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Against the backdrop of high drama and volatility that engulfed the season, a great deal of news happened the traditional way — on the runway. Here, briefings on some of the fashion newsmakers of Fall 2011.
Season after season, Marc Jacobs keeps people talking. In New York, he was spot-on, literally, with a collection rife with references—spots, sweats, rubber and, mostly, audacity—from his own archive, delivered with a strictness of line that approached arch. For Louis Vuitton in Paris, he took that thought further, working from a fetish motif for a collection slick, shiny and structured that evoked Charlotte Rampling and closed with a smoking-hot Kate Moss. And, oh yes, there were remarkable Vuitton bags, themselves often the object of “unreasonable obsession,” which, to Jacobs, is the definition of fetish.
In a digression from his signature themes, Ralph Lauren offered a lavish East-meets-West motif that nodded to the great Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong as it implicitly referenced China’s ever-more imposing powerhouse role in today’s industry.
Haider Ackermann cemented his wunderkind status with an exploration of the smoking, all- layered cut, slashed for a look that was toughened up yet lyrical and even mesmerizing. As Ackermann’s name was among those churning through the Dior rumor mill, this stunner could only have helped.
OSCAR DE LA RENTA
Oscar de la Renta retreated from spring’s aberrant austerity with a gorgeous collection that was all about unbridled luxury wrapped in a history lesson made modern, as he found inspiration in the Silk Road. “You look at China, where everything starts,” he said. “There’s travel, movement, and along the way, things are related but different. It’s that way with world markets today.”
Look westward with edge— lots of it. That was the oh- so-cool result of the work of Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, whose show pulsed with urban excitement even as it flaunted bold graphics, vibrant colors and much-manipulated Navajo motifs and crafts.
The brutal winter inspired a number of designers to beef up their outerwear. Joseph Altuzarra went the route of faux casual glam, tossing tricked-out parkas over plaid dresses that showed his affinity for the queen of mid-Nineties waifs, Kate Moss. But lest the mood turn too seriously grunge, Altuzarra tempered his retro enthusiasm. “I was really thinking about what’s going to sell,” he said. “I tried to make everything sexy.”
After a delightful Fendi outing for which he worked the sturdy side of femininity, at Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld invoked postapocalyptic fallout with a set of dark gray ash and rocks from which rose clouds of creepy steam. Not to worry! It was just Karl’s way of banning chichi in favor of a new butched-up attitude, one based on a double jacket—classic Chanel tweed over a mannish version—and pants, pants, pants. Along the way, he delivered one of the season’s conversation pieces: out-there jumpsuits for day and evening. It’s called taking a chance, and bravo to that!
“Women should look more innocent.” So said Miuccia Prada before a show centered around a low-belted schoolgirl dress, a terrific coat and trompe l’oeil mary janes that were actually boots in glittered leather and python, with a soupçon of iridescent pastel fish-scale paillettes tossed in for good measure and insouciant evenings. The result was finely focused, witty and provocative in more ways than one, as some retailers wondered what adult women will find to buy and wear. Stay tuned.
One of the delights of the season, and not just because Angela Missoni took her bow with a true industry icon, her father, Tai, 90. The collection, too, was stellar, a lineup of what Angela called “enchanted fairies.” They dressed not in Tinker Bell skivvies but in pastel piles of comfy knits, snakeskin and long, loose dresses for a look that, while nodding toward the Seventies, felt more like grunge girl at the Easter parade.
Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz set out to show “the double sides of women”—one, a study in graphic hardware shown in sleek, lean shapes with metal accoutrements; the other, represented in giant, full-bloom rose prints and vibrant floral colors. Both looked fabulous.
Raf Simons continued on his bold couture path, showing ample, gloriously challenging structured volume while incorporating an ode to the chic ski resorts of the Sixties. One of the hits of the season.
In their still-young career, Kate and Laura Mulleavy have mastered sophisticated romance. For fall, they drew from films as different as Days of Heaven and The Wizard of Oz while infusing elegant design with homespun intimacy. Their artisanal work looked exquisite while sending a clear message beyond a celebration of the Great Plains: These ladies know how to make clothes both beautiful and real-life wearable.
Nicolas Ghesquière called it “a game of perspectives and scale.” That translated into a collection as beautiful as it was new—huge, tubular fake leather knits over synthetic tulle sweaters and printed silk dresses; inventively color-spliced tunics over pants— yet sprung from many specific archival references. The best news of all: Ghesquière’s loosened silhouette should find major favor at retail.