Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Best of Womenswear FW 06/07

Fashion week is over, the catwalk dust has settled, the emotions subsided, and after initial wows and eewws, I have analyzed and picked my favorites -- so let me know what you think and feel free post your favorites.

For me the real fashion week starts and ends in Paris. There maybe an exception here and there, but as a rule, New York is safe and bland, London is always almost but never quite there, and Milan is a decadent hooker with too much coke up her nose. Paris is creative, romantic, edgy and beautiful. To be sure, most designers who show in Paris are not French, but, c’est la vie.

This season was an interesting one. The reason I choose the word interesting is because for me it had as many absolutely fantastic shows as it had disappointments. Some of my favorites flopped. Yohji Yamamoto gave up on the female form altogether – whereas before he produced amazing creations that were voluminous, but retained a body contour, this time he sent out a series of potato sacks. Rick Owens is beginning to make me believe that he is a one trick pony – I LOVE what the guy does, but will he ever progress (he seemed to in his menswear)? Olivier Theyskens sent a series of sportswear for Rochas in some bland-looking fabric – is this the Rochas we know and love? Undercover wrapped those poor models in some fabric that looked simply amateurish. Yet, McQueen, Ann Demeulemeester, and Hussein Chalayan produced absolutely stellar collections. So, there was a bit of ambiguity, ambivalence, and dichotomy in my reactions, but that is what makes things interesting, isn’t it?

1. Ann Demeulemeester – what can I say? Ann never fails my expectations. For this collection she has retained her signature silhouette, flowing, nonchalant, yet flattering, elongated, and absolutely, gorgeously feminine. She moved away from the straps and buckles that dominated the past few seasons, which is fine by me – I love either-or. I am grateful that, unlike for her menswear, she retained the romantic, yet assertive mood. Joan of Arc? I’ll take two.

2. Alexander McQueen – the eagle has landed, both figuratively and almost literally (judging by those headpieces)! I am glad that McQueen is back to basics, so to speak. His staggering talent has always amazed me. For years, he, Junya Watanabe, and Hussein Chalayn rotate the crown of the most talented and innovative designer – and this season Lee takes the cake.

3. Hussein Chalayan – ah, yes, the unsung genius of fashion. The one who pushes and pushes the boundaries and relentlessly innovates. Another fantastic collection, absolutely easy without being simple. The garment construction looks top notch. I can’t wait to see this in stores.

4. Junya Watanabe – punk is dead. Punk is so dead that you can buy it on every corner. Punk has been swallowed up and vomited out by the very culture it opposed. Who gets the last laugh? Certainly not the rich kids that buy their expensive punk gear on St. Marks and pay $50 for Rancid tickets. Punk is so dead, that these days if you want to do it in fashion YET again, you better be damn talented. You better produce a collection that is so impeccably and complexly constructed that it will FORCE the spectator to look at the clothes, and not laugh at the theme. Who else, but Junya?

5. Neil Barrett – surprise, surprise. Actually he was a runner up. My number 5 spot originally went to Bruno Pieters, but due to technical difficulties, I can’t find any pictures. Back to Neil – how often does it happen that a menswear designer starts doing better clothes for women? I like his masculine on feminine adaptation. No fuss, just beautiful, flattering clothes. And let’s face it, a skinny pant suit looks so much better on a woman (unless you are into Berlin rent boys that is…)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Best of Menswear F/W 06-07

The menswear shows ended a couple of weeks ago, and it is time to choose some favorites. This season had the fewest surprises for me - pretty much all designers I revere produced excellent collections. I haven't seen some collections yet, such as Carol Christian Poell and Carpe Diem - but that is simply impossible, unless you are a buyer. So, I will wait until their clothes gets to stores. Anyway, here are my picks;

1. Raf Simons. Finally!!! I have been waiting and waiting for Raf to get back to his roots, and he produced an absolutely stellar, perfectly tailored collection. While I understood Rafs explorations of the youth culture and such, I have always felt that it was missing his incredible cutting skills, and his austure, yet innovative tailoring that dominated his late 90's collections and made him one of my favorites. This collection marks this return. Yet, it is not a complete return - that would be boring. There are plenty new interesting garments (notice the two-piece coat and the double-collared one). Perfect all around.

2. Number (N)ine. This was definitely the biggest surprise. I am not a fan of N(N) in general. I think Taka is more of a stylist, not a designer. Last season's horrendous Axl Rose show was the biggest proof of that... and so was this as a matter of fact. It was very derivative - you could see Raf Simons, early Dior Homme, and even Cloak in it. Yet, what made it attractive to me, and put it so high up on this list is how incredibly well executed it was. I could see myself in almost every garment from the show.

3. Rick Owens. I liked this show, because it was a bit of a progress for Rick, who is often accused (and sometimes rightfully so) of being a one-trick (the trick being the draping, and the earthly colors) pony. I liked the oversized coats with pinched shoulders - a definite step forward. If the fabrics in this collection are as exquisite as they usually are - this is a winner.

4. Ann Demeulemeester. My fashion love has toned it down a little ever since she started a stand-alone mens show. And maybe it's a good thing and a sign of progress. I do feel a tiny feeling of disappointment, as I am used to Ann's romantic, yet very confident tone. She retained it with the womenswear this season (the women's review to come in my next entry), but not with the menswear. However, the romantic part is still definitely there, and there are plenty of beautiful pieces. And she put her good friend and source of inspiration - Patty Smith - on the runway. How cool is that?!

5. Cloak. I got to go this show, and the atmosphere inside was fantastic. I love seeing a lot of people in one place who share a similar aesthetic, because I always hope that behind sharing an aesthetic, there are deeper cultural similarities. The clothes themselves were also less agressive then in the previous season, but the tailoring and a decisively masculine aspect is still there.

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