Like an episode of Mad Men, a fashion season invites viewers to a game of oversimplification: "This time it was all about heritage." "All about redefining luxury." "All about survival."
We're playing again, because it's fun, and because the spring runway was all about…convergence.
Editors and publishers want to sell luxury goods; designers and retailers want to create and publish content. Retailers favor their private labels, while designers open stores. Bloggers are models, writers, photographers, editors, stylists and publishers rolled into one. Meanwhile, all of the above adopt blogging practices, especially Twitter. In the olden days, editors used to focus and take notes during shows. In notebooks! Now they fumble with cameras, Flip recorders and smartphones to help them meet their tweet quotas.
Yet, as everyone gropes their way through this sped-up, telescoped, cacophonous world, at least there is a heightened sense of camaraderie, of fellow survivors. We've seen worse times, and the worst seems to be over. Why, partying on a grand scale has already made a comeback, thanks to an escalating anniversary arms race.
In June, during Milan Fashion Week, Dolce & Gabbana celebrated 20 years of men's wear with a riveting runway serenade by Annie Lennox, an exclusive dinner and a public spectacle at Milan's city hall that included photo, video and performance installations. Ermenegildo Zegna's centennial called for a doubleheader runway show, a multimedia exhibit at the Triennale Design Museum and a soiree at the museum with pianist Michael Nyman. Brioni marked 65 years with a visually stunning open-air gathering inside Milan's Castello Sforzesco fortress. In September, when the circus rolled into New York, John Varvatos' 10th anniversary concert drew a brotherhood of famous rockers to his Bowery store. And Tommy Hilfiger's celebrity-clogged show segued into a bash at the Metropolitan Opera House headlined by The Strokes.
Designers also treated audiences to live music at the shows, including Franz Ferdinand at Pringle of Scotland and La Roux at Viktor & Rolf. The acoustic music, the undercurrent of anniversaries and the first Alexander McQueen show without the brand's late founder resulted in many tender moments. At McQueen, the proceedings carried a distinct sense of mourning. Creative director Sarah Burton played it safe with house signatures, but introduced interesting shapes.
Heritage remains a buzzword and a key marketing strategy, but not so much a design method, blessedly. After an archive-faithful fall season, designers remembered to innovate and inject freshness for spring. Gucci continued basking in its Seventies-playboy heyday, but with a Moroccan twist. Burberry Prorsum fused its military heritage with a motorcycle-punk motif. Giorgio Armani focused on urbane work attire rendered modern via fabric, color and informal styling.
Convergence, in terms of product, meant tailoring became more casual as sportswear became more sophisticated. Tailoring took on active, Eastern or utilitarian elements.
"It's active clothing in a sartorial environment, but not sportswear," said Lanvin's Lucas Ossendrijver of his and Alber Elbaz's collection, which featured coarse-looking fabrics and feral jewelry.
Bottega Veneta's tailoring took a sportif, technical turn, equipped with lots of zippers and cinchers. "The collection is about performance and possibility," said Bottega's Tomas Maier.
Even the double-breasted jacket, the most formal and dandyish of men's blazers, resurged in the most informal and understated ways. Dries Van Noten's skinhead-influenced show opened with a DB blazer worn with cargo shorts and army boots.
In sportswear, T-shirts and trousers came in directional new silhouettes, and designers ditched prep for more worldly, more rugged or, frankly, more virile references. Nautical emerged as the biggest theme, but think Dolce's Mediterranean villagers or Michael Bastian's Navy SEALs, not yacht owners.
The camel trend from fall evolved into a preponderance of beige, especially unbleached linen and hemp, and again Michael Kors nailed it. Army green and china blue were so popular, they almost acted as neutrals, while citrus colors were the favored accent.
A continuing attraction to Asia and North Africa was also in evidence. Louis Vuitton integrated chinoiserie. Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Jean-Paul Gaultier all looked to Marrakech. "Simplicity is the true luxury," said Dior Homme's Kris Van Assche, whose minimal and soft tailoring reflected the influences of samurai and martial arts as well as the larger trend toward globalism, the grandest convergence of all.
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews