Thursday, July 10, 2008

Haute Couture....Real vs. Memorex

The recent collections brought about a number of curious reactions and responses from the fashion press and some everyday Janes/Joes that have stuck like a hairball in my throat. As you can imagine by looking at me, looking VERY closely, that ball of hair is clearly in my imagination. Well, the OTT aspect of this season and several reactions to it are equally OTT and a case of imaginations run wild....Wishful thinking in some cases.
The season was full of very provocative and beautiful clothes. Statements were made and gauntlets were tossed down, but many things were also filled with helium. They floated up a few feet and imploded or if you breathed in their heady scent, your brain and voice started to squeak.
Though Chanel appears season after season the collection to watch, to consider a barometer of sorts, I didn't really see the brilliance or direction it often suggests. That's fine. You can't expect Mr. Lagerfeld to be prophetic every time he shows his couture collection. There were magical pieces throughout, but the overriding theme of organ pipes was somehow overbearing and awkward in its suggestion. The day suits with heavy pleating may work to a degree on the models but will likely not be as effective on his clients. They create a bulk that ultimately is less than flattering . The theme carried through the whole collection into evening and still created a discordant heaviness....too much pedal and not enough pianissimo. Still there was music and the lilt of a haunting melody woven in and out. I'm always moved by his mastery, his fertile imagination and the absolute mastery of technique. In that sense, it didn't disappoint.

Valentino was initially for me not such a compelling collection, though it struck a chord in many ways that the first RTW collection by Ms. Facchinetti didn't. There was a flatness to the rtw which was very different from this couture collection. I was intrigued by the elliptical shapes in dresses and skirts. This is a shape rarely successful beyond a sketch. Though there was an absolute beauty to the execution of the pale chiffon cocktail, ,it still appeared to be an unreal , or exaggerated look that will be more archival in it's importance than actually wearable. The couture is in it's very essence is a laboratory to alchemist's attempts at mixing elements to create precious gold. Though I gave her short shrift initially in my first look, I must say that the collection as a whole had many very beautiful elements. There was a risk to it that was fantastic with the shadow of the master looming in every corner. She followed her heart and created a romantic and modern poetry that told a new story. I am curious and excited to see what will come next. She has exquisite taste, and sense of balance and rigor in her approach that could greatly improve on the RTW. I'm watching her like the cat that I am. Valentino's clients would be wise to support and wear these new designs. The story continues ...this is not Remembrance of things Past. It is a palpable and present future we are witnessing.

Dior was a bit of a cacophony of harmonies. Like Mozart was told after debuting a new opera by his Royal patron a while back, " It's lovely, but I think there are too many notes". The collection was FILLED with fantastic passages but there were too many variations on a theme that has been seen and heard from his repertoire. A master and creative genius, yes, but it came off as a bit of a repeated melody. Bombastic and powerful in it's presentation, but ultimately like a film that one forgets after the credits have run. I will always listen to his music, it is sublime and haunting, but some collections are more original than others. Perhaps some editing would have strengthened it...more strings and fewer brass .

Givenchy left me cold....even with the sweaters and leather jackets and inclement weather wear. It didn't look or feel like Haute Couture. I can only imagine the disheartened Premieres and the ateliers that were ignored and left with little or no chance to show their masterful technique.

Most importantly is that the couture is alive, it continues to inspire and will always be the most intriguing music to our senses. Long may it live.

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