Is there a couture crisis? The answer might depend upon how you feel about that proverbial tree crashing in the forest. If nobody cares, can it be considered a crisis? Whatever one's perspective, even the most die-hard aficionado of haute must admit that the milieu's long-festering identity crisis and recent rapid attrition have taken their toll. And when one factors in the financial angle — especially when it seems that all we hear these days, not only from retailers but designers as well, is about the glories of those ready-to-wear pre-collections — couture seems like an institution in more of a quagmire than ever. Monday's early shows did little to clarify the genre.
Not surprisingly, Giorgio Armani at Armani Privé and John Galliano at Christian Dior took wildly different approaches — Armani's reverential at times to a fault, but focused keenly on his perception of real-world glamour; Galliano's all theatricality complete with libertine leanings and faux blood by the bucket, but not a trace of red-carpet reality or allure. Each in its own way felt somewhat forced.
Ziyi Zhang was unquestionably one of the most dazzling young stars at last week's Golden Globes, looking drop-dead gorgeous in a graceful flush of chartreuse silk from Armani Privé. At the Privé presentation on Monday, word was that selections for upcoming events were being made for Michelle Pfeiffer, Hilary Swank and Chanel ex-pat Reese Witherspoon. Those ladies could well take a lesson from Zhang, because the goods are there, but boy, does a girl have to make them her own. As presented, the Privé collection ranged from siren to stuffy, styled with an intensity that sucks all the fun out of dressing up.
Armani obviously holds strident ideas about couture, believing first and foremost in an haute experience that is dramatic and ultraserious. He paraded his hyperconstructionist premise first in pantsuits, their core chic sometimes jousting for attention with improbable details. Evening came dripping in crystals and organza extensions. Here, a handful of pantsuits flashed Liza-with-a-z while diversifying Armani's true passion of the moment, the siren gown. These steamed up the premises in a wealth of variations — pale orange ribbon banding; abstract-printed silks; a devastatingly glamorous plunging-neck number with beaded skirt, and at the more bizarre end of the scope, a pair of frocks with 360-degree lanterns encircling the hips (definitely not sitting dresses). Yet the collection's most intriguing dress was also its most potentially amusing, all curves and completely encrusted in near-blinding multicolored crystals. It's the kind of dress that requires stratospheric star power and confidence (not to mention a young hairstyle) to pull off. And then — watch out."Watch out" might also have been the rallying cry at Galliano's Dior, but for a very different reason. What else do you yell when a young lovely is about to lose her head? On the up side, Galliano got the jump on the legions of fashion Antoinette-o-philes who will no doubt be swarming about as the release date of Sofia Coppola's film nears. His love of fashion and reverence for couture craft were in full flower in the high-drama cuts, endless reinvented corsetry and evocative, decorative flourishes, now rich with elaborate printing and pictures, including portraits of the young queen herself. On the downside, he ignored completely the joyful passion for fashion she indulged so recklessly before the courtly life soured. (What a show it might have been had Galliano told her entire story his way.) Rather, he focused on ghostly jailed maids, revolutionaries and executioner types, with a few skeletal digressions. And for all its intricacies, at times the costumery felt too familiar, impeccably crafted, highly complicated concoctions of the sort perfected by Galliano over the years. Along with such visual histrionics one longed for dreams of the calmer sort, if not for everyday life, then at least an idea or two to put out there for awards season. Then again, you never know. Witherspoon just might want to wear a face-covering "blood"-splattered leather jacket over a graffitied see-through skirt. At least she'd be sure to be the first.
Breaking: @cushnieetochs’ co-founders @carlycushnie and @ochsmichelle are parting ways. After a 10-year run, Ochs is leaving the brand. Get the full story on WWD.com – link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
@maybelline’s Kanako Takase had snow bunnies in mind when creating the beauty look for @philipppleininternational. Playing off of the bedazzled snowboards in the collection, Takase mixed two highlighters together for a luminous sheen. #wwdbeauty #nyfw (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
“There’s a huge gap between the old way of doing things and today. It takes the youth to help evolve that. You have to count on the kids today to help lead you into the future. A lot of these retailers are stuck in the past. Communication is the biggest thing,” said @ronniefieg of @kith on the youth’s role in retail. On Monday night, Jeff Staple moderated a keynote session with Fieg and @syresmith at Assembly - a series of workshops, talks and keynotes addressing topics or issues in the apparel industry. Head to WWD.com to read more advice from Fieg and what Smith thinks of his dad @willsmith’s Instagram account and sustainability (📷: @weston.wells)
@joansmalls closed the @michaelkors fall 2018 show in black sequined pants and a varsity T printed with 19 on the front and 81 on the back. 1981 – the year Kors went into business. #wwdfashion #nfyw (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
“You think your life is going to be a certain way, and nothing you thought would happen ends up happening. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be designing clothes and working with Mickey Drexler, and building something I’m deeply proud of,” said Jenna Lyons. Nine months after leaving @jcrew, Lyons is exploring the meaning of happiness. Read the interview, where Lyons talks about reinvention and more on WWD.com – link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Farrell) #jennalyons #jcrew