This collection is a little like a placebo. You think it's the real thing, and in some ways it is, but in reality it's just a sugar pill. Beautiful fabrics, a cool and sleek presentation, all the attendant hoopla for a major fashion moment, but when the lights go down and everyone files out you realize that what you thought you just saw was really a lite version of something else; something of much greater weight and import. The other something was a collection by Christian Dior back in the golden days of his "New Look". This collection was more "Looks New".
The first indication that there was something vaguely familiar was when the first suit walked down the runway. It was Dior's classic Bar Jacket with almost the same details and fit, over a long, full, swinging skirt that fell well below the knee. It was a great look, totally new in proportion to what we see from most others and advanced in a charmingly retro way. Many looks in the collection aped the same idea and proportion. This is not to say they weren't smart and fresh, they were. The fabrics and leathers he used to create this jacket many times over were rich and technically superb. My quandary is more that the overall presentation, in retrospect, feels like a clever stylist with connections at the best haute vintage couture shops put together the bones of the collection and filled in the rest with variations on the main theme.
Well that's certainly how a collection is created and how a successful one works. I just believe in the outmoded method of coming up with a more original idea, developing it and then building a collection around it. It's just too easy to buy it all from a vintage store or outbid everyone at Drouot, the Couture Auction house and take it back to the workrooms to dissect and reassemble. The last several seasons have been cases in point: Saint Laurent was the direction from last spring and variations on that theme informed Marc's eponymous collection as well as LV. They are collections that were more the work of a stylist, a master stylist with his finger on the pulse of what editors and magazines wanted. It doesn't feel authentic despite my criticism.
This was one of the prettier collections I've seen, like last season when I felt similarly. Maybe it's because he's riffing off of some of my favorite designers at their most vital periods. I just want to see something that makes me sit up and shut up. The models were decidedly more curvy which was a statement on or against the starving waif. These girls were more than just buxom in his clothes , they looked too big for them. There is something annoyingly haphazard about the fit in these shows. Nothing seems to fit. It's like a rush job. Things look ill proportioned and too tight. For my eye, that's not a statement about a new direction. It's more a statement about poor planning. I want to believe that there is a method to the madness and not that he or others have declared that it is the season of the bust (big and full) or that the waist and curvy hips are the new G-Spot. So many dresses under coats or suits with long full skirts were beautiful in their fabrication and distracting in their fit. The evening gowns at show's end were just pastiches on the glamorous gowns from Dior's salon in the late 50's. If you're going to go there, go all the way and don't just drive by. It wasn't so much Mad Men as it was Bodacious Babes. So in some ways these collections for me are not so different than lesser more banal ones because they don't move things forward. They just add a bit of sugar to a cake that is no longer fresh.
On the Street….Somerset House, London
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