Le bon, le mauvais et le laid. Et alors le beau…
Paris Fashion Week will always bring us; the good, the bad and the ugly. But then, oh then, there is the beautiful… c’est magnifique!
SS11 did not disappoint to take us on an impassioned roller coaster; extreme emotions of delight and distaste. While wonderfully elaborate and still the flamboyant leader of the elitist fashion weeks, Paris certainly encourages a reaction, bon or bad.
Kenzo stunned us, complete un coupe du foudre. Exceptional palettes appeared to be haphazardly strewn over the models, momentarily, and perhaps barely even just stitched-together garments were draped over the beautiful people who paraded them. (I fail to do justice to the genius of consideration given into this collection; it looked so casually glorious and effortless-traveller-inspired-chic ensemble, that I am just in awe of how it can be born). An epiphany of colour harmony in sorbet hues; corals, putty, chrysanthemum and inks blinded. Oriental inspired prints and ethnic woodblocks in the exaggerated, over sized all in one printed pieces. Harems, Kimono’s and celestial patch working became the perfect acquaintances. This was a collection accumulated from an immense travel expedition, the most sublime of all pan Asian cultures submerged ideally together in empathy. And always with a pretty feminine edge. Kenzo’s prior collection for AW10 raised us from the manor born with a countrified divinity, furnishing inspired fabrics, traditional florals and a rural eccentric, lady of the manor in men’s tailoring. However, for SS11 we are transported, en vacance, to another continent entirely. I lost myself somewhere between the beauty of a Japanese floral garden and a colour blocked tone of green that can only be described as revitalising minted infusion. Antonio Marras departed the revolving ivory stage to a rapturous applause, only after his models spiralled around the circular stage like ‘a music box with 40 ballerina’s’.
From the sublime to the ridiculous; Balenciaga began and I’m afraid I sighed. With the first six outfits redundant to me, animated dog tooth inspired leather clad, wet-suit like similes, personified. Nonetheless, my eyes happily perked up and a familiar smile became my face as a successful set of three piece suits strolled confidently down, owning the catwalk. Ties and graphic print accessorised. Then, again, patch working; this time in shirts, of a sugar coated candy scented palette, cake decorated in baroque and damask prints, juxtaposed with hardened gunmetal studded belts. I hoped for the excitement and originality of the SS09 collection, the buzz of ‘the Balenciaga prints’- The at-the-time hype of “Have you seen them? Have you, they’re something else”.
Or AW10’s futuristic nuances, the colour blocking and space suit-come-biker jackets worn by androgynous ‘Heaven’s’ Angels. Nicholas Chesquerie then gave us Newspaper prints, here nothing quite so memorable. However, Harriet Quick of vogue declared of the SS11 show “It was a reinvention of couture techniques but through Ghesquière’s futuristic vision.”
A Paris Fashion week overview would not be complete, at this time, without a touch down at Celine. The of-the-moment designer: Phoebe Philo. She cured us with a utility, uniform inspired collection of medical white and surgical blue, the emphasis, as always, was on shape which was moulded top heavy for detail and care, top-to-toe; one all one tone which was a dramatic statement, but with moments of genius pattern and colour pop ups, the kind of detailing that currently keeps Celine one step ahead of her contemporaries. She is at the pinnacle of understanding silhouette and tailoring, forget Savile Row.
Last season we saw an equally iconic catwalk show, with confidence and literally ‘do not mess with me’ reverberations. She mocked us with plunging necklines, curvature hems and hard edges. But button up modesty outfits and lace, to feminise the collection aptly. Lucinda chambers called it ‘utterly unique’. I quite agree.
Alexander McQueen theatrically performed a befitting, medieval; tapestry inspired ostentatious, gilded, jacquard work of art. The silhouettes were given big boned hips reminiscent of Victorian dress; I was expecting a peplum to follow. Gothic ruffles depicted a swan nightmare, where pheasants might turn sadistic. Lee, I feel, would have been at peace with this collection and although I cannot fail to feel a little loss of magic without him; a credit to his originality, for me the epitome of his collections was where a model was spun like a drugged up ballerina, then taunted, and continually spray painted by robots to create a one off canvas. Even the description is unique beyond any words I could articulate. Chanel and YSL couture still raises the bar like only they know how, without the creators own eye foreseeing, so I hope Sarah Burton can continue to tell the very story, and see through the monocle of McQueen’s own imagination and vision for more seasons to come.
And quietly pay tribute to the theatrical hooligan himself we all admired and adored. To Burton’s credit, SS11 has poignantly accomplished this. McQueen’s last collection for AW10 was a doll like, gilded, ostentatious statuesque dream.
A quote from Vogue.com –“Michael Jackson’s I’ll Be There played Burton out to her standing ovation and us back out into the Parisian rain, many in tears - the extraordinary poignancy of the Alexander McQueen story once again breath-taking”. Au revoir.