Prada: Maybe Miuccia Prada gets too much credit. Who else could get away with sending out hair shirts seemingly made from old faux-fur toilet seat cozies and mannish oversized coats with their sleeves yanked off, only to be thought a genius? Perhaps the more appropriate question is, who else would try?

In a city where deep fashion thoughts, or for that matter, cute, skippy fashion thoughts, are at a premium, Prada makes us think. And to be honest, even after considerable Rodin-channeling, the collection she showed on Tuesday still made for complicated rumination. Was there an eco statement in the endless fur that was really in disguise? Did the message somehow tie into the Rem Koolhaas installation with its Styrofoam block seats left over from men's? "Fake classic, that's how I define the collection," Prada said after the show. "I wanted to keep to simple shapes, and when you do that you need to work on the colors and fabrics."

The silhouettes were simple indeed and at times fake simple, as with the mannish coats that looked so familiar coming but caught you by surprise going, thanks to the blouson-and-half-belt effect that settled across the posterior. There were boyfriend cardigans, shift and sack dresses and Plain Jane shell-and-skirt motifs. Everything was shown with two-toned ribbed knee socks that were actually footless, and often topped off with little knitted caps.

But mundane? Hardly. As the designer noted, low-key shapes call for major fabric intrigue and in that area Prada amazed. Incredible work went into her materials, as she will be the first to let you know. "There was a huge research. They're superexpensive," she said. They looked it: the mohair fur; boiled mohair knits with silk overlay; bonded wools and silks that were pulled away in spots to create puckering; madcap plastic fringe that looked like some kind of throw-away brazenly recycled.

As in her urban-crusader collection of a year ago, most of the fabrics were plenty weighty. But while then Prada went all dark, here she opted for a broader palette of hues pilfered from her far-flung travels. There were pretty pairings of nude with blush pink; ombrés shaded from mulberry pink to orange or taupe to emerald green, and some caustic combos of orange and blue.In fact, some of the more strident combinations and minimalist shapes harkened back to the designer's mid-Nineties work. Yet nothing looked retro. Rather, this was a confounding manipulation of classics — both her own and those in fashion's public domain — into something that looked like nothing else. But then such is the genius of Prada, even when it's too much genius to fully figure out.

Jil Sander: Raf Simons wears his discipline on his sleeve. His aesthetic is as restrained as it comes in this industry, one that feels incredibly right now, at a time when even renowned froth lovers are scaling back for a moment.

The Jil Sander collection Simons showed on Tuesday morning was as beautiful as it was exacting. He built on last season's strong framework while resolving its one issue, color, here, banishing overwrought head-to-toe brights in favor of more reasonable blues, purples, bronze and metallic shots shown as dresses or the single piece. But more than the deft weaving of color into a black and gray lineup, this collection was about purity of form, a message Simons delivered within an ultra narrow range from overt austerity to gentle calm.

His is a finely whittled silhouette, almost always reed-thin, starting from a perfect narrow shoulder. At times it looked completely plain, while at others it bore a single detail, simple yet demonstrative given the cleanliness of the canvas. Thus, a pair of vertical darts contoured one sleek dress while a knotted neckline softened another; a waist seam cut the plane of a coat with buttons on the lower half only. Throughout, Simons divided his focus between spectacular dresses and savvy pants looks, the latter worn under jackets, coats or capes. Both radiated interesting simplicity. True, at times that interest trod the cusp of affect, but only crossed the line with a few capes that were a bit too Eva Braun in their severity.

Which is not to say they didn't look good — just too harshly clinical for reality, shown as they were with the arms uncomfortably out of sight. In fact, there wasn't a woofer here. Nor did the plainness ever become dull. In a short period, Simons has picked up the Jil Sander collection and run it right back into the forefront of fashion.Bottega Veneta: Before the show, Tomas Maier rattled off a number of the ideas behind his collection: Northern European women, artist Georges de la Tour, candlelight, Puritan sensibilities come undone and lips. Mostly notably, it was the lips — and not those of the surrealist/Schiaparelli kind. The inspiration showed up subtly in the collection's colors: blush, coral, crimson and flesh tones in perfectly pretty day dresses of wool crepe and cashmere. One couldn't help wondering if the soft pocket folds of a wool crepe suit jacket hinted at the puckering of lips. The other color motif, black, came by way of de la Tour and his moody, Caravaggio-esque lighting. Maier relied on this for everything from smokings to coats to flirtatious full-skirted suits. "The clothes are suggestions for women who are individuals, a way of dressing that can be different for all women," he said.

Of course, the down side of such diversity is that a collection can be a bit all over the place. In his laudable client-pleasing efforts, Maier sometimes allowed for some strange interludes, as with a gold fringe shimmy shaker and a series of boudoir looks featuring trapunto-stitched bras under silk slipdresses and pajamas that came off as a too-forced ode to old Hollywood. Conversely, a less likely source inspired the collection's best evening look: an austere black bustier gown worn over filmy nude veiling looked just right for the proper Puritan who gives into her sensual side come nighttime.

To access this article, click here to subscribe or to log in.

To Read the Full Article

Tap into our Global Network

Of Industry Leaders and Designers

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus