Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Naoki Takizawa Shines in New York

We live in unabashed world where sexuality has lost any kind of mystery. Sexual has become sexy, sexy has become raunchy, and sex itself has become pornography. Needless to say, fashion has had its part (special thanks goes to Tom Ford who glorified pornography on the Gucci runway). From Karl Lagerfeld's Catholic school plaid mini-skirts to Dolce & Gabbana's suggestive gang-rape and orgy ads, pornographic imagery in fashion never skips a beat, ranging from tasteless to downright offensive.

In this light, the Spring-Summer 08 collection by Naoki Takizawa, who has long stayed in the shadow as the head designer for Issey Miyake, is a breath of fresh air. Nay, it's a long overdue hurricane that blows lewdness away. This ethereal collection gives back sublimity to sexuality. It makes sexuality intriguing once again. Moreover and most importantly, it gives it respect. Mr. Takizawa presents a perfect balance of translucence and secretiveness in his semi sheer garments layered together, in the black and white, in the lengths and lightness of his garments.The stockings (leather?!) provide a bit of an armor that otherwise may have made his models look vulnerable.

The video of the collection further reveals the mastery of Mr. Takizawa. The confident and relaxed walk of the models and the light and airy movement of the clothes provides a perfect balance between a fairy tale and a real world. This balance is romance that has not been lost, but made contemporary.

This is an absolutely stunning collection, and I am thankful to Mr. Takizawa for showing it in New York, because it would make any Paris catwalk proud.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Subdued Elegance of Narciso Rodriguez

Talking about the New York Fashion Week is an exercise in political correctness. Everyone knows that in terms of creativity, it's much weaker than Milan and Paris, but because it's so financially powerful, everyone tiptoes around it. It's kind of like criticizing the American Vogue - one must ask oneself first if he is not committing an editorial suicide (witness Cathy Horyn's diplomatic dismantling of the September issue).

And yet, in between the bland sportswear and clownish outlandishness that passes for fashion at Bryant Park, there are gems to be discovered. Narciso Rodriguez's collection is one of them. His S/S 08 runway show is an exercise in subdued elegance. It is sophisticated and seemingly simple. Minimalist is the word - so be it. I am always on the fence about minimalist designers. Not that I need to see complicated work in order to be impressed - sometimes the purity of a graphic effect of a well executed minimalist black and white combo will strike me more. For example, Jil Sander's work at times has bored me to tears on the runway, only to overwhelm me with amazing fabrics and impeccable cutting in stores. It suited a young individual, one who operates in the adult world without necessary accepting it.

This is exactly the vibe I get from this collection by Mr. Rodriguez. It is everything the rest of the New York fashion week isn't - assuredly cool, and quiet. This confident quietness is very attractive. It is good to see a man who just a few months ago was about to close the doors of his company (thank you, Liz for bailing him out) produce such a solid collection. The proportions are perfect (except the more ballooning pieces), and the near-neutral color palette is well offset by a masterful use of contrast. Such a collection does not easily lend itself to labels. Minimalist? Maybe. Rock'n'roll, punk, rebel, James Dean, Sex Pistols, goth, glam, sex, bondage, street, surf, skateboard - it is not.

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