Working in the fashion industry here in Paris during Fashion Week is a bit like being at the beach. You are content and comfortable in your daily tasks, enjoying your surroundings and the gentle ebb and flow of the work. But as fashion week approaches the push and pull of those waves become more and more aggressive. As we watch the shows starting to take place in New York, then London, by the time things kick off in Milan, that wave has sucked back and you find yourself being pulled with such a huge force further and further from the calm familiarity of your normal daily routine, anticipating the moment when that monstrous wave will come crashing down right on your head.
Now that fashion week is over we’ve all been able to take a moment to catch our breath, and finally have a chance to reflect on all that we’ve seen this season.
Before I get to the good stuff, there are a few things I want to address…
For me, what I love about the fashion industry is the incredibly multifaceted way that these designer collections trickle down and eventually end up being the pieces that are consumed by the masses. For example, if you’ve bought a pair of sneaker wedges in the last two years, you owe that street chicness to the genius of Isabel Marant whether you bought the Real Deal or the ones from Payless.
It is essential that these mega brands present collections which contain pieces which are, what we call “marketable” – meaning that they’re not too crazy, wild, and creative that the consumer can’t imagine their pieces fitting into their every day lives. That being said, there are of course those designers who’s niche happens to be the wildly creative, “non-functional” fashion which is based on sheer creativity and incredible craftsmanship.
If you’ve ever found yourself looking at an outfit coming down the runway and you’ve said to yourself, “Ugh oh my God, who would wear that?!”, to you I say, “Relax!”. There is an enormous amount of thought, planning, marketing, business and billions of dollars invested into this industry. Just because John Galliano does a collection featuring newspaper print dresses, doesn’t mean you HAVE to wear it. In fact, these brands are so specific in their target market and demographic, that if it doesn’t speak to you, it’s because it’s not FOR you. There is no hidden agenda to try to convince people who live in a small town in Russia that in order to be beautiful they need to be wearing the armadillo shoes from Alexander McQueen’s Atlantis collection! It’s just a creative expression.
So, now we know that there are two very distinct elements when you’re looking at a fashion show,a designer, or a collection: Pieces which are “wearable”, and pieces which are “editorial” – meaning that they’re more theatrical, creative, and dramatic. (These editorial pieces are the ones that will be used to create those incredible images in Fashion Magazines which express fantasy and imagination. Don’t you worry, no one is expecting you to roll up to work wearing Comme des Garçons fall 14-15 collection! Although I would definitely find it awesome if you did!)
When I made my favourite picks, I chose some of my favourites from dramatic designers based on their inspiration, concept, creativity, and the ability to inspire and awaken my imagination. My picks for the more wearable pieces are based solely on my own personal taste – as in, ‘if money was no object here are the looks I would purchase’. In no way am I claiming that these are the “Strongest” or “Most technical” pieces, or even the best showcase of the work by each designer.
The collections I’ve chosen are based off of my overall enjoyment of the complete collection from concept, to execution. I am not a fashion critic, nor do I like to proclaim that “this person’s collection was better than this person’s”, or “this season was worse than last season”, or any of that kind of opinionated stuff! In my opinion, there is no such thing as an “ugly outfit”. There is always a home for creativity, and there is an appropriateness for every single piece of clothing that is created – It just depends on the setting and context.
In short, these are the pieces I want in my closet come fall, from the collections of the designers who I thoroughly enjoyed their work this season.
First up, the INCREDIBLE Alexander McQueen. Once again Sarah Burton continues to walk that fine line between haute couture and pret-a-porter, the functional and theatrical. Famous in the fashion industry from some of the most dramatic, theatrical and imaginative presentations in the industry, the McQueen brand was true to form, hosting the show at the training stables of the Garde Républicaine. The venue was transformed into a landscape of ten thousand heather plants, lit by eerie moonlight.
Perhaps inspired by her recent transition into motherhood, Sarah Burton described her inspiration for this season as “Wild beauty”, and the “childlike proportions” of the silhouette, resulting in this season as the perfect fairy tale. True to Lee McQueen himself, there is always a nod to the dark-side, the yin to the yang, and while the collection contains the pieces which reflect childlike innocence, there can be no doubt of the presence of a more sinister form as well.
Alexander McQueen FW14-15
It has become even more evident this season that Alexander Wang is growing in both his comfort and confidence in his role at Balenciaga as he unleashed some of his infamous knitwear skills. Now here’s where things get a little more technical; Wang’s approach to this season was to take things that felt familiar (a sweater, wrap dress, raincoat etc.) but with that luxury twist of making them “special” and more unique. He achieved this by the blending of materials, fabrics and textures, for example his cabled knits were laminated with latex or bonded with leather.
Although the collection received mixed reviews (some found elements of it to be too busy), the overall response was positive with a sigh of relief that Wang has finally seemed to have found his footing at the mega house and is starting to showcase some of the talent and personality in his collection this season.
Anthony Vaccarello FW14-15
After last season, the anticipation of the always sexy Anthony Vaccarello collection was highly anticipated. What’s great about Vaccarello is his ability to combine brains and beauty, smarts and sex appeal. 1980s illustrator Tony Viramontes’ expressive, graphic work served as inspiration for a multitude of Vaccarello’s pieces this season. From red ruffles down the front of a strapless dress, inverted triangle cutouts on midriffs, metal leopard grommets appliquéd on leather separates, right down to the slightly 80’s silhouette, Viramontes influence was evident.
Of course, Anthony Vaccarello’s signatures were also present this season with his a-symmetrical hemlines, hip-high slits, and of course his muse Anja Rubik. Credited as being one of his most rounded collections thus far, consumer’s who loved his sexy evening wear (think Gisele Bundchen at the MET Gala last year) will love his new approach to tailoring and outerwear.
With Olivier Rousteing’s obsession with Rihanna and all things “wild” it should have come as no surprise how wild his collection for Balmain would be this season, but it was! Why? Because it came in a way that wasn’t expected. “Welcome to my jungle” was Rousteing’s declaration backstage of his insanely beautiful hip-hop-goes-on-safari-collection.
Apart from being visually and technically breathtaking, there was also a political and global message behind the collection, as Rousteing plans to lead Balmain towards becoming more ethnically and culturally diverse. The message was clear through not only the clothes of the collection, or Rihanna as the face of his latest campaigns, but through one of the most diverse castings in the industry this season.
The 1930’s were the mood at Céline this fall with Pheobe Philo siting women like Hannah Höch and Lee Miller, (who were pivotal figures in the Dada and surrealist art worlds) as major inspiration for this season’s collection. In an interview with Tim Blanks, Philo stated “These women were doing things which were quite radical at the time, like wearing men’s clothes, but which today seem quite normal. I very much wanted women in men’s clothes, but it was a complex idea so we brought it back to a quite feminine silhouette.” When asked how she imagined “her woman” she replied, “running through fields; wild, tender, strong.” And boy did she hit the nail on the head.
This collection speaks to the strength and perseverance of women in a man’s world, whether it’s Hannah Höch and Lee Miller having their gender held against them in the chauvinistic world of art, to perhaps even Philo herself, as a female designer in an industry dominated by men. This under current of feminism will undoubtedly resonate with any woman who has the pleasure of slipping into one of these gorgeous creations.
(And seriously can we just take a moment lust after these shoes please?!)
If you haven’t picked up on it already, it’s pretty obvious that the men’s wear inspired trend is not only surviving, but thriving this season with designers across the board. Clare Waight Keller for Chloé brings all things masculine and feminine together with a touch of wildness to create one of her most balanced and beautiful collections to date.
The layering of delicate pieces made from silk chiffon and georgette, under leathers and wools provide the perfect melange of comfort, warmth, luxury, protection and femininity.
Christian Dior FW14-15
This season Christian Dior was given new life under the always brilliant hand of Raf Simons. Famous for his tailoring and menswear skills the collective cocktail or Simons at Dior has always continued to keep the industry squirming with anticipation. While still providing some flashes of what has become known as classic Dior pink, the combination of tailored blazers and suiting feels flirty, feminine and strong.
Christophe Lemaire FW14-15
It was evident this season that the Lemaire woman was a worldly one. Swathed in mystery, intelligence, worldliness and yak wool, this collection makes me feel like fall couldn’t come soon enough! Lemaire’s presentation was a romantic version of female espionage while evoking a sensuality in his utilitarianism that is so often lacking in today’s world. Delicious.
Comme des Garçons FW14-15
Rei Kawakubo provoked my childhood fear and imagination this season for Comme des Garçons with her incredible, model-devouring knitwear. The shapes of the clothing reminded me of the Monsters who would suddenly appear in my room as the darkness settled around me in my bed as a little girl. But it goes even deeper than the obvious, as always with Kawakubo. She describes the Monsters of her collection as, ” the craziness of humanity, the fear we all have, the feeling of going beyond common sense, the absence of ordinariness, expressed by something extremely big, by something that could be ugly or beautiful. In other words, I wanted to question the established standards of beauty.” Undoubtedly the constructing, knotted, suffocating shapes demonstrate the feeling of the ravenous consumer appetite of the fashion industry, and Kawakubo’s own attempt to survive it and keep one step ahead of the game.
What’s particularily exciting about this collection (apart from the obvious) is that while the styling during the presentation is very particular, it is not permanent – meaning, you have the freedom to style these pieces however you want! (Which is an extremely exciting prospect in my editorial mind).
Damir Doma FW14-15
Potentially one of Damir Doma’s most commercial collections, Doma is definitely trying to find the balance between his previous “super cool” image and his responsibilities as a high end designer with a business attached. These attempts can be seen through his take on the oversize coats, an on-trend choice which previously would have gone unacknowledged in his collection. Far from a sell-out, Doma is succeeding in balancing both his creativity and his business.
Dries Van Noten FW14-15
With the opening of his exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Dries Van Noten’s collection this season was an incredible combination of the past and the modern. Whether it was all that time he spent through in the archives while preparing his exhibition, or whether it is a completely controlled accompaniment to the prestige of his brand, he’s done it superbly.
With the collection containing those classic Dries pieces – silvery flora, man-styled coats and trousers, a thirties-style languor, a shimmer of glam rock, coined ‘The Decadent Adventuress’, accompanied by a whole new approach – Ibizan rave culture. Taking it another step further Van Noten made a connection between pop art princess, Bridget Riley. The result? everything in the show featured a psychedelic swirls, even featuring a MA-1 jacket (a favorite proto-ravers) cut it out of orange duchesse satin. Next level ravers indeed.
Elie Saab FW14-15
Titling the collection Dark Opulence, Elie Saab attributes the Color Field paintings of Mark Rothko as a rough template for his colour palette this season. His departure from his preferred monochromatic colour scheme was a welcome and refreshing change as he experimented with merlots, and various ombré effects. Opulent indeed!
I could gush over this collection all day! But I’ll try to stay on point… First off I just have to unleash the “WOW!” which bubbles up every time I look at these incredible pieces. Known for his vague answers, it came as no great surprise when he gave exceptionally vague answers about the concept and inspiration for this seasons collection. Pugh did however say that he felt he was simply following his “intuition”. Bravo sir, bravo. The complexities and beauty of this collection, the combination of materials and textures, stirred by Pugh’s vague description lets the mind digest this with the sheer wonder which can only be formed by true art.
This collection brings to mind questions like, could this be a social commentary on the state of the world and the future of our consumer behaviours? Could the plastic in turn represent all that we will be left with as a viable material once all of the natural resources have been consumed? Or is it something more romantic and simple like the arctic come to like with all of the metallics, furs, leather and white on white on white?! The only one who truly knows is Mr. Pugh himself and he couldn’t be keeping his secret tighter! For now I’ll just continue to gush and revel in the possibilities and the infinite questions which will never be answered.
Christophe Lemaire describes this season’s collection at Hermès to be for a woman who is “a little bit mysterious, a little bit exotic, and fiercely independent”. I don’t know about you, but those are three of my favourite things in a lady! Lemaire sites the Russian steppes, the ancient East-West trading route (aka the Silk Road), and Persian carpets as reference points this season. Although the collection draws its inspiration from the wilds, there is no lack of that classic Hermès luxury, nor trends for the season.
Isabel Marant FW14
This season Isabel Marant left the industry feel a little mixed – on one hand, Marant has received such enormous commercial success over the past couple of years that , but in some ways that has kept her from challenging herself or doing anything new. In some ways this collection is expectedly “Marant”, with its cool pieces dripping with undoubtable commercial success, but its innovation felt too safe and a little lack luster in the eyes of many of the industry. But hay, with pieces that will work season after season, any one who likes the classics is going to eat up this collection, “innovative” or not.
JC de Castelbajac FW14
Jean-Charles at De Castelbajac took sportswear-chic to a new level this season, accompanied by those synonymous blanket coats, this collection is so snuggly and delicious.
John Galliano FW14
Proof that designers can draw inspiration from just about anywhere to inspire stunning and wearable collections, Bill Gaytten notes the furniture designs of Marc Newson as a major inspiration this season at Galliano. Molded plastic and metal, with acute emphasis on construction of Newson’s designs combined with the exotic and extravagance of the Galliano woman results in something surprisingly luxurious and feminine.
The third instalment of Carol Lim and Humberto Leon’s David Lynch trilogy, both Kenzo’s Fall and Pre-Fall collections were steeped in ‘Twin Peaks’ flavour – the duo even convinced Lynch to sign on as a collaborator this season! Lim and Leon’s success at Kenzo is largely attributed to their ability to transcend their highly imaginative and often times, wild creations from the runway into reality and this season is surely no exception.
Before the show, this collection was dubbed Triple X – Xtravagant, Xtreme, and Xperiment. All of which have been used to express Alber Elbaz’s work for Lanvin in the past, but never have we ever seen all three combined – until this season.
Louis Vuitton FW14
OMG I cant even tell you how much I have been anticipating this show! This season marks Nicolas Ghesquière’s first collection since taking the helm of Louis Vuitton from Marc Jacobs who was with the brand for 14 years. Before the show a tender note, nostalgically typed on a typewritter was placed on every seat. Regarded as one of the most beloved, respected, and copied designer in the industry, Ghesquière’s first collection for this iconic french house was one of the most emotional and highly anticipated transitions in fashion history. And boy did he deliver. ❤
Maison Martin MargielaFW14
The British gentleman is combined with delicate femininity in the perfect balance of elegance and function. There is nothing more I can say other than I found this collection absolute perfection.
Saint Laurent FW14
The perfect presentation of 60’s pop with the classic elements of Yves Saint Laurent himself made Hedi Slimane’s collection this season for Saint Laurent is every thing I love. From the wide brimmed hats, Le Smoking nods, sequinned jackets, it is so deliciously feminine but with an edge, casually extravagant.
Sonia Rykiel FW14
Known for creating collections for ‘The Woman Who Dresses Herself’, there are endless reasons to love what director Geraldo da Conceicao came up with for Sonia Rykiel’s collection this season. Who wouldn’t want to be chicly snuggled up in the luxuriously layered pieces.