Saturday, 30 January 2010

Armani Privé Spring/Summer 2010 Haute Couture

Images from Style.com - click to see the entire collection.

Giorgio Armani's very sophisticated, very elegant, moon-inspired Spring 2010 Haute Couture collection.

In a slightly odd season for Haute Couture (what with the sad absence of Christian Lacroix from the schedule, the quite experimental collections from Valentino and Givenchy, and the fact that someone very influential – Suzy Menkes – finally told John Galliano that everyone’s bored with the constant nostalgia/period costume style of recent Dior Haute Couture), the one collection which was really my favourite was Armani Privé.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Armani, not least because my interest in fashion really began thanks to the absolutely incredible Armani retrospective exhibition* at the Royal Academy in 2003 which I saw, and my first forays into wearing ‘fashion’ came thanks to the oft-visited Armani Junior corner on the fourth floor of Harrods (!). As well as being an incredibly skilled designer and a total perfectionist, Armani is also a very sharp businessman, having developed a huge empire that covers everything from ready-to-wear to Armani Dolci chocolates to hotels, and he has made himself a great fortune in the process. The flip side of this, of course, is that for a lot of people the name ‘Armani’ doesn’t really connect with high fashion any more, and doesn’t even seem very relevant these days, not least because Armani doesn’t do ‘directional’ ready-to-wear collections (of the sort which magazine editorials tend to feature), and our thoughts are slightly dominated by the myriad offshoot brands (Emporio Armani, Armani Jeans, Armani Exchange…), and of course by the slightly crass advertising images of soccer stars in Armani underwear.

Still, it drives me mad when people say ‘what’s Armani doing showing couture, he’s such a commercial designer,’ because commercial side or not, Armani really is a very talented couture designer, constantly bringing modern twists to his ever classic, ever flattering, ever elegant aesthetic. Call me old fashioned or dull, but I’d much rather see this sort of Haute Couture collection, where old fashioned glamour and elegance are key, than the more experimental collections that Givenchy and Valentino showed. There is always a sort of classical modernity with Armani, though, which is what sets the collection apart from John Galliano’s camp romp through the Dior archives.**


* I must do a post with some scans from the book from that exhibition at some point. Sadly the book’s in London but I’m currently living it up in Oxford.

** I don’t really mean to criticise the other Haute Couture collections (indeed, considering the huge amount of effort that goes into them, making unqualified criticisms from behind a computer screen just seems wrong)… I still appreciate the technical brilliance, it’s just the aesthetic concepts of some appeal to me more than others.


Paris Men's Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2010

Apologies for the delay in posting this...prepare for a serious menswear overload:

Images from GQ.com - click to see entire collection.

Following two dubious seasons (dodgy neoprene, then really beautiful but distinctly ‘un-Raf’ tailoring), Raf Simons showed a very strong collection, which still had great suits (continuing his self-confessed shift towards designing for somewhat older men), but this time it was balanced out with more creative, more typical Raf like elements: the techno fabrics, the bold geometric shapes and strong lines, the play with silhouette and proportion. It all felt very crisp and modern, and although I don’t know if I’ll ever get as excited about any men’s collection as I did about Raf’s SS08 again, I really liked it.

Backstage image from Dazed Digital - click to see more.

Images from GQ.com - click to see entire collection.

Alber Elbaz and Lucas Ossendrijver showed an innovative collection at Lanvin, all cut very stylishly in luxurious fabrics, with several different silhouettes, and unexpected details, like thick suede straps fastened over suit jackets.

Images from GQ.com - click to see entire collection.

Very stylish and understated at Yves Saint Laurent, where Stefano Pilati continues to push a more generously cut, less ‘skinny boy’, silhouette. Notable absence of shawl collared, belted cardigans, that perennial YSL menswear staple…

Images from WWD - click to see entire collection.

I wish Balenciaga would do full men’s collections… there were just four looks this season, all of which looked very cool. The styling was really good… something like that shiny grey (leather?) jacket could easily look bad, but somehow it all worked well together.

Images from GQ.com - click to see entire collection.

I liked the golden thorn jewellery at Givenchy, but for me it was not enough to redeem Riccardo Tisci’s continued, irritating obsession with squeezing male models into leggings. This time they were accompanied by skirts too, but it all lacked the light touch and humour of Vivienne Westwood or Jean Paul Gaultier’s boys in skirts.

Images from GQ.com - click to see entire collection.

Probably the most interesting collection of the season came from Rick Owens. If there’s one collection where it’s really worth clicking through to GQ.com to see all the pictures, it’s this one, because the images I’ve selected hardly represent the collection as a whole. There were loads of really interesting cuts and silhouettes, a lot of it was quite androgynous (but in a very focused way that avoided all the usual clichés)… I’m actually having difficulty gathering my thoughts on this one, but I think I like it so much because it’s menswear which is experimental without looking ridiculous, which is always something of a rarity. There were some elements, like the snakeskin boots and liberal application of fur, which didn’t do much for me, but overall this collection was really very stylish. Love Rick’s crop of weird looking models too…like all the misfits from school who actually turn out to be really cool, when you finally realise how lame all the ‘popular’ people really were (ah, memories).

Backstage image from V Man - click to see more.

Images from GQ.com - click to see entire collection.

The stylish, if not particularly groundbreaking, collection from Kris Van Assche at Dior Homme was very strong on tailoring. I actually thought it was very well cut, with quite voluminous cuts and draping, while cleverly still feeling ‘slim’ at the same time. It’s clear that Dior Homme under Kris Van Assche is never going to be a ‘directional,’ trend-setting brand as the house was under Hedi Slimane, but this collection was strong – and much, much better than some of the recent KVA collections for the house.

Images from GQ.com - click to see entire collection.

Always enjoy Paul Smith’s immaculate tailoring, livened up with colour and pattern, and of course a big dose of his trademark 'very London' style and attitude.

Backstage image from Dazed Digital - click to see more.

Images from WWD - click to see entire collection.

Balmain…hmmm. Hmmmmm. Confused dot com.

Images from GQ.com - click to see entire collection.

Classics, with characteristic idiosyncratic twists at Junya Watanabe, like suit jackets with unexpected leather patches, or beautifully designed sports coats with contrasting patterns, made for a strong collection. Nearly all of the pieces look as if they could make painless transitions into lots of men’s wardrobes too, which is a good thing (and more than can be said for most men’s collections). I also loved the shoes. (and I can already see the vacant stares I’ll get from some clueless, pretentious art student who works in Dover Street Market when I inevitably try to track them down in six month’s time…)

Images from GQ.com - click to see entire collection.

You always know what to expect from Ann Demeulemeester, but I think this season was a particularly strong take on her typical dark, draped style. Everything worked well together and it was generally very visually appealing… I’d love to be left in a room with this entire collection for, I don’t know, a day or something just to try on tons of different combinations. And who else but Ann D can (kind of) get away with dressing men in dramatic black feathers?!

Images from WWD - click to see entire collection.

I really liked the Kenzo FW10 collection; the patterns and textures were (as you would expect from Kenzo) really well done, and the dusty, muted colour pallet added a certain classiness. The tailoring was very good too. Quietly luxurious, with a touch of the Parisian intellectual.

Images from GQ.com - click to see entire collection.

So much going on, so many amazing details… it’s always the way with Comme des Garçons collections. You could probably write a thousand words at least on this collection, but constrained by time and space (and, I suppose, the fact that personally I’m not that into Comme…) I’ll just point out a few things I found interesting: the recurring three piece suit with the third piece that looked like a semi-removed bullet-proof vest; the neon-capped shoes; the giant shorts over trousers (pants); the double trousers, with the outer pair split at the crotch.

What I feel more and more as I look at all the men’s collections is that we really need a male version of Anna dello Russo, as in someone who will be totally fearless in wearing head-to-toe outfits from all the big designers, who would appear regularly on street style blogs, so we could have the joy of seeing all this intense fashion being worn in more ‘real’ settings.

Images from GQ.com - click to see entire collection.

The great man himself may have left the building, but this wasn’t a bad Maison Martin Margiela collection. I mean, it wasn’t particularly exciting either, but it was very clean and minimal and stylish, which is never a bad thing.

Images from GQ.com - click to see entire collection.

Viktor & Rolf men’s collections can be a bit hit and miss, but this season I thought was consistently good. Just a smidgen disappointed there was no menswear take on the women’s tulle with chainsaw cut-outs though...

Images from GQ.com - click to see entire collection.

A very classic, very stylish Dries Van Noten collection (puffer jacket in a printed, striped material aside… puffer jackets + print is rarely a happy combination).

Images from GQ.com - click to see entire collection.

Always love Jean Paul Gaultier… this boxing themed collection combined two of his greatest talents, namely killer tailoring, and putting on a great show. I was reminded of Dolce & Gabbana’s perennial boxing theme, although this was like the chicer Parisian version, on speed. As if female boxers in leather corsets, and boys in skirts, boxing gloves and leather vests were not enough, Gaultier capped if all off by posing next to celebrity domestic abuser Chris Brown (who, inexplicably, was doing the rounds at the shows), covered in fake blood, as if he’d just been beaten up…

Images from GQ.com.

Images from WWD - click to see entire collection.

Inevitable Rick Owens comparisons aside, Boris Bidjan Saberi’s well edited FW10 collection had some killer jackets, and well calculated silhouettes.

Images from WWD - click to see entire collection.

It was a strong collection from Damir Doma, although at times it verged on being a bit too thematic (akin to say, Galliano) and hence forced-looking, but generally it was stylish, and Doma found new variations on his characteristic draped silhouette.

Images from GQ.com - click to see entire collection.

Every straight man’s worst nightmare of fashion at John Galliano?! It was a minimalist’s nightmare too, but you wouldn’t expect otherwise from Galliano, and beneath the drama of the show styling there seemed to be lots of good individual pieces.

This backstage picture made me laugh/cringe in equal measures:

Backstage image from Hint Mag - click to see more.

The liberal application of fake tan is always a precursor to any Galliano men’s show…

Images from NY Mag - click to see entire collection.

Walter Van Beirendonck’s FW10 collection was too much fun, with its Stephen Jones ‘giant headphone’ hats, and bright clashing colours. He showed women’s looks too, which included more insane headgear. Loved this collection, as a bit of light relief from it all.

Backstage image from Hint Mag - click to see more.

Images from NY Mag - click to see entire collection.

A very strong collection from Miharayasuhiro; what I particularly liked is how well balanced and proportioned all the outfits were. I always think that Mihara Yasuhiro is such a talented but underrated (in the UK, at least) designer.

Images from WWD - click to see entire collection.

Fashion goth (or goth-ninja) style is nothing new at this point, but Juun J's collection was really very stylish and well executed, and besides it wasn’t all gothic anyway (the double jackets were really clever, especially where a pinstripe suit merged into a leather overcoat). I do keep wondering if this dark, draped, quite deconstructed style is going to be the next thing that trickles down into the mainstream of menswear, now that all the Slimane and band orientated ‘indie’ styles have become so ubiquitous. I mean, I hope it doesn’t (the last thing I want to see are people in Oxford walking around in some hideous River Island take on the style), but menswear seems a bit overdue for a new high street trend.

Images from NY Mag - click to see entire collection.

Good patterns and textures from Henrik Vibskov, who also seemed to be pushing the male skirt this season…

Images from NY Mag - click to see entire collection.

The Issey Miyake FW10 collection was rather stylish in quite an idiosyncratic way, with very clever use of colour and pattern. Although most of it wasn’t really my style, I really liked it, and it demonstrated a sort of Prada-like ability to make potentially odd or awkward combinations look cool.

Images from GQ.com - click to see entire collection.

The collection at Hermès was soft and really luxurious (obviously!) I really liked it… wish I could touch it all though, because you can just tell that the materials are incredible.


So there you have it, the menswear overload is over. You will have noticed I haven’t summarised every show (I didn’t do Louis Vuitton, for instance, because it just didn’t excite me, and I felt another of my dull rants against monogrammed tackiness coming on, so I just stopped myself).

What are you thoughts on these? Agree/disagree?

I was trying to work out what my top 5 of the season would be (including Milan), but it’s difficult… I often tend to think more in terms of particular looks than entire collections too. Maybe I’ll do another post soon with my top individual picks, but for now I suspect everyone’s had quite enough of next winter’s men’s collections…

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Prada Spring/Summer 2010 Look Book

For me, the Prada look book is a definite highlight of every fashion season and the one for SS10, with its dystopian travel vibe with an element of fantasy, does not disappoint:

Screengrabs from Fashion Copious.

I love it all, especially the shot of the girl in front of the grey sky with the silhouetted palm tree and plane, it's just perfect with the hair, the tomato red lipstick... this is a really good Prada women's collection and although it didn't look that exciting on the runway, the look book really brings it to life. Ditto with the men's actually. I love how textured all the images are, with different layers, a bit of collage, a bit of paint... it just all works so well.

See also:

Prada FW09 Look Book
Prada SS09 Look Book