Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Look at Fall 2014 Couture

Dior Couture Fall 2014

Earlier this month, the fashion flock descended upon The City of Lights for the bi-annual haute couture shows. Movie starts like Emma Watson intensified the city’s luminescence as they took their places in exalted front row. The less crowded schedule and relaxed atmosphere of couture week is a welcomed sharp divergence from frenzied ready-to-wear.

The clothes shown at the haute couture shows take hundreds of man hours to create. Embroidery painstakingly applied, artfully sewn seams that can only be the reward of a long patience—these are the things that make couture special. With such attention to detail, it is only right that each presentation of these clothes be at a reduced pace, allowing the spectator to rightfully digest each sumptuous frock feast.

It is like a stroll back in time before communication moved at the speed of light and pictures from the runway were instantly uploaded to Instagram. Indeed couture is slow fashion where the hands that manifest such other-worldly creations are represented by the carefully considered singularity of each garment. Contrast this with fast fashion where clothes are mass produced and a pair of jeans can be sewn in mere seconds, often by people in factories in developing countries under objectionable conditions.

These mass market clothing factories in places like India, create easy to manufacture clothes that skimp on quality and are shipped to fashion consumers in far-away lands like Europe and the United States and near-by China. Unremarkable in their craftsmanship, they are created by invisible hands--- a fashion sleight of hand that seems to make on-trend clothes simply appear at the whim of the consumer.

Back in Paris where the clothes are made at local ateliers, onlookers were delighted by Raf Simons Dior couture show that paid homage to the past, but defiantly propelled couture forward into modernity. Raf maintains Dior’s signature ultra-femininity but also grounds it with a bit of sober masculinity by swapping some ball gowns for trousers and frock coats.

There was a quiet opulence about the Dior show where stark courtly white pannier gowns with a flush of red and blue embroidered flowers were shown alongside youthful undulating short hemlines. Some of the less fanciful looks such as black trousers and turtle neck topped with a colorful frock coat may have looked more ready-to-wear than couture—a modern approach to couture that taps into the zeitgeist desire for ease in clothes, no matter the price tag.

What’s old is new again. Maison Martin Margiela also turned to the past to create his fall 2014 couture collection. Using embroidery samples and fabric cut-offs from an assortment of couturiers that includes French national treasure Paul Poiret. The result of this haute mash-up managed to create an elevated freshness while deftly adding the warm charm of nostalgia. French francs were sewn onto thin, sheer fabric, a motif that appeared repeatedly throughout the show. In one instance, a ankle length sheer franc skirt was paired with a Louis XV style floral brocade body suit.

The attempted revival of the house of Schiaperelli as an exclusively couture house continues with the newly appointed creative director Marco Zanini. This latest collection is Zanini’s sophomore Schiaperelli couture collection---his first debuting in January during the Spring 2014 couture week.

There were the known markers of Schiaperelli in the collection, sculpted shoulders and shocking pinks, but in the end the collection failed to conjure the same fun and wit of the original designer Elsa Schiaperlli. Zanini’s hand was too heavy when creating pieces like the opening look which featured a leopard double breasted coat with large, hulking, sleeves done in fur. The attempt at camp in the leopard and fur coat was weighed down by the stiffness of the heavy arms. It’s hard to imagine a bold, independent woman in clothes that are hard to move in.

But there is a showing of promise in Zanini’s work for the house as he clearly understands the codes of the house. Camp, being one of them, is hard to pull off without looking plainly over-the-top. This collection was all-too-obvious, missing the wink of wit.

Karl Lagerfeld set his time machine to the future with his latest Chanel collection. Chanel is a house firmly built on history, an establishment of chic. Lagerfeld stays loyal to the foundations of the house while resisting the stodginess of history. The classic Chanel suit was futuristically sculpted tweed with a peek of matching tweed biker shorts underneath that added a youthful casualness. Lagerfeld also played with modernizing fabric, bringing lace up-to-date, for example, by coating it in silicone.  

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Art Corner: Daniel Arnold

Corporate drone turned artist, Daniel Arnold creates compelling visual vignettes of New York City inhabitants.

Looking for an escape from his job at children's television network Nickelodeon, Arnold began taking pictures while wandering the streets of the New York--the city he has called home for over ten years.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

X=Denim on Denim

Look of the Day:Alexander Lewis Resort 2015

Shine,shine,shine! Metallics for day are a big trend for the fall 2014 season. Picking up where the fall collections left off, Alexander Lewis takes metallics on holiday for resort 2015.  

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Trend Alert: New Heights

Calvin Klein Resort 2015

I've noticed some pants with higher waistlines recently. This could only be in response to the continued popularity of the crop top where one seeks the perfect ratio of skin to fabric.

Photo Via @tommyton

Denim Couture: Parisian Designer Faustine Steinmetz Puts a New Spin On an Old Classic

Parisian designer Faustine Steinmetz makes uncanny creations in her East London studio. Steinmetz uses yarn, shredding, curling, and embroidering to turn the commonplace into the exceptional. " I wanted to reproduce everyday pieces and give them an almost haute couture feel." The designer tells

You can find designs by  Fautine Steinmetz online at LN-CC

Look of the Day: Easy Breezy

From personal style blog FIGTNY, comes this polished, relaxed look that can work both on and off the clock.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Trend Alert: Baring it All

The newest and most controversial trend in fashion is leaving little to nothing to the imagination. Rihanna stirred up shock and awe when she arrived at the CFDA's in New York City earlier this week to receive the Fashion Icon award. The singer wore an Adam Selman see-through dress accessorized with a head scarf,gloves, and a pink fur stole that star draped over her arms and coquettishly held in place over her nude-colored thong. Her entire outfit (minus the stole) was covered in over 216,000 Swarovski crystals, lending a dazzling, star-studded effect to the barely-there ensemble.

Look of The Day: Monique Lhuillier Resort 2015