Yang Li autumn/winter 2014
Bonjour Paris! The shows so far have seen the return of some super luxe tailoring as every designer has sent out luxe coats in mannish shapes or oversized with rounded shoulders. Sporty coverups also abound, but are updated through couture fabrics and cuts. There has also been some innovative fabrics and textures while embellishments have been piled out but in an oh-so-chic way. Here’s a rundown of my favourite shows so far.
Beijing born Yang Li is the latest darling of the fashion world and we can see why. For his second runway show the designer added a romantic narrative to his usually sporty, minimalist style with a show inspired by the “dreamer” (the word appeared on badges on jackets throughout the collection). Razor sharp jackets were belted at the waist and often had asymmetric hems and zips. Other coats had big folds below the waist revealing a contrasting coloured lining. The silhouette below was all about volume as seen in the wide leg trousers or floor sweeping skirts. Everyone was obsessed with the fur belts backed with nappa leather.
Dries Van Noten
This is a big season for Dries Van Noten who recently opened his first full-scale exhibition in Paris at Musée des Arts Décoratifs. In light of this, one was expecting the designer to take us on a trip through his greatest hits. Instead we got an acid trip as he experimented with op-art prints inspired by 1960s artist Bridget Riley. Funky psychadelic swirls came printed on separates ranging from fluid cropped trousers to mannish coats and slouchy jumpers in colors like pink, yellow and green. Even his orange bomber jackets were rave worthy. He also played tricks on the eyes with surreal floral prints painted on a black dress in metallic silver paint, while 3D floral corsages came draped over the shoulders of jackets and dresses. There was still plenty of classic Dries, from the painterly florals to the sequins tops and dresses.
It is more than likely that the majority of pieces you see in a Gareth Pugh show you can’t actually wear in real life, but what’s fashion without some fantasy? Pugh’s winter white collection saw him experiment with technical materials such as metallic foil, iridescent pailettes and even plastic rubbish bags. The sculptural forms he created bordered on futuristic from the kimono sleeve belted jackets to the funnel neck tunics that stood away from the body over covered the face entirely. In contrast, sheer netting was swathed around the body like a cloud. It may have been Weird Science meets couture, but there were some beautiful tailored pieces in the mix.
Third time’s a charm. It may have taken some time but it finally feels like Alexander Wang has found his groove at Balenciaga. His autumn/winter 2014 collection was about developing innovative fabrics that helped elevate his urban separates to a couture level. There was an element of sophistication that pervaded the collection, even though there was a sporty vibe in the utilitarian zips that criss-crossed or contoured jackets, trousers and tops. A puffa jacket even came with satin lapels for an urban take on the tuxedo jacket. His fabrics however stole the show, from the latex coated cable knit jackets to the leather dress that morphed into wool at the waist. As for the accessories, forget the motorcrycle bag. Instead the Balenciaga girl will be carrying two to three shopping bags crafted from uber-luxe python and croc skin.
There was a sense of deja vous during the Rick Owens show until the audience realised that the designer was actually sending out each look three or four times in a row. Perhaps it was him lamenting on the uniformity of fashion (which may seem ironic considering that he has earned his keep from his leather jackets which are part of every editor’s daily uniform). Or maybe he’s hoping that next season they will adopt his comfy tunics and onesies instead. Worn by a cast of friends, staff and regular folk off the street, his offerings for autumn appeared simple but the devil was in the details. Some shapes were more structured than others and came with voluminous backs, while others featured funnel necks. Materials ranged from wool, sueded crocodile skin and panels of buttery leather to stiff silk shatung. As an alternative he offered fitted or oversized jackets with pleated panels. Everything was matched with zippered gloves and flat leather boots with white rubber platforms.
Alber Elbaz is a designer who knows his strengths, but it was refreshing to see him venture into new territory for autumn. His collection was all about Xtremes and Xtravagance (spelling intended) so he opened with fluffy tiered coats and skirts, thick tweed jackets with fringing and clingy knit dresses all in a monochrome palette. They may have recalled the work of Japanese designers like Junya Watanabe but the looks that followed were pure Alber. Exquisitely pleated leather dresses and flowing washed silk dresses in navy, light pink and teal were a lesson in refined elegance, their only decoration being thick metal chokers. As the show progressed he started to introduce embellishments first in the form of metal fringes which trimmed dresses and later through colour blocked silk threads of various lengths.