Donatella Versace is never one to make a half- assed effort! There is no middle ground in her design- when she decides that she wants a collection that’s full of curves, there is not a straight line to be seen anywhere on the runway. Her Spring 2015 focus was on the seductive curves of a woman’s body and she scalloped, twisted and arched until she achieved a collection that celebrated every aspect of our seductive femininity.
From the very start Ms. Versace aimed to downplay any distractions from her core subject matter- feminine curves. Therefore, she cut embellishments down to the barest minimum so that all the focus would be on the model’s body. The only ornamentation seen in the entire collection appeared towards the middle of the show, first on a series of emoji- embroidered minidresses and then on two slinky jet-embroidered evening dresses. Lace panels and large net cutouts provided the only other departures from a show that was mostly comprised of looks in unadorned but striking shades of black, white, red, and royal blue. To make up for the collection’s stark edge, Ms. Versace further explored her experiments with new silhouettes: skirts were fuller and slightly longer, while her signature skintight dresses boasted flared trains.
To me, this collection had some great pieces, but was a bit of a mess overall. For Spring 2015, Ms. Versace really tried to push the boundaries of her design beyond the house’s expected sex kitten look, but the sad thing is that despite all her efforts, the final collection lacked cohesion and a clear cut message. The clothes were literally all over the place- power suits clashed with tiny minidresses, clingy lace gowns appeared alongside crop tops and dirndl-style skirts… there were sheaf dresses, evening gowns, and towards the end, a series of bodysuits that were more strips of fabric than actual clothes. Even the looks that were more in keeping with her trademark look fell short this season, with those curving cutouts proving to be more of a distraction from the outfit’s taste level than anything else.
Some of her best pieces were seen at the show’s start with two versions of smart black tailleurs- but here too the unusual neckline proved to be a negative factor. Other highlights include a slim one- shouldered sheaf in scarlet silk, a bright blue mermaid gown with a sweetheart neckline and a cutout just below the bust, a black bodysuit topped with rubberized lace (worn by Gwen Stefani to the 2015 Grammy Awards) and a black sequinned minidress.
This was not Donatella Versace’s best show and I think that stems from an underdeveloped central design theme. She really needed to fully explore and define her ideas before taking them to the sample stage, and she should have used a firm editing hand on the runway lineup. With some planning and careful consideration on the design front, I think that she’ll be able to overcome this season’s hiccup in future shows. At the end of the day, she’s an industry icon and we can expect great things from her.
Bouchra Jarrar Haute Couture
Bouchra Jarrar is a largely unknown couturier outside of fashion circles and has been operating under the radar for the past five years. With the lack of truly show stopping evening dresses in her past shows, its really no surprise that her work isn’t more well known, but does the appearance of four in her Spring 2015 show means that she’s finally ready to step into the limelight? I certainly hope so, but I think it may still be a while before we see her work in more exposed situations, publications or red carpets.
It will take a fashion crazy stylist with a keen eye to spot Ms. Jarrar’s silky bias-cut dresses amongst the tide of glitzy confections seen elsewhere on the couture runways this season. But even with such exquisite competition, her designs linger in the minds of reviewers simply because they were free from excess. Ms. Jarrar has always been a minimalist, and her evening looks retain this appeal even with the addition of a few sequins and feathers.
Still Ms. Jarrar did not deviate too far from her usual design paths. She’s always made chic daywear the centerpiece of her collection and as usual it was her main focus with this showing- but with some developments. Miniskirts were new (Ms. Jarrar has always been a trousers type of girl) and her super- short confections with their diagonal zippers are probably the sexiest things spotted on the runways this season. She also injected a little kink into her lineup with some transparent net T-shirts and a spectacular pair of shiny PVC trousers. Signature brand elements provided stability to what was otherwise a deeply progressive collection: a metallic tweed coat with a generous fur collar looked familiar, as did a leather trench- and as always there were Ms. Jarrar’s custom woven fabrics to be seen throughout.
With Spring 2015, Bouchra Jarrar has proved that she’s ready to make her name known to those outside of the high fashion circles. With this collection I think that there’s a good chance that will soon happen. Too fab!
Vikor & Rolf Haute Couture
Victor & Rolf’s couture collections have always been artistic expressions. I’ve always appreciated their wildly creative sentiments and I was happily surprised to see what they came up with for Spring 2015. The entire collection can be simply summed up into one look: a floral-print baby-doll dress, a pair of flip- flops, and a straw hat. It’s the quintessential country girl look, but as always, the duo took the folksy vibe to a completely different level by literally exploding it!
The Dutch duo brought Spring 2015 in with an eruption of shapes, colours and forms that started from the very first look- a pleated A-line dress unfurling from one shoulder and propped up by a voluminous petticoat. It bore a twisting pattern of white flowers outlined in black and blue- a motif repeated throughout the collection but with each subsequent look, the colourless flowers were replaced with vivid hues until they materialized into a hallucination of dimension and color. Flower cutouts took on 3-dimensional forms and were lifted straight off the fabric in voluminous clusters, while singular specimens trailed off the actual dresses to float above and behind them like spectral wings. All the while the models sported magnificent headgear- structural hats made of twisted straw took on unbelievable dimensions, growing until they stretched across the width of the runway.
The collection buzzed with an excessive madcap energy, but unlike the whimsical lilts seen elsewhere on the couture runways, Victor & Rolf’s statement struck a more sinister note. The designers steered the mood towards madness more than anything else: the structural shapes of the clothes became more nightmarish with each passing look, the frantic patterns became increasingly more vivid until they resembled shifting hallucinations, colours jarred and became disturbingly bright and all the while those sprawling headpieces became more and more unbelievable. FAB.
The designers later cited the work of Vincent van Gogh as a direct inspiration for the show… and it’s easy to see his raw, unsuppressed energy pulsing throughout everything that happened on the runway. Yet, those tragic feelings of anxiety and depression that madness invokes were also felt throughout. Spring 2015’s collection really deserves to be titled “wearable art” more than “couture collection” as I can more see it showcased in an exhibition rather than on a clients. Except maybe Daphne Guinness or Björk Guðmundsdóttir…
Victor & Rolf’s Spring 2015 collection mirrored the progressive journey of an unbalanced mind by showing the degrees by which sanity becomes demolished- that’s no easy undertaking for anyone to approach and this duo managed to do this purely through fabric manipulation! This feat becomes even more stunning when you consider the degrees of sensitivity and realism that the duo was able to achieve and the way that their work ended up being downright spectacular to behold. It’s no surprise then to discover that three pieces from the collection have already been purchased for Rotterdam’s Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen by art collector Han Nefkens.
Victor & Rolf took my breath away with their Spring 2015 couture collection. I really think that much of this collection deserves to be placed amongst the great works of contemporary fashion and design masters. I can’t wait to see what the duo comes up with next!