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Both Sides of the Equation – Albert Kriemler, Hussein Chalayan, Yohji Yamamoto and Rick Owens

The two facets of fashion were very much in evidence in the Paris spring shows. At Akris, Albert Kriemler continued with the terrific real clothes for which he’s known…Hussein Chalayan mixed commercial and experimental elements this...

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Akris: Albert Kriemler is on a roll and seems more in touch with his savvy customer than ever before. Notes for his spring Akris show reported inspiration from Italian painter Giorgio Morandi’s work, but there’s no reason to get too poetic about it all. Kriemler’s are wearable, real-life clothes that need no explanation. They’re not about hype, but quality and decorum.

This season, Kriemler brought a little more steam to his look, with slim tailoring and some suggestive dresses that were pretty, but he never lost track of his goal. Without antics or catering to the editorial set, Kriemler sent out another collection full of clothes that real women living in the real world will love.

His first show outside of the company’s Paris headquarters opened with a crisp white cotton bustier and lace circle skirt combination and floated gently along. There were slim jackets, cut with a peplum in a nod to that silhouette du jour, paired with narrow skirts that rode low on the hips. There were polite party dresses in gauze and super-fine ribbed knits.

Besides bringing a little newfound sexiness to the collection, however, Kriemler also infused the collection with a youthful energy. And while his quiet clothes aren’t the type typically seen on the runways of Paris, the retailers who count on the designer certainly don’t seem to mind.

Hussein Chalayan: Being a conceptualist in the fashion world has never been easy, especially if you’re not living on a trust fund. Hussein Chalayan knows that better than most. He’s been a card-carrying artiste since 1994, and he’s still searching for a way to express his unusual talent and pay the electric bills, too. For spring he launched a secondary line, called Chalayan, to be produced by Gibo, while lending his signature collection a more commercial look for good measure. Borrowing from the boys down on Wall Street, Chalayan reworked oversized men’s shirts into easy dresses, shown under a slouchy cardigan or khaki rain jacket. There were blousy sundresses cut in a blue calico. And although the soundtrack boomed with annoying angst, the clothes were carefree and lovely.

This story first appeared in the October 11, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

After making his play for viability — in the form of cold, hard euros, dollars and yen — Chalayan got back to the creative stuff with gently draped dresses in an abstract, watery print suggesting sea life, as well a couple of spacy mermaid numbers jingling with masses of metallic blue beads. Will they buy ’em in Toledo, Ohio? Of course not. But then, any designer saddled with the art vs. commerce conundrum probably gave up on that swing state a long time ago.

Y’s/Y-3: With three collections on the Paris runways this season, Yohji Yamamoto combined his secondary Y’s line and his Y-3 collaboration with Adidas into one presentation. And though one could imagine the clothes appealing to the same young girl, the similarities ended there. These were two distinct brands, and Yamamoto treated them as such, with models in Y-3 coming out stage left and those in Y’s appearing on the right. For Y’s, there were several themes, including newspaper-printed skirts and trousers and a multitude of jackets. Yamamoto’s imagination was prolific here, and he gave a master class on how to cut a jacket in dozens of different silhouettes. He then showed baggy jeans with droopy sweaters, cinched trousers and more jackets, some that laced up the back, and flowing plaid skirts and trousers. Y-3 also was concise. Adidas’ iconic stripes were applied to sweat jackets and pants, a fruit print on swimwear, and bright yellow, orange and green livened up other sweat combos. Footwear, of course, was a major theme, and Yamamoto showed shoes — including polkadot trainers — that are sure to make a major splash at the gym.

Ann Demeulemeester: Rock ’n’ roll style will probably always be Ann Demeulemeester’s leitmotif. But, like a veteran band, she knows how to apply her talents to varying effect, from aggressive feedback to poetic reverberation.

For spring, Demeulemeester walked the quieter side of wild. Though disheveled, the clothes were graceful, with much of the collection involving ties and straps. And even if the overall aesthetic was familiar, Demeulemeester riffed on it in unusual ways, with attachments on shirts, jackets and skirts that, undone, transformed the silhouette. Much was black, with the models in clunky boots or sneakers, while shots of orange and red gave drama to tuxedo jackets and droopy dresses. There were asymmetrical skirts, slouchy knits and short pants paired with masculine jackets. Fringed tops came decorated with crystals, while thin, perforated leather (it looked like paper) added a futuristic feel.

Rick Owens: Instead of sticking with the draping techniques that have served him so well over the years, Rick Owens went out — make that way out — on a limb with his spring collection. He took the risky road less traveled, but things didn’t click.

For spring, he came up with some wacky silhouettes, including a skirt — a silly tubular flap in front and bloomers behind — that could be called The Rigatoni, as well as a sculpted jacket with swirly points protruding from its shoulders that might be dubbed The Croissant. Meanwhile, his best invention was a sporty jacket in netted crushed tulle anyone would call cool.

Clearly, Owens is in experimental mode and hoped to provoke his audience, going so far as to indulge in some gender play. Male models in high-heeled boots tried to strut their stuff, but shuffled along instead as if they were shot up with Thorazine. None could walk the walk half as well as Owens himself, who sauntered out to take a bow in high-heeled boots of his own.

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