So Milan Fashion Week (more about it in the next few days...hopefully) defied all expectations. Many journalists thought they were going to take part in a funeral, but they actually ended up at a surprise party in full swing.
Most designers presented strong collections, focused on high quality and intriguing inspirations, though, let’s be frank, the interest in new and young designers may not have been too genuine in some cases (there were moments when Anna Wintour and Armani looked as if they had been literally dragged to the Palazzo Morando event by force...) and the catwalk shows in public places were aimed at gaining consumers and not at opening the doors of the fashion Valhalla to ordinary people.
We’re only into the second day of Paris Fashion Week, but in between one or two original collections, some quite beautiful colours and clever shapes, there were also some sparks of banality and a couple of cases of "Rick Owens syndrome".
First the banality: you would have expected something more drastically radical from somebody who won the ANDAM award, but Hakaan went for a mainly white collection featuring his trademark mini-dresses with cut-out motifs, tight jumpsuits and extremely low-cut tops.
So far Hakaan has proved he can come up with perfect creations for very thin women a thing that can be rather limiting and damaging for your business, especially in the long run.
The Rick Owens syndrome is instead a peculiar condition that usually strikes young designers and equally young consumers and consists in favouring an incredible amount of garments inspired by dark, gothic, slightly futuristic, but possibly pessimistic or simply miserable atmospheres.
The layering technique is just one of the symptoms of the syndrome and consists in, well, layering trousers, kilts, T-shirts and jumpers one on top of the other.
Another symptom is the emphasis on precisely asymmetrical (excuse the oxymoron…) hems in jackets/coats and skirts.
Nicolas Andreas Taralis showed both the symptoms in his all black collection, though he tried to add a bit more variation through sheer or perforated garments and exchanging the rigid leather kilt for an ample skirt inspired by the traditional uniforms of Greek soldiers.
Yet the veils that accessorized some of his models were slightly too reminiscent of Rick Owens’ fake hieratic moods from his S/S 2009 collection.
Ann Demeulemeester opted instead for an asymmetrical cut in most of her collection, mainly inspired by a sort of crossover between a parachutist and a fencer’s attire.
The collars of some jackets gave the impression they were bits and pieces of light parachutes wrapped around the models’ neck, while coats and tops seemed to feature removable padded under-arm and breast protectors in perfect fencer-style (also evoked by the final ensembles accompanied by a sort of chic face/fence mask).
In some cases the jackets were maybe a bit too overcomplicated and the skirts with asymmetrical hems were maybe slightly too asymmetrical and looking too awkwardly short on one side and too awkwardly long on the other.
Then there is the Gareth Pugh case: Rick Owens' protégé opted to present his collection once again with a film, screened yesterday at the Parc de Bercy sports stadium and broadcast on SHOWStudio.
Directed by Ruth Hogben and featuring model Kristen McMenamy and a male dancer from the English National Ballet School, the 11 minute-long film made me think quite a bit about the state of fashion (and the state of the fashion film...).
In the film, both McMenamy and the dancer strike sculptural poses, walk and move clad in Pugh’s S/S 11 designs. The film is perfectly shot and the mirror images and morphing techniques employed in it really manage to mesmerise you.
Most of these avant-garde films are indeed shot to sell clothes faster than in shops (you can for example now buy an exclusive scarf from this collection from SHOWstudio's shop) rather than to save money and avoid moving hundreds of journalists, models, stylists and assorted fashion professionals/poseurs from one capital to the other.
But to sell clothes you must be able to show them really really well rather than confuse people with optical images, and to communicate some emotions and, while the film about Pugh's collection mainly proved there was fluidity in the young designer's rigid silhouettes, it also implied they are great for cutting cool shapes.
Shame that ordinary people walking in the street, driving, catching a train, bus, a taxi or travelling on the underground don't usually have the time to stop and cut shapes in the middle of a square, showing how cool they look.
I definitely think fashion and film must work together, but in more emotional ways.
Alexander McQueen reached perfection in his shows: there were films, there were strong images, there was fashion and there were moments when you felt deeply disturbed or moved but what you saw.
With this film Pugh may
have avoided the sort of wardrobe malfunctions that plagued Burberry’s
catwalk show, but it was difficult to really feel emotional about the presentation, no matter how impressive it looked.
Besides, by now we have become very accustomed to his shapes and silhouettes and they were all included in this collection, from the samurai trousers to kimono-evoking jackets; from rigid coats to modular tunics that called to mind sinuous pieces of furniture à la Joe Colombo, suits that seemed to be made with tectonic plates (rather architectural but, mind you, not new), neoprene garments and geometric diamond-like patterns.
Trying to prove he is definitely not into sci-fi, Pugh ended up in a sort of trap of Polly Maggoo-proportions with (well, at least, wearable) dresses in aluminium coated fabrics that will soon appear in the editorial of a magazine near you or be seen on Lady Gaga & Co (though they would be perfect for the gothic remake of Gerry Anderson's Ufo...anybody up for it?).
Well, at least, you could argue, the aluminium dresses didn't show any kind of derivation from Rick Owens. The latter focused mainly on elongated silhouettes by lengthening the hems of his dresses or adding draped and fluid motifs to his designs.
Funnily enough there was one grey ensemble in Owens' collection that looked like a smoother and softer version of a grey suit by Gareth Pugh. Or maybe it was Gareth Pugh's suit that looked like a rigid version of Rick Owens' smoother one? The doubt - about which design came first and about the whole purpose of the infamous "fashion film" in our times - remains...