Archive | February, 2016

Paris Spring Couture 2016 Wrap Up

10 Feb

 

Whether you were inspired by the styles, moved by the colors, or entertained by the Hollywood like productions that fashion shows have become, we are reminded that ultimately Paris couture fashion week is all about quality in custom creations. This kind of old world craftsmanship, painstaking attention to details, keen selection of fabric, and threads spun of real gold, couture is the pinnacle of luxury.

Quite the contrary, “fast fashion” should be considered the red headed step child hidden under the stairs to it’s relative “couture.”  “Fashion fashion” defines clothing collections which are based on the most current trends.  Cheap and affordable clothes are mass produced in rapid pace and distributed to stores in the fastest way possible.  The consumer eats, digests, and regurgitates these pieces like the #1 value meal at McDonald’s.  It looks good in the pictures and seems like a guiltless pleasure but in the end it leaves us dissatisfied and empty. Retailers flood the stores with racks upon racks of gotta-have-it now colorful tees, jeans, and paper thin sweaters and jackets. This is a problem for the fine art of couture fashion.

After watching a full week of shows in Paris, I feel like I’ve been to every museum and cultural event in town. Each piece comes to life on the runway like art in motion. Every elegant outfit is a wearable work of art that must be revered and admired as if were as precious as a master’s painting hanging in the Louvre.

_VAL1164 _VAL1137 _VAL0383Viktor & Rolf Spring 2016 CoutureViktor & Rolf Spring 2016 Couture

Speaking of masters, the couture house Valentino and its spring collection and over all brand are just that- master works of art. This spring, Valentino wistfully recalls the romanic medieval times. Juliet style silhouettes of fine silk and brocade which frame the feminine figure in a soft, elegant line as if she were stepping out of a Mid Summer Night’s Dream.

The theme of fashion as works of art continued with Viktor and Rolf’s couture spring collection. Statuesque models moved as if almost petrified in cubist art designs. Picasso himself would have been moved by such an interpretation. To make fabric crease, cut, fold, mold, and lay at such attention shows how the hands of a genius can create given the space.Zuhair Murad Spring 2016 Couture

Zuhair Murad’s collection titled “Amour-en-Cage”-love in cage- was exactly that. Boning in corsets and skirts was skillfully used in the construction to frame and shape the fabric. Lace overlays and floral appliqués looked like a garden of flowers and butterflies under glass.

Guo Pei Spring 2016 CoutureGuo Pei Spring 2016 Couture

What was equally exciting was Guo Pei’s Paris Couture debut. She was made famous by designing the gilded gold robe that Rihanna wore to the Met Gala last year. All eyes were on this custom designer who has gone viral and she didn’t disappoint. How befitting that her background  was in costume design which made creating a couture collection come as naturally to her as any gifted and inspired artist.  Use of fine details like feathers, crystals, tassels and touches of fur, Pei showed no restraint to adorn each piece as if were made for a diva herself.

Paris Spring Couture 2016 reminds me a renaissance waiting to happen.  Skillful artisans using age old techniques with fabric, thread, beads, and patterns. Sewing is an art. Designing fashion is a true talent. Using the finest material the trade has to offer is the standard. Combined, this is what couture is all about- an appreciation for the fine art of fashion which shouldn’t be rushed or reduced, rather it should be respected, preserved, and revered.

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Evolution of Fashion Week

10 Feb

This year’s VIP list for Fashion Week 2016 includes Anna Wintour, Beyoncé, The Olsen Twins, Kim Kardashian, and YOU! These shows used to be “invite only” events but this year The British Fashion Council, BFC, launches an industry wide initiative in London to open the shows to the public.
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“Fashion Weekend” will be held at the Saatchi Gallery, a 70,000 square foot building located in central London on the famous Kings Road. Featured in London’s Fashion Weekend will be designers Emilia Wickstead (http://emiliawickstead.com/welcome/), Holly Fulton (http://www.hollyfulton.com), Mary Katrantzou (www.marykatrantzou.com), and Temperley London (http://www.temperleylondon.com/). Each day, one designer produces a runway show that is repeated two to four times throughout the day.

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This shift isn’t exclusive to London. Other fashion capitals of the world have taken notice, sparking conversation around making the shows of fashion week more accessible. CFDA, The Council of Fashion Designers of America, has hired Boston Consulting Group to assess the demand and the impact this change would have on the industry.

Historically, every city’s fashion week has been a closed event. Top magazine editors, photographers, celebrities, and the fashion elite go beyond the velvet rope leaving the general public behind. Hand delivered invitations and secret show locations were just a few of the elite marketing tactics used by designers to create buzz around their collection. But this exclusivity is being questioned.  Designers feel that reaching their customer directly will benefit the bottom line.  “Since I started showing in 1983, I have always had about 50 percent consumers at my shows. It gets the customers excited and gives them some incentive to buy,” said Dennis Basso, luxury designer.
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An underlying problem of fashion week has been the time lag between the collection and the season.  February shows highlight next fall’s offerings which is a disconnect from the “buy now, wear now” demands of today’s consumer.  If the designers want to start to produce fashion shows for the customer and not the editors, the collection needs to be “in season”. Lisa Sugar, founder and president of PopSugar says the current set up is confusing to consumers.  “When our audience sees something they love on the runway or spectacular street style, they expect to be able to buy it right away. In fact, through our proprietary research PopSugar Insights, 71 percent of our audience have made a purchase immediately upon reading about a new product online,” says Sugar. If this is true of the majority of the public, having shows where consumers see the product, want the product, and then buy the product could mean a big pay day for designers.

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Taking a page from the auto industry, Fashion Week can model their event to combine a large scale expo that attracts consumers and buyers alike. The Auto Show travels from city to city highlighting today’s car trends and tickling the imagination of future design. Similar to the what the fashion industry has done for years, the Auto Show hosts a “First Look” invite only event which reaches the elite crowd of dealers and media, maintaining the cache of an exclusive event. What sets the car industry apart is that later in the week, the doors open to the public. The showroom floods with consumers, successfully creating buzz and excitement. If designers modernize the fashion show model by making their customers part of the process, it can only translate into increased brand awareness, loyalty, and revenue.

Paris Couture 2016 Spring part 2

3 Feb

Get ready to drop a few dimes and dress like you mean it. The lineup of designers midweek include Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Elie Saab, and Stéphane Rolland. With the name comes a reputation and expectation to be “wowed” and I’m still speechless. A feast for the eyes! Titillating creations! Ethereal fabrics! Sexy! Yes, Paris Couture Fashion Week 2016 has hit its stride. 

Midweek shows appeal to the girl who considers herself a traditionalist. Timeless style, elegant fabric, and a penchant for details, this group of designers, overall, stayed true to their roots-expected tweed from Chanel, risque and racy from Gaultier, fragile luxury from Saab, and sexy sophistication from Rolland. Even though predicated and expected, there is something to be said about a solid brand that doesn’t disappoint. 

Exercising control and restraint in a world that demands new and improved is hard for the tried and true fashion houses. Finding a balance between these polar opposites challenges even the most seasoned designers. Karl Lagerfeld, for example, keeps in step with the suited styles of tweed but his modern twist was to add a hip belt to carry your Iphone. 

Elie Saab’s collection was consistent with rich decadence that just looking at it made your teeth hurt. The finest laces, jewels, and trims reminded me of opening a Maharajah treasure chest. Saab added jeweled combat boots and rockstar jumpsuits to make it more “of the now”.

The fashion show setting and staging has taken over as a signification part of the production. Creating a mood by using elaborate backdrops is a vast departure from the historical white paneled staging of yester year.  Chanel’s show manufactured a grassy garden with a Japanese style wood bento box erected in the Grand Palais.  Gaultier didn’t disappoint either. His setting was a hedonistic night club.  What made this even more interesting was the models’ “chewing up the scenery”- a choreographer’s term to define overacting on stage. 

A model wears a creation for Jean Paul Gaultier's Spring-Summer 2016 Haute Couture fashion collection presented in Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

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There is one collection that still languishes in mind like a pheromone perfume inviting a night of sexy seduction. Stéphane Rolland’s collection was interesting, exciting, sophisticated, sexy, powerful, and feminine-a full range of details that have left me thinking. Rolland takes a lot of fashion design staples and puts them together in a modern way. The black bow, high/low hem line, and origami pleated details combined to make it interesting to the eye mixing little girl charm with womanly sophistication.

Blending past, present, and future is what it’s all about this week in Paris. Iconic designers mixing their old trade artesian craftsmanship with steely tech savvy creates couture that’s out of this world.