pizza pie, as they say, at the Villa Aurelia in Rome. It wasn’t amore though, it was Valentino. They were throwing a post-show, post-watershed shindig to celebrate their autumn/winter 2015 haute couture collection, which they’d uprooted from Paris to present in the Italian capital of alta moda. Why? Why not?
Identity is important in fashion – especially today, when there are so many clothes that all seem to look the same. The important thing for designers is distinguishing themselves and their wares from the rest of the flock.
So, no more Donna Karan. The company announced, via a press release on Tuesday night, that Karan herself would be leaving her current role as Chief Designer of the LVMH-operated brand that bears her full name, rather than just her initials. There will be no replacement: Donna Karan International will suspend its collections and catwalk shows (though not licenses). Who will fill Karan’s gaping slot on the calendar of New York Fashion Week? Well, someone already has, by default – there are about three simultaneous shows an hour on that sprawling schedule.
It’s fascinating that two of the most successful houses in contemporary men’s luxury are, possible, two of the most opposing: Givenchy and Hermes. There are similarities: neither are eager to change much, sticking to their established formulas and turning out collections that tick boxes, please the punters and rake in new devotees. But the latter has pitched itself as the epitome of luxury, appealing to a market so niche it’s barely a nick in the bedpost of modern menswear; whereas the former has the rag-bag quality of the mass. It’s like comparing a glass of Chateau d’Yquem 1789 to a glug from a bottle of the popular (and populist) British sparkling perry brand Lambrini. They’re different beasts, they appeal to different customers, but in the end they both just get you drunk.
Raf Simons is often eerily prescient. He couldn’t have known that truculent protestors would derail half the British press travelling to Paris on the day of his spring/summer 2016 show, by setting a fire at the French mouth of the Eurostar tunnel. Yet somehow, it fits. Simons clothes are about unrest. I don’t mean they’re physically uncomfortable, but they do have a sense of unease about them, even if its just in the watching. For spring, trousers swamped skinny legs with excess fabric, bodies were smothered in oversized coats peppered with buckshots of eyelets, and faces all but concealed by hoods tugged tight, pulled all the way down, in the fashion banned by many suburban shopping centres to avoid anti-social behaviour.
There’s still an odd, lingering Anglo Saxon puritanism, in Britain, where menswear is concerned. I couldn’t help but also notice the gangly unease with which the models in Topman Unique – the opening show of the four day London Collections Men calendar – gamboled down the catwalk, sinewy legs drowned in wide baggy trousers or sticking out of painfully abbreviated running shorts. They seemed a bit reticent, embarrassed even – which is sometimes the case with the menswear shows as a whole, lacking the confident swagger of the Milanese collections, for instance, which are set to begin on Saturday.
You know what I like about the pre-collections? Not the travelling (I’m lazy), nor the dinners (I’m anti-social), definitely not the jet-lag, frequently not the clothes – they’re often simple-minded, and, generally most aren’t any good from a critical standpoint. What I like though is the time. The time to look at said clothes, to ponder them, frequently to turn them inside out. The fact you get to step off the increasingly frenzied fashion treadmill and actually spent a chunk of your day thinking about what you’ve seen, rather than rushing to the next.
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