This sounds so fatalistic and I am not going to write a post about how empty so many collections have become . I won't waste your time and mine discussing the truth of big business BRANDING and how it's all but defaced the look of fashion and the focus of the marketplace....or how it's perverted the minds and eyes of the public either. For that matter I won't dwell on the state of sameness in fashion; the fact that as many collections are different, many many more are basically saying the same thing.
I would like to say that the effort that some designers are making to find, hone and deepen their voices is exciting and interesting. Collections like Rodarte, Bottega, Calvin,Michael Kors, Chanel,and others are ones that capture and hold my attention.
The voyage that goes on at Calvin to find the essence of a design, to strip away everything except the actual bones of the piece is really so beautiful. Who cares if it sells alot or a little. It's so beautiful and of this moment.
Chanel in a way is it's antithesis , but glorious in its revel in the luxurious. Couture and RTW that makes the most out of a limitless palette of fabric, decoration, cut embellishment, but with the same feeling of subtracting extraneous elements. It's lush and rich and pushes the envelope in every sense. It stimulates and forces you to consider what the definition of HIGH fashion means. For a designer like Karl Lagerfeld to do this in almost every single piece, let alone collection after collection is really pretty astounding.
Michael Kors is just so ripe with a vocabulary of great American sportswear elevated to it's highest form. It makes Ralph Lauren look redundant, as much as I like the fact that Ralph honestly has everything anyone could possibly need from High to semi-low. You are enticed to wear or admire the off handed perfection of Kors. He is the heir to the great American look.
His mixing and not matching is the essence of real life dressing. The days of head to toe recognizeable designer fashion is honestly blurred in his hands. It could look new ,old right and odd but always adds up to cool. His men's wear will hopefully rise to the same level of perfection. He inspires me. He puts his collections where his mouth is. To deliver on a message is a fine and difficult science. Real science is so much more interesting than mad science.
Isaac Mizrahi and Vera Wang,he of the 'do rag 'and Belgian loafers, and she with her Expressionist's approach to 'all over the map' design. This is what identifies them today. I won't go any closer than that with those two. Isaac calls for his own story...one I'll tackle shortly. Vera , I'll take a pass on.
Bottega Venetta just makes me want to shop. That company in the capable hands of Thomas Maier, is sensational. European design at it's very best. Serious, playful,luxurious and commonplace taken toe 5 levels above what has become the norm. I've never gone into an expensive European deluxe boutique and wanted to buy just about everything I see. Be it womenswear or men;'s it all has such beauty. There is a lightness of hand that makes it all look so effortless. Granted, it screams designer, but without the self consciousness of LABEL. There is humor and unexpected color, fabric choices and details that make it so covetous. If you're going to invest in clothing, and this is definitely a collection that calls for some serious investment, you get the goods with a brown leather cord bow on the box. Hip, cool , ageless and friendly. It's not for everyone, but is is accessible to all types, should one choose to go that route. The shearling slippers of last fall, not to mention the separates for spring , are the thing I have not gone a day or any place to stay without. I have had them resoled and would kill for a back-up pair if only they could be found. The color of them makes me moan: olive/taupe. I never met a neutral I didn't love. I save my money for that boutique, sale or no sale, I keep an eagle eye out for what percolates on those shelves and racks. To think I used to walk past and not bother to go in is something I am still trying to come to terms with.
Rodarte is a bit of a conundrum for me. I want to not like it .I want to say it is self absorbed design , home sewing of the highest order, but I can't. There is something there, a vision that is all it's own. The Mulleavy sisters are really onto something. They have come up with a style all their own. Sure it references other designers, that odd-ball crew Three as One, whatever, oddball japanese deconstuctionists, a smidgen of Beene and a quarter teaspoon of Cappucci and Halston, but it is all theirs. It's a celebration of women, an ode to women and a crazy mad love for charting new ways to say BEAUTY. I have been critical in the past and have knocked them for the fact that Vogue embraced them early. This case of MOTHER LOVE( did anyone see that great film of the same title starring Diana Rigg years ago? She , the mother that sets out to kill every member of her family because of her own special brand of LOVE) caused me to look at them with a jaundiced eye. But as I continue to look, I see clothes that are more and more beautiful each season. They work very hard and never compromise. The fact that they work outside of NYC is working for them. They eat healthy, have a clearer view and are influenced less by the energy that is tsunami-ish in this claustrophobic fashion ghetto. I wish them well and look forward to what comes.
So shallowness which does parade as depth with other designers, too many to name, is not the case with these above spot lighted designers. Obviously there are more in this group, but these posts are not supposed to go on and on, as I fear this one has,again, but I wanted to mention them. I have been caustic in my criticism many times, but it is partly for the sake of levity in this overly serious medium, but I do stand by all I've ever written. I am not off the cuff FLUFF and not random with my comments, they are truly held opinions. I speak what I feel.
I come in PEACE.
On the Street…The Fortezza, Florence
1 day ago