Monday, October 12, 2009

Yohji Yamamoto, Alexander McQueen

Paris fashion week ended with the inevitable failure of the Yohji Yamamoto brand and the theatrical (as always) Alexander McQueen show.

Yohji Yamamoto is one of those cult brands that only a small circle of customers follow. However, when every other brand is creating a niche to support its vision, Yohji has failed to do so. Balenciaga has used its Motocycle bags and the capsule collections to make profit, Givenchy remains THE place for evening dresses following "Breakfast at Tiffany's", Lanvin's evening dresses make women feel sexy and special, YSL has a loyal following among the 40+ socialites and its bags are selling well, and the list goes on. Yohji has nothing but Y-3 yet it took on Limi Feu to burn cash. The price point is also off although it isn't a problem unique to Yohji.

McQueen, on the other hand, has learned to be theatrical yet maintain its commercial success. No matter how shocking his runway presentation is.

McQueen is a Savile Row educated master in cutting fabrics. This show is an apex of his work in past seasons: All he has been working on is to cut a piece of fabric and make it visually striking. The computer generated prints are cut, draped and sewn to enhance the 3-D like images. He also attempted to create very structured looks with soft fabrics such as silk chiffon. As crazy as the runway outfits look, his showroom was filled with adapted looks ready for a commercial success. His formula works.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Alexander McQueen - Show of The Decade
I will comment on this later, but please reserve half an hour and watch. This will be THE show people talk about in the coming five years, if not ten.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Paris Fashion Week Hits and Misses – Luxurious Paris, Minus The Avant-Garde

While Nicolas Ghesquiere of Balenciaga has returned to his roots, some avant-garde designers are cutting back amid their financial challenges. They want to SURVIVE.

Yohji Yamamoto is perhaps the best example. While the clothes are poetic as usual, the pieces are extremely commercial. It’s beautiful, but definitely uninspired. I later heard that Yohji has incurred some financial challenges, which explained the collection very well.

Junya Watanabe, whose collections usually raise eyebrows, is also playing it safe. Junya showed his (commercially) greatest hits: form fitting jackets and biased cut trousers. It’s another collection many retailers will be very happy with, but the hard core fans are hardly satisfied.

Comme des Garcons, Ann Demeulemeester and Hussein Chalayan also followed. There is nothing wrong with being commercial, but when the Belgians and the Japanese are playing it safe, Paris has lost half of its luster.

And here comes the other half: pure luxury.

Dries Van Noten showed his masterful skills mixing beautiful Southeast Asian prints and Ikat. All looks appeared to be styled perfectly with a unique Dries touch. His shoes have improved immensely in the past seasons and clearly that has brought more financial freedom.

Alber Elbaz wrapped all his girls with silk and leather, showing another ultra luxurious collection. It’s undeniable that Alber Elbaz spoils his clients to the max, yet the collection looks repetitive and I’m hungry for something new.

What blew me away is Haider Ackermann’s latest presentation. Haider has gained tremendous publicity after Tilda Swinton wore his clothes to award shows. Haider’s clothing is full of beautiful draping skills, yet it always comes with a bit of a dark mood. The only downside to me is that most of the outfits need a tall lady like Tilda to pull off, the clothes are emotional nonetheless.

The collection that moves me the most is actually Sophia Kokosalaki. She understands what a woman wants. A dress would beautifully drape around a model’s body, feminine, but not too soft. After wearing my Kokosalaki dress to a few special occasions, I’m ready to splurge on a cream color summer dress.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

SS 2010, Balenciaga Brings Back The Street Warriors

If nostalgia is Miucia Prada's prescription for a recession, Nicolas Ghesquiere is certainly looking forward and arming his girls with stripes of leather, bright colors and veggie dyed leather pants to fight the way out of it.

It was Nicolas' design in 2003 that brought me into fashion. I was attracted by his aesthetic of this lean yet energetic girl. It was natural for him to dive into the Balenciaga archives during an economic boom to study the old master’s work, but after the uber feminine drapy outfits shown for the FW09 season, it is about time for him to return to his true self.

Many (Americans) have argued that this collection reminds them of Rodarte. This makes me chuckle because the Rodarte sisters were perhaps still in school when Nicolas commanded the world with the tough chic image. I have always believed that Rodarte has copied Balenciaga way too much, but without the elegance or refinement.

One major difference between excellence (such as Nicolas Ghesqiere) and mediocrity (the Rodarte sisters, I’m afraid) is that the former keeps evolving and refining one idea with great attention to details. One can compare the SS2010 collection to Nicolas’ old designs presented for SS03 and FW03, and hardly ignore the difference in material, color and construction. The silhouette is the same, yet the technique has been significantly enhanced: Patience pays off.

The following tops are another good example:

(FW 2006, FW2008, Rst2009 and SS2010, pictures from

It is the Nicolas Ghesquiere aesthetic, with Cristobal Balenciaga’s sense of luxury. I have no doubt that it will be a very expensive collection, yet the spirit is so straight forward that the commercial lines will do extremely well.