PARIS — As American as apple pie; as Chanel as a quilted handbag.
Vivid similes are pay dirt for fashion brands, which is why so many of them are revisiting their roots and trumpeting their DNA.
Following is a sampling of some of the most evocative examples this season:
Dolce & Gabbana: What could be more Italian than Sophia Loren, a former Miss Italia? Or pasta? Or tomatoes? Each of those elements figured into this transporting show — as the soundtrack, earrings and novelty fabrics, respectively. Add street-carnival lights and a new fine jewelry collection dangling with religious charms, and you get to the molto Italiano heart of this powerful label.
Versace: Back to showing on the Via Gesú, Donatella Versace cranked up the Billy Idol and laid out an illuminated runway for her undersea goddesses. They tottered on towering Lucite platforms, wearing studded leather, printed silks and sexy dresses with sparkling starfish embroideries. “This is a Versace moment,” the designer said during a preview, pointing to a print depicting a mermaid wearing sunglasses. Very Versace, indeed. Balenciaga: Like house founder Cristóbal Balenciaga, Nicolas Ghesquière explored the space between the body and the fabric, producing fashion fireworks galore. There were broad-shoulder jackets in glossy, light-as-air fabrics; futuristic pleated jeans; long collage dresses; teeny-tiny shorts with matching blouses, and new versions of the slope-brimmed fisherman hats from 1967 that telegraph lethal Darth Vader chic.
Chalayan: London-based, Cyprus-born Hussein Chalayan shortened his signature label to one word, but his spring show was an exhilarating ode to an impressive fashion vocabulary built up over 17 years — minus the head-scratching conceptualism. Deep armholes, futuristic porthole cutouts, folkloric flourishes and airplane references were sketched out in minimalist, infinitely wearable garments. Burberry: Holograms are swell, but so is hand-beading. Easing up on his high-tech ways, Christopher Bailey paid homage to old-fashioned craftsmanship faithful to the luxury brand’s heritage. Trenchcoats had detachable crocheted collars, chunky bits of mismatched colored wood or raffia flourishes. “I love the contradiction between this idea of artisanal hand skills, things that take time to make, and digital speed,” Bailey said. “They can coexist.”
Nina Ricci: If the gentle floral prints telegraphed the Thirties, that’s because their designer, Zina de Plagny, made them for Ricci in that era. “Very chic, very French,” was how Peter Copping described his fetchingly feminine spring collection, whose nods to Sixties couture, lingerie touches and ladylike fabrics—laces, cloqués and printed jacquards—were all faithful to the brand ethos. Emanuel Ungaro: Having explored several dubious rejuvenation methods, this storied Paris house now boasts teams “aligned by their devotion to the distinct, rich and timeless heritage Mr. Ungaro established over the course of almost a half a century and which, in recent years, had become obscured,” according to Ungaro chief executive officer Jeffry Aronsson. Chief designer Jeanne Labib-Lamour led the way with draped jersey, colorful prints and subtle sexiness.
For its next men’s wear collection, @roberto_cavalli will show as a special guest at #PittiUomo, running from June 12-15. The brand, which has Florence in its roots, will relaunch its men’s wear collection, which will be presented separately from women’s wear for the first time since Paul Surridge was appointed creative director in May. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
“I was making the guacamole when my scout saw me,” says model @stuckinteenage on being discovered just six months ago while working at @chipotlemexicangrill. Since then Williams has signed with @dnamodels, walked in her first show at @calvinklein and landed on the cover of @vogueitalia – a high point of any model’s career. To read @lisajlockwood’s full interview with the model on her experiences thus far, head to WWD.com – link in bio. (📷: George Chinsee)
“I love the idea of dialogue, period. It’s where I’ve always gotten my inspiration from: hearing other women speak, their journeys and their paths,” said @hereisgina, who delivered the keynote speech during @sxsw for @createcultivate in partnership with @fossil. For her two panels, Rodriguez chose female empowering, female-led and female entrepreneurs to focus on. Head to WWD.com to read more about her thoughts on Time’s Up, growing up in a family of women and why we “need a girls’ club.” #wwdeye #sxsw (📷: @jgreenery)
Leading luxury brand are shaking things up to keep up with streetwear. Case in point: the arrival of @mrkimjones as artistic director of @diorhomme. Jones, who succeeds @Kris_Van_Assche, is seen as one of the handful of designers who can actually straddle the luxury and streetwear worlds — which could lead to even more changes at established brands. What could this mean for the rest of the menswear landscape? Head to WWD.com to find out what experts predict #wwdfashion (📷: @franckmura)
“It’s like buying groceries. You’re going to buy the best mango, the best mozzarella, the best things. You have to, or others are going to take it all,” said @gabrielahearst on why she uses only the finest fabrics. Last week, Hearst received her first @cfda nomination for Womenswear Designer of the Year, and earlier this month she opened a permanent showroom in Paris. To read @jessiredale’s interview with the designer and find out why this is shaping up to be a big year for her, head to WWD.com. #wwdfashion (📷: @francoisgoize)
“It’s an interesting thing, playing a younger version of your mother. It’s an interesting concept. I adore my mom and love her in every capacity, but it was just something that had never crossed my mind,” says @anniemstarke on playing a young Joan Castleman in “The Wife.” The same role will be played by her mother Glenn Close. Read more about her growing up in the film industry as the daughter of producer John H. Starke and Close and what she has planned for the future #wwdeye (📷: @nataliamantini)
@asics is launching a new streetwear sneaker inspired by its latest ambassador, @steveaoki. The Hyper-Kenzen x Aoki, which will launch at @footlocker stores exclusively tomorrow, is a slip-on style that incorporates the brand’s proprietary Gel technology through beads integrated into the midsole for comfort and endurance. Read the full story on WWD.com.