Maison Margiela SPRING 2020 READY-TO-WEAR

Maison Margiela

Lest we forget, John Galliano is a British man living in France. Among all the noise and polarized positions generated by Brexit, one of the slogans frequently voiced by the right is that British independence is “what we fought for in the war”—a trigger phrase which totally ignores the fact that the fight was against the forces of fascism in Europe. His Spring collection was a timely salute to the ordinary young men and women—the nurses and airmen, the army and navy boys—who stepped up to win the victory against Nazism in alliance with the French Resistance in occupied France.

The march of the Margiela liberation army is all about what’s going on today, of course.

“Reverence for the lessons of history and what they taught us,” read a thought line in his press release. “Stories of hope, heroines, and liberation are forgotten as history draws ever closer to repetition.”

Call to witness his first volunteer, a nurse in a navy serge cape, white hospital sleeves, and a gray serge pencil skirt. Second, a girl in a black dress with a veiled hat trimmed with a feather, somewhere out of the ’30s or ‘40s—maybe one of those chic-against-the-odds Frenchwomen of the Resistance who went about their undercover work carrying secrets and explosives in their sensible handbags.

Later on, when a couple of girls came out with poufs of fabric floating behind them, you had to wonder: Were those partial evening dresses or vestiges of the parachutes used by that secret army of female agents who dropped behind enemy lines? Where there was jewelry, it was in the form of decorations, medals, pins, and military stripes.

The fact that Galliano turned to exploring uniform—the ultimate built-to-last clothing—chimed with fashion’s current drive to put forward clothes with substance and value. In recent seasons, his consciousness of the digital world, social media, and what the Gen Z interns bring to his studio has sent him into explorations of creative chaos. This still wasn’t a collection of literal costume narrative—there were layerings of coats with holes—but the feverish fragmentary collaging and back-to-front and upside downness of recent shows were largely gone, replaced by a sense that this is a time for shaping up and showing what you stand for—skills and beliefs included.

What he showed is that he’s a tailor who cuts it with the best, be that in a man’s civvy-street double-breasted pinstriped jacket, or a subverted airman’s uniform, the jacket cropped to the midriff over way-up-high pleated trousers.

Somewhere in the mix too, there was a pure white mackintosh, made-in-Britain trad as its most timelessly classic. There is plenty to be proud of in heritage, he seemed to be saying, but that includes the right to freedom of self-expression, inclusive of defending the LGBTQ+ rights that have been enshrined in law—only very recently—since Europe has been united. It was exuberant; it was fun; it was a celebration of male eroticism—a platform for everyone’s right to camp it up in vertiginous platform knee boots. Somewhere in there too was the hope that all that progress won’t have to be fought over again.

Source: VogueRunway




If invitations give some hints to a collection’s mood, the one sent by Alessandro Dell’Acqua for his No. 21 Spring show left room for interpretation. A pair of men’s briefs in see-through nude net tulle arrived encased in a clear PVC envelope. Slightly puzzled by the message, I asked the designer backstage to expand on the subject. “It’s just a provocation,” he said. “But it can come across as a not-too politically correct statement. The briefs are masculine but can also be worn by a woman. So what? There’s too much bigotry and moralism around these days. There’s zero tolerance for too many things. I think it’s time to say basta!”

Dell’Acqua rounded the message by referencing the famous collection du scandale, designed by Yves Saint Laurent in 1971—at the time it made waves with its overt erotic tones, while launching the couturier into the fashion stratosphere. “It’s one of my favorite collections of all time,” said Dell’Acqua. Its spirit of sophisticated transgression appealed to the designer, resonating with his penchant for insouciant eroticism.

The coed Spring collection, a first for Dell’Acqua, had un undone, provocative feel, with a certain disheveled polish thrown in for good measure. Flowing dresses in microfloral-printed, washed, sweet-hued chiffon—primrose, candy pink, pea green—looked deceptively demure, but their billowy sleeves were slit to reveal the arms with apparent nonchalance. Pleated skirts were buttoned-unbuttoned askew on one side, exposing the legs. Floral shirtdresses were worn as if they were one-shouldered; diagonal slits on bodices revealed a lingerie top underneath. Even tailored blazers got their dose of unraveling, with sleeves mercilessly cut open. The look felt pretty sensual, confident, and alluringly elegant, without crossing the line into being too obviously, boringly seductive.

Lately Dell’Acqua has introduced an atelier-like feel in his No. 21 collections, working on more substantial volumes with rich, luxurious fabrics like cady, gazar, silk cloqué, and duchesse, yet he has kept the attitude modern, feminine, and unfussy. Here he continued the play on short balloon shapes and abbreviated hourglass silhouettes embroidered with crystal ribbons, nicely contrasting the fluidity of drapings and asymmetries or the playful strictness of tailoring. It made for a convincing exercise in style dynamics.

Menswear was infused with a feminine, nonconformist vibe; suits were cut sharp but softened by micro-floral allover prints and worn with baggy, slouchy Bermudas or overstretched, open-cut-sleeve knits. As for the invitation briefs, they’ve apparently proved a success. “They’re in great demand! People are asking for them,” said Dell’Acqua. “I’ll probably have to start a production.”

Source: VogueRunway


Assembly New York SPRING 2020 READY-TO WEAR

Making the old feel new again is Greg Armas’s specialty; since he founded Assembly New York, his eye for vintage has largely informed his designs for men and women. Spring 2020 found him thinking about early rave culture, which thrived on reworking 9-to-5 style for after-hours with wild accessories. He interpreted the concept quite literally by mixing his signature suits and shirting with chunky boots and shield sunglasses. There was a new, graphic energy in the zebra stripes and tie-dyed jeans, too, but if you took everything apart, each piece was still inherently wearable. That’s another Armas specialty: clothes that are easy to wear in “real life,” but still feel interesting.

On that note, an oversize, single-sleeved white button-down would pair just as well over a tank and trousers (as shown here) as with jeans. Less intuitive was the abstract bandeau-and-skirt set, but Assembly customers who enjoy layering will get a kick out of Armas’s suggestion to layer a clashing blouse underneath. The designer said he felt he took the biggest risk with color: “I like to challenge myself every season,” he explained. “Aqua and lavender are tones that I’ve never really played with.”

On the men’s side, Armas pointed out a classic blazer embroidered with real keys, a nod to “latchkey kids” who wore house keys around their necks when their parents worked late. He even included one of his own keys, which opens a longtime friend’s house in Los Angeles. “If you were a kid, you may have only had one, but if you’re a bit older, you might have five or six different keys, which are all represented on this special tuxedo jacket,” he said. The concept was mirrored on a pair of jeans as well. Those keys weren’t the central story of Spring, but they added a nice personal touch.

Armas’s love of vintage extends beyond those retro concepts and silhouettes: This season, he reported that 90 percent of the fabrics were upcycled or repurposed. It’s a New Age trend rooted in the past, and it’s gaining popularity this season as fashion attempts to address its massive impact on the environment.

Source: VogueRunway




Not far from where Mark Thomas and Thomas Cawson staged their second runway show for Helmut Lang the brand today, an exhibition of Helmut Lang the man’s latest artwork was opening. Lang walked away from his company 15 years ago, and in the interim, it’s gone through its fair share of incarnations. Perhaps because of the significant amount of time that’s passed or maybe because of the recent success of the reissue concept, Thomas and Cawson are taking a very faithful approach to their reimagining of this famous label.

The reissue is a divisive concept. On the one hand, it’s a clever way to address youthful FOMO, on the other, it’s a design cop-out that doesn’t push the conversation forward. The pros see smart money and the cons insist fashion must reflect the present situation or it risks becoming costume. As with so many things, there’s a generational divide. The olds raise an eyebrow, but the youngs turn up in droves. Today, Jeremy O. Harris, Maisie Williams and her new boyfriend Reuben Selby, Charlie Plummer, Lucky Blue Smith, Selah Marley, and Paloma Elsesser all sat in the front row.

Millennials, it would seem, are the target customers. But in fact, what Thomas and Cawson are up to looks good enough that the Helmut faithful might be intrigued. Absent a few dresses that read too sweet, this was an accurate accounting of Lang’s signatures: the minimal tailoring, the utilitarian parkas, the sheer elements, the chromed leather, the touch of latex kink, the denim shapes. Reproducing the electricity of anticipation that used to course through Lang’s show spaces is a much harder trick to pull off. And it’s probably not fair to ask it of Thomas and Cawson. Lang was an original.

Source: VogueRunway



Inspired by the vibes of 1970s Soho, Elie Tahari’s collection at NYFW September 2019 emits an electric energy that melds the industrial and creative worlds into one. As an ode to The City That Never Sleeps, textures and patterns evoke a vibe that contrasts urban with artistic, lighting the stage with a vibrancy that can only be described as “New York.”


Alyx Spring 2020 Men's and Women's Collection

Matthew Williams of 1017 Alyx 9SM (his brand’s full name) didn’t seem to attach much meaning to his venue—a stunning, modernized bank building—yet two words projected loud and clear: big and business. This is what Alyx is fast becoming and what the combined men’s and women’s collections encapsulated with their assertive silhouettes and high-fashion positioning.

As the penultimate show of a strong week, Alyx was something to behold, arousing the glory days of Thierry Mugler in the 1980s while attracting the next-generation crowd that has brought incontrovertible energy back to Paris. For now, at least, Williams is committing to a more formal form of urban than his peers. For him, tailoring is not just an outward statement, but an inward reflection of mastery. “Tailoring is a really difficult thing to do as a young brand,” he said. “Some of the construction we’re attempting to do is trying to find our own language. I think it’s a nice challenge to define what that is for us.”

Arguably, his challenge is how to achieve that difference without appearing over-designed. From past visits with him, before he switched to a show format, he revealed his process as methodical, almost obsessional for the way he will privilege one detail over another. Chances are, he vetoed at least a dozen chains before landing on the one that repeats as a parabolic flourish on several of these looks. Other details—elongating panels, zippered knees, hammered hardware, sculpted heels—were fine-tuned in order to be fully integrated, not gratuitous. Elsewhere, outdoorsy pieces that harked back to earlier collections blended in while the draped dresses towards the end remained slightly unresolved.

But that’s just surface stuff; anyone who read the accompanying notes would have learned about the metal hardware sourced from a sustainable factory, the near-waterless leather-dyeing process, the three-dimensional printed seams and myriad more examples of innovation adding functional and psychological value to the clothes. Or, as stated in this succinct yet thorough document, “We engage with systems, scales, and soul.”

Williams, for his part, also suggested the designs gain dimension from those wearing them. “Our casting is a real mixture of models and friends and family—those people’s energy really brings out the clothes.” See Model 54, aka his wife Jennifer, who wore a croc-embossed jacket (the treatment of the season) and a corresponding translucent skirt. Enough of the guests knew her that cheers echoed through the space as though she were an international celebrity. It was a telling moment. Alyx, now acting all grown up, remains as independent and in-the-know as always.



Off-White Spring 2020 Menswear


The opening look and most of the closing, women’s included, at this Off-White show were made in collaboration with the New York artist Futura—aka Lenny McGurr. His vivid spray strokes and sleekly alien Pointman figure were incorporated as print or jacquard into suiting, soft trenches, cycling vests, denim, a blanket, and evening dresses. As Virgil Abloh sketched it in his long sentences backstage: “In his lifetime, and in the culture that we come from, which is a segment of hip-hop and graffiti, [his work] started out being seen as a form of vandalism, not art. . . . But as well as painting on the side of subway trains, he was part of the scene and showed with Basquiat and Keith Haring. . . . . He was on what was once thought of as the fringe. . . . but now, through time, we can see that the beauty of Basquiat is also the beauty of Lenny, Futura.”

That transition from the counterculture—the fringe—to become both the subject of establishment acclaim and an agent of change within the establishment mirrors Abloh’s own path: In the 10 years since he was photographed by Tommy Ton with Kanye West and crew outside Comme des Garçons, Abloh has completed the full loop. But reflecting on the longer span of Futura’s journey—combined with his own recent project curating his past body of work for the “Figures of Speech” exhibition in Chicago—has made Abloh consider a bigger picture. “When I make things, I look at it on a scale of 30 years. What gives the esteem and the energy . . . I know the work has to mean something now, but I’m also thinking about what it means when you zoom out.”

There was certainly a sense of space in time in some of this collection. Its span of reference was broad but as legibly interconnected as the branding on the new Nike Dunk, codesigned with Futura, that made its debut on Abloh’s carnation-field runway. The chain-link fence pattern on bags, jackets, and a semitransparent poncho played nicely against the densely hand-knit sweaters that bore patches declaring membership in the “Off-White climbing club.”

Climbing was not only this collection’s second big theme—reflected in the drawstrings worked into suiting, the technical luggage, and the nylon patched knit faux fleeces—but it was also part of the broader metaphor at play. A sky blue suede trench with detachable front pockets, a double-layered floral-print down jacket and shorts, a chain-link knit off-white shirt and shorts, plus the recut denim template workwear in washed and treated technical fabrics were all highly polished and finished pieces. Conversely, the tie-dyed cargo pants (sometimes crystal set) and denim, the bandana-patched T-shirts, those dense knit sweaters, and bleached flannel shirting were all designed to appear roughened and weathered.

In a piece of tape played before the show, Bjork spoke about the “spaced-outness” of perspective, nurtured through the landscape of Iceland, that helped her learn songwriting. Abloh seems to be in search of a similar panoramic point of view—an apex position—and the topography of the clothes he is producing as he makes that ascent is benefiting from it.

Source: VOGUE