Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It gets better,one day at a time. (AA mantra) Spring 09 Collections

Things start to percolate with Oscar de la Renta,Calvin Klein, Narciso Rodriguez and Ralph Rucci.The sun came out, the tackiest Russian Fashion Casualistas were EVERYWHERE, and some memorable ,even directional collections hit the runways at a full gallop!

Mr. Costa at Calvin presented a beautifully austere and even antiseptic collection , all geometry realized in fabrics derived through pure physics. It was a heady, intellectual romp down a dead serious runway. But what was so refreshing was the notion of his collection practically whispering to the gathered crowd,"Walk don't Run." The shapes were exactly that...SHAPES. These clothes challenged the imagination, created illusions on the body that were totally unique , spare and so very very modern. Ok, so they are a self conscious effort that only really strong independent minded women will look natural in. All the others will doubtlessly look in over their heads in angled ovoid dresses and covering layers over separates. I say covering layers and Ovoids, because these clothes and shapes call for a new vocabulary. They are the future,with which we've been visited . But modern they most certainly are. His offering is an non-FDA approved drug that women owe it to them selves to test. I would take a handful, toss it all down with a big glass of TAP water and wait for the malaise to evaporate.

Oscar de la Renta is becoming a paradox. I can honestly, but not without a degree of shame, admit only 2 times at fashion shows did I walk out in tears. Once at a Geoffrey Beene show 13 years ago and a show of Oscars about 6 or so years ago. I cried at Beene because it felt as though I'd witnessed something so beyond belief and beauty, that I thought there would never ever be another collection worth considering. Like watching a first true love walk away and know what it was you had and also know you'd never see it or feel it again. With Oscars show, also a spring collection, my reaction was equally intense but for a different reason. I felt I'd witnessed the the perfect summation of the most classically chic ,sexy and perfectly proportioned collection that any one in America could ever create. It was so smart, had humor, an over the top quality, but all grounded in a reality to strive for. It was cathartic in its completeness. Everything fit. Everything worked. Yes, there was some gratuitous CHACHA in there but the balance was as sharp as a razor. No Waterloos in sight. I was moved, so the tears came and I went home feeling again like having witnessed a miracle of sorts.
So I was left a bit disturbed with this collection. All the requisite elements were present, the richness, the measured effects so as not to overwhelm, the assured sense of absolute purity of chic and glamour......just no soul. A bit like a sexual fantasy versus actual sex. Lots of pretty clothes, but not young like in recent seasons. The Saint Laurent effect seemed to invade the overall presentation. It felt like Oscar was resting on past laurels, not pushing the envelope nearly like before. I say this not without a heavy heart. He is one of my absolute heroes. I was convinced on 9/11 when his show was scheduled at 11 or 12, that despite what had just happened (not realizing the full and catastrophic degree of the tragedy) that I was sure as hell not missing the show and he sure as hell wouldn't cancel. Well we all know what happened..... I wonder where his business is going. The new guard there gives me pause. Just because Oscar is your step Dad and father in law and Mom is a fashion icon, doesn't give you a key to the kingdom, even if Daddy had a copy made for you.

Narciso Rodriguez had a good day at the races. He showed clothes that were a bit of a departure for him. More color, much more graphic in some ways and a little more overt in their sexuality. I liked the bold black and white striped dresses, as cool as narrow ellipses and the bandage wrapped dresses, which made Herve Leger dresses of the past look safe and predictable. There was a real freedom in this seasons message. I love the obvious technique, the balance between sleek and ease. The end result were clothes perfect for all shapes and all ages. These clothes are a clear example of needing no hype to get over. They stand on their own, they speak for themselves. Now if only the rest of the herd of so-called designers in this one runway town could take a few cues from him.

Chado by Ralph Rucci is really in it's own unique category. He is easily the most advanced couture informed designer on this side of the Atlantic. Part of the problem with that is that he is all too aware of that and makes too much a point of trumpeting it to any any all within range. That said, he is a master at creation. His metier, as he is so found of referring to, is one hell of a thing of beauty, that is if you go in for that sort of thing. It is an acquired taste and is not for everyone. This season's barrage of exits,almost 60 , were a tour de force of examples of his fecund imagination and the utter genius of his technical team. There was a lightness which was welcome and made the clothes so much more accessible and young. The surface treatments, which translate to mere beading or embroidery (for the Marchesas and BadgleyMischkas of the world and so many others) are completely re-invented in his hands. You have to see to believe the solutions he arrives at for solving this design conundrum. Important day and evening clothes call for a degree of decorative cuts and surfaces. Rucci makes his own rules, defies convention and does it in a way that changes your eye forever. His persona in interviews and on camera is overly precious, saying things like" a higher power works through his hands" (PLEASE) but the man is a force of nature.

One day at a time, things can change, even improve. We just have to be willing to put one foot in front of the other.

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