Chanel Haute Couture
I SO look forward to the Chanel Couture shows! They’re some of the most elaborate and engaging events of the entire week… and let’s face it- Chanel is considered the show to top. Apart from that, I adore Karl Lagerfeld- the gentleman is head to toe talent and from his lifestyle to his cat, I love it all. Most importantly, however, I think he’s one of the most consistently innovative designers of true luxury fashion. This season Chanel focused on flowers- plasticized, synthetic, totally man- made flowers… and they were perfect!
For Spring 2015, Kaiser took us on a grand trip to the futuristic paradise of Spring 2515- a vivid, hyper, plastic world where everything natural- including flowers, has been replaced with artificial substitutes. The garments were suitably modern, with simplified silhouettes and deconstructed shapes making up the bulk of the looks presented.
This season’s aesthetic was a lot less ladylike than previous installments: classic proportions and prim detailing were replaced by sexier, more youthful cuts and grungy, almost messy ornamentation. New materials like plastic and synthetic fabrics were paired with classic Chanel tweeds and pearls, while iconic house looks were thrown in, but were reworked into new shapes and forms to create entirely new, diverse representations of old staples. Tweeds gave way to lavish fringes or outsized, ravishingly artificial floral trims, suits were tailored out of proportion, jackets were cut to just below the ribcage, blouses became embellished bandeaux tops, skirts were low- slung and loose and the major accessories were embellished wool beanies and flat leather ankle boots. It was opulent, elaborate and dazzlingly vivid! The show exuded a pulsing, high energy exuberance from start to finish.
It was Chanel for the club kid and it was fantastic. It’s a great collection, and one that’s surprisingly versatile: for the first time it’s an Haute Couture showing that included pieces that are usable both editorially and commercially. There really aren’t any looks that scream ‘Red Carpet’, and it’s not a collection that will be loved by the more mature brand lovers, but the younger generation of Chanel devotees are bound to love it. There are pieces (like those little tweeds and the mini-tunics) that I’d kill to wear any day of the week, and I’m sure I’m not the only one wanting to trot those beanies into a club.
Mr. Lagerfeld is fine-tuning an attitude with each passing season, reinventing Chanel to make it relative and relevant to the high-profile jet-setting youth of today. He’s updated his muses, adding faces like Cara, Rihanna, and Miley to his iconic list that includes names like Inès, Linda, Claudia and Kiera. The clothing and accessories exist to amplify that shift in attitude- the touseled, devil- may- care looks are ingredients in the ongoing process of Chanel’s reinvention.
Spring 2015 shows just how determined Mr. Lagerfeld is to update Chanel’s look. The Kaiser sums up his outlook for the upcoming seasons perfectly, “Keep the best, forget the rest,” he said after the show and in many ways it’s a good idea for us all to hold on to.
Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture
This is one of the shows that really surprised me since for the past few seasons I’ve viewed J.P.G.’s collections as rehashed versions of his work from the 80s and 90s. Spring 2015 was really no different in that respect, but this season’s collection was refreshing- and that’s mainly because it focused on brides. Entitled 61 Façons de Se Dire Oui (61 Ways to Say Yes) Monsieur Gaultier’s showing premiered 61 looks that are sure to fill the dreams of any happy bride- to- be… and the whole wedding party besides!
There was something for everyone and J.P.G. came out in joyous full force with a diverse collection! There were his signature ‘hybrid’ looks (tailored men’s suits or sheaf dresses on one side and voluminous draped ball gowns on the other or full gowns spliced with denim jeans)- pure Gaultier, chic suits, hot pants, tailored jackets, full skirts in silk satin and chiffon, sheer blouses, embellished jackets, shift dresses and gorgeous gowns. There were his trademark fetish looks in leather and net, reworked into minxy numbers for day and adapted into sexy confections of satin corsets and crinoline cages for night.
This was a show for fashion forward, risk taking brides- there were jackets in exotic skins and fluttering dresses in bright python- patterned paillette facsimile. It was upbeat, rowdy, spunky and whimsical- like I said, pure Gaultier. It was an overblown, silly show but it was fun and I enjoyed reviewing it so much because it looked downright joyous. If anything. it was particularly enjoyable because everyone enjoys a good wedding!
A relative newcomer to the Haute Couture Runways, Ms. Sergeenko’s shows have consistently provided attendees and reviewers with an elaborate dose of kitsch. The Russian designer has been reveling in her love for native dress for the past few seasons- and in many ways, it’s one of her greatest strengths since her collections are often mind-numbing in exquisite hand done detailing and minute ornamentation.
Ulyana Sergeenko has also consistently looked back to her home country for design inspiration, and thank goodness, because does she ever interpret them well! Her style is dramatic and her offerings have often evoked thoughts of the imagined wardrobe of a 20th century Tzarina. This drama gives her work a strong signature, but beautiful as they are, I’ve always thought her clothes to be a bit kitsch and extremely costumey. There are certainly women who appreciate her regal sense of drama when it comes to daily dressing, but for many of us, her aesthetic is just too strong most of the time.
That said, Spring 2015 is her most impressive collection to date. She’s toned down the drama, easing some of the excess out of her designs, while retaining the impressive details that have so far been the highlights of her work. She’s streamlined shapes, but retained her trademark hourglass corsetry and bell-shaped skirts- albeit in much less elaborate and fussy incarnations. To me, Ulyana Sergeenko’s Spring 2015 is somewhat reminiscent of vintage Dior- more whimsical and a bit less polished, but the comparison is there.
For S/s 2015, Ms. Sergeenko has chosen to draw upon the cultural impact that Armenia and Georgia have had on her. This is especially evident in her use of prints, patterns and exacting techniques- cultural aspects that those countries are famous for. There were prints galore: Harlequin checks, stripes, graphic florals- Ms. Sergeenko had all these motifs hand embroidered rather than relying on patterned fabric. Ornamentation was similarly hand-worked, with every piece of lace, every stitch of decorative embroidery and every crystal and tassel being constructed and applied by hand- it’s dizzying in detail!
Overall, I’m impressed with this collection. While the kitsch factor remains strong in Ms. Sergeenko’s work, it’s not as overwhelming as it has been in previous releases. It’s great for editorial work and there are some looks that would look fantastic worn on the Red Carpet, but I’d say there’s always room for improvement. On the whole it’s her best, and most clear sighted collection to date. I look forward to seeing even more of what she has to offer!