Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pre-Fall Collections?

One way to look at the traffic jam that are the Pre-Fall collections is to consider them all as pilots for TV shows. Maybe even more to the point Reality TV shows. There's an almost audible sound of out of breath designers doing their best to come up with a hook, a gimmick that will promise them a coveted multi-episode run. What that gimmick is is any one's guess and from the looks of it, the audience is happy to eat whatever slop is heaved into the trough. Don't get me wrong. I love a good collection and failing that, a few good numbers. It isn't with glee or satisfaction that I write that I'm not seeing much of either. What I am seeing to a large degree are so many efforts not yet ready for prime time or even the deepest of darkest cable. That nether world is already populated with one legged fashion "shows" that would give these collections a run for their money.

There are some great offerings out there by capable and brilliant hands. Chanel comes to mind. Such an elegant and almost spare show of exquisite clothes with a point of view. One thing about those clothes, even if you stripped away the jewels, the accessories, the up-done dread locks and almost Mod sixties flat heeled spectator boots, the clothes would shimmer and seduce. The banquet setting is the perfect metaphor for the feast Lagerfeld serves season after season.

The same can be said for Alber Elbaz at Lanvin. This is a collection with a point of view and the rigor to back it up. I don't categorically love all that he does but what he does is make very real fashion. He explores and experiments with unusual shapes and volumes in search of a language that's all his own. As old school as that appears to be, he does it with a hunger for the new in fabrics, fabrication and proportions. What makes it cool in the end is his unselfconscious presentation. The clothes always have a strong and clear voice.

In contrast, too many other collections are mired in noise and pretense. If I hear another editor drone on about "couture" shapes as an all-purpose "pass" for clothes that consist of rounded shapes cut in stiff fabrics I'll start to bark. I blame myopic editors for coining that pig latin. It's a way of giving weight to things that have little to recommend them. The Louis Vuitton collection is a good example. It's disappointing that Julie de Libran turned out such a lackluster line up as she seems to generally cook with gas. It starts to look like Marc Jacobs, all blow and no go. The Americans are similarly lost in the labyrinth. So much is expected of new talent that they trip over their shoe laces to please. Corny sunglasses, awkward shapes in fur, liner notes that show little connection to what is shown all add up to a meal without taste or smell. Perhaps, the clothes should be forgone and just give the audience a moody video with models of the moment swirling in smoke and a wall of mirrors.

The season has come to be known as the most important for retailers and designers with the longest selling time. You'd expect to see collections with depth and interest but instead they look superficial. Maybe it's time to clear the calendar of the endless parties, balls, tributes, competitions, awards and photo-shoots/ops and get to work? Is that hopelessly quaint and middle-class of me? Well, it's what I think? I think?

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