Karl Lagerfeld: It’s a good thing the day started absolument beau, weather-wise, because security at Karl Lagerfeld’s 9:30 a.m. show kept top editors and buyers waiting outside. Once everyone entered — merci beaucoup, Ingrid Sischy, who turned impromptu press agent, helping the fashion folk in — we learned why, because vacuum-toting ladies were still Hoover-ing the venue. Finally, with the floor spick-and-span perfect, the show began.

Throughout, there was the usual streak of Goth, accented this time with a punkish rebel-yell vibe. There were two-tone bandana-cum-fishtail coiffures, Eighties-centric mesh underpinnings, neon driving gloves and more colorfully electric (and frightening) lengthy press-on nails. But get past those extras and you’ll find some fine tailored numbers. Case in point: the jackets, which came every which way — boxy and masculine, aggressive in leather, or with a whiff of the military. And Lagerfeld certainly knows how to cut a mean shirtdress, such as the one prettily pleated down the sleeves. Come evening, however, that Morticia-esque styling, complete with fishnets, fingerless gloves and clunky boots, got in the way again, dulling even the most bejeweled evening gowns.

Dries Van Noten: Who isn’t fascinated by the inner workings of staging a fashion show? On Wednesday, Dries Van Noten put the process on view. A mere scrim separated the audience from the backstage area, allowing full view of all pre-show goings-on, from makeup to hair to dressing. But anyone expecting to glimpse last-minute panic attacks, frenzy or fumbles would have had to try another show, because Van Noten’s backstage area was utterly serene and controlled, making it the perfect backdrop for his exquisite clothes.

“It’s elegant sportswear mixed with an Indian influence for a strong woman,” the designer said before the voyeuristic romp. The result was a collection that infused high function with an element of intrigue, while never giving in to too-obvious exotica. The sportif revealed itself in quilted puffers, silk anoraks and athletic-esque jackets; the Eastern influence, in gentle, vaguely sari-inspired dresses and skirts plus a plethora of paisleys, both photo-printed and embroidered, and intricate allover, mosaic-like embellishments. Colors came in a mustard/saffron spice story as well as rich jewel-tone blues, purples and deep reds. Van Noten worked the two sides together seamlessly, pairing, layering and contrasting with a surety that boiled down to a single element: beautiful clothes.Comme des Garçons: Betcha didn’t think of Rei Kawakubo as a girly girl, right? Well then, be prepared to have your preconceptions shattered, because Kawakubo’s fall collection was all pinky, purple-y pretty, with an unleash-your-inner-child angle, no less. Then, again, perhaps this most intellectual of designers was offering some cryptic, deep-thought commentary on women who can’t leave childhood behind, who long to find naive safety beneath a big pair of mouse ears.

Either way, Kawakubo’s musings made for delightful viewing, from the striped anklets right up to those deranged Disney chapeaux. Fall season aside, Easter is right around the corner, and Kawakubo seemed to have raided the bunny’s dye supply before moving on to Suzy Lou Who’s closet, filled with frothy baby-scale frocks, there for the pilfering. She appliquéd these onto curvy stretch shapes that formed the base of the collection.

Of course, since time stands still for no one, Kawakubo left the obvious baby stuff behind to move on to padding. No, not like in the Quasimodo days of yore, but in a more sedate manner, popping out giant bows and dots and against a torso, or positioning stuffed gloves as if to grasp a jacket closed against a breeze. Champions of pillow clothes will no doubt find these the epitome of chic. As for everyone else, Kawakubo always surprises and gets us to think, and this time outdid that with charm to spare. Only a fashion grinch could argue with that.

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