In a season full of underwhelming disappointments, leave it to nondescript little Alber Elbaz to knock the fashion world on its ear and give those of us craving a return to realistic glamour reason to cheer. His powerful black and gold collection for Lanvin, which closed Paris fashion week with a bang Sunday night, was a meticulously beautiful antidote to the wacky and awkward designs some houses paraded out for the press over the course of a rather substandard fashion week.
It all started with John Galliano’s collection for Christian Dior. Coming from a designer who once shocked (and awed) with avant-garde sexuality, the collection looked dull and dated, if not plain-old cheap. As a watered-down version of his voluminous haute couture collection, it took inspiration from “Vreeland’s Vogue,” with candy-colored silks and tacky beaded appliqués. Perhaps Galliano is simply becoming tamer with age, or, more likely, he simply understands too well that in today’s precarious luxury market, society matrons are more likely to buy a simple orange wool skirt suit than a skin-tight, breast-baring editorial darling.
Shockingly, Chanel even skewed older this season, despite Kaiser Karl Lagerfeld’s professed obsession with youth. Ankle-length skirts and simple low-heeled pumps were a far cry from last fall’s multi-colored extravaganza, which was an ingenious exploration of the label’s history mixed with an innovative forward-thinking thrust (patent leather bibs, anyone?). Bi-colored tights were cute, but the frayed suits Lagerfeld sent out seemed sloppy, and the overall tone of the show was abject boredom.
Then there were the innovators, those conceptual designers for whom the applause at the end of the show is more for the “idea” than the clothes themselves. Miuccia Prada came off a strangely fetishistic journey through the world of lace at Prada to show an apparently jockey-inspired collection for Miu Miu. It looked more scuba diving-chic to us, with a palette based mostly in drab and grey shades, but the shoes were some of the best of the season. Architectural heels that looked like mini art-deco sculptures came in colors from taxi-cab yellow to champagne, and were a welcome contrast to the awkward pointy stilettos at Balenciaga, which featured with what looked like enormous translucent plastic crags attached at the heel.
Ultra-skinny girls have another reason to rejoice today, as if they needed it. Marc Jacobs’ coterie of tent-trousered girls at Louis Vuitton sealed up the debate over what some are calling the “Hammer-pants” trend. Yes, its official, they are the hottest thing for fall, so expect them to pop up in magazines everywhere, along with the chocolate-curl inspired hats and towering (but envy-inducing) wedge heels. If this is what rehab does to a person’s design abilities, we can only hope Galliano and Lagerfeld are booking their visits to Promises tout suite.
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