Fashion as spectator sport. No wonder the notion has achieved cliché status, given the multitiered gaping that goes on these days, fueled by the red carpet, the Project Runway effect, the endless paparazzi stalking of celebrities for publishable, post-able photos.
Much of fashion’s appeal as mass entertainment centers on the collections—once on the radar of almost no one other than participating insiders, but now a monthlong global media (both new and old) event. First came the celebrity takeover of the front row, and more recently, the social-media-celebrated external fashion show starring dressed-to-the-hilt editors stalked by a new genre of blogging paparazzi, many of whom themselves dress for the lenses of others.
Lest we forget, some of the actual runway fashion is also delivered with ample showmanship; we’ve come to expect no less from two creators in particular. This season, Marc Jacobs went Pop in New York with a high-drama treatise on the spectator black-and-white that he’s long loved but seldom restricted himself to. (Others were on the wavelength; black, white and graphic developed into one of spring’s most important trends.) At Louis Vuitton, Jacobs took the same visual bravado on a glossy ride to the Sunny Side via yellow-and-white graphics and a major set of escalators. At Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld’s installation of sleek, giant wind turbines provided a bold backdrop for clothes that, stripped of the obvious iconography, nonetheless radiated modernist Chanel. Increasingly, Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton has upped her production bravado to better reflect the theatricality of her clothes. This time, moody lighting and a mesmerizing video of bees at work telegraphed “a matriarchal society” in which everyone looked high-glam fabulous. Others, too, have shifted toward showmanship, notably Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, who inhabited a decrepit office building in the bowels of lower Manhattan for a dazzling technology-informed collection, and Alexander Wang, who punctuated his audacious, edgy lineup with glow-in-the-dark fun.
Still, the season’s biggest entertainment fest played out in the Battle of the Debuts. One hallowed fashion city, Paris. Two revered names, Dior and Saint Laurent. Two powerhouse groups, LVMH and PPR. Two designers deemed cooler than cool, Raf Simons and Hedi Slimane. Not surprisingly, the anticipation was inevitable. What could not have been predicted was the divide between critics and retailers on Slimane’s Saint Laurent. From this vantage point, Dior and Simons won hands down on the aesthetic plane, delivering what Dior has long needed—beautiful clothes that celebrate currency over camp. I found Saint Laurent oddly sweet in its reverence and mundane in its approachability. Yet I also saw how those two characteristics—and an oft-repeated riff on that good old rock ’n’ roll favorite: the leather jacket and skinny pants—could make a sound prescription for resuscitating the Saint Laurent brand around the world, a theory supported by the retail raves the collection garnered.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast