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The first weekend of January 2019 kicked off Men’s London Fashion Week with a series of trends that continued to dominate the shows in Milan and Paris. Lakshmi Sreedhar gives us the low-down on these key trends and how they’re playing out on runways around the world.
London Fashion Week always has so much to offer, it can be hard to pick out the highlights. Here are a few moments that stood out however, most notably for their ability to start a conversation and use fashion as a platform for change. The use of plastic was one such theme and there were many other politicised moments this year. Here are the things you don’t want to miss…
With firm roots in Britain, Belstaff’s collection showcased several leather-inspired looks, keeping up with the Brexit political scene. In spite of the creative director, Sean Lehnhardt-Moore, being away from Britain for almost 15 years, he seems to have made a great comeback. As he told Elle, “that everyone aspires to be: an independent soul with an adventurous spirit and a love of travel inside and outside of the city.” This could be seen in his collection featuring jackets, coats, knitwear, detachable collars and double-faced khaki waterproof trench coats.
Let’s just say Charles Jeffrey Loverboy is a true lover of theatrics. For the Fall 2019 show called “ Darling Little Sillies” which took place on the banks of River Thames, the theme was a combination of Peter-Pan and a 1920’s cabaret. Chandeliers, actors, bathtubs, tartan suits, jewelled coats and sweaters were seen on the runway.
Craig Green’s show featured an array of plastic in different shades, with a toxic masculinity to accompany the outfits. Worth mentions include, Liam Hodges’ “Mutations in the 4thDimension” show which saw geometric elements and focused on dystopia, showcasing the unique tie-dyed pieces. Other collections like A-COLD-WALL by Samuel Ross and the tech-savvy extravaganza by Paria Farzaneh, stood out.
It’s not only in London, however, that fashion week seems to have hit a new high. Here’s my take on the memorable moments in Milan…
Moving onto Milan Fashion Week, Ermenegildo Zegna opened the men’s show at an incredible venue- Milan’s most popular train station, Milano Centrale. Alessandro Sartori, Zegna's artistic director included fabrics like cashmere, suede, nylon and wool. MSGM’s Massimo Giorgetti chose bold shades like red, orange and intermittently balanced it with mute colours like pink and white.
Unlike last year’s final London Fashion Week show, Billionare’s AW19 show was far from animal-free. With a collection featuring mink, crocodiles and silk accompanied by the picturesque setting of the Palazzo del Santo. Jumpsuits, trousers, pants and bathrobes- whilst using animal’s for aesthetics can never be condoned, the show itself was impressive! Let’s hope we see more in the future- without the animal cruelty.
Fendi’s show mirrored Lagerfeld with dual mixed half-and-half outfits like jackets and sportswear. The final show in the Milanese calendar was Sartorial Monk whose show featured Italian silhouettes and introduced a fine style of a jacket with a hood- joodie.
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On September 12th this year, the British Fashion Council announced a fur-free runway for the first time ever at this year’s LFW Spring 2019, thereby setting a new global standard. This doesn’t mean an outright fur ban, just that this year’s participating design houses chose not to use fur. Lakshmi Sreedhar unfolds this statement for us and keeps us ahead of the curve with what looks to look out for this spring.
So, what are the looks to bookmark now for your next season wardrobe? The past week featured debuts, reappearances and the revamp of one very famous label, all in the space of five fun-filled days.
Alexa Chung, for a change, was behind the scenes this year, instead of front row. Her “Arrivals and Departures” collection was every woman’s dream holiday closet, with midi-dresses, safari style outfits, comfy jumpsuits all in the shades of the 70’s vibe. The subtle, classic, simple prints spoke elegance in itself.
A 10-year anniversary celebration marked Victoria Beckham’s non-retrospective collection this year. After a decade of presenting at the New York Fashion Week, the talented designer decided to save the main milestone for the first time in London. The iconic midi-dresses, custom-made blazers, tailored jackets, spaghetti straps, scarlet dresses, back slips and the ever-present classic sharpness of any Beckham outfit did not go unnoticed. It was the skinny ankle-split trousers, however, worn by Beckham herself, that I think will be the biggest hit of SS19 VB collection. As usual, her husband, David Beckham and their four kids were present to cheer her during the show and later for the victory lap.
Riccardo Tisci, the new chief creative officer for Burberry was quoted saying at this year’s show, “This show is a celebration of the cultures, the traditions and the codes of this historic fashion house and of the eclecticism that makes up the beautifully diverse United Kingdom.” The show began with an agglomeration of pencil skirts, blouses and trench coats. As the music got faster, so did the skin-tight skirts, corsets and vinyl coats. But although most people were impressed by the opening of the Burberry show, they were left somewhat disappointed in the latter half.
Fashion designer, Julien Macdonald, sticking to his style showcased a collection featuring shades of black and silver, with pops of yellow and tangerine. Model Winnie Harlow walked in a silver swimsuit type style. As Vogue aptly put it, his show was more party-oriented wear than professional. His impressive workmanship did not fail, but ultimately the magazine gave a negative review due to the excess amounts of cringe-worthy, not-there dresses, with nude, flimsy illusions. They said that it would have been better had there been more subtlety in the collection.
Finally, the last collection worth mentioning was the one by Erdem. It check-marked the basic fashion necessities- fabrics, floral prints and plenty of glamorous gowns. Designer, Erdem Moralioglu said that his most significant inspiration was the works by Fanny and Stella, a pair of nineteenth-century cross-dressers who had an avant-garde approach way back then. Many of the outfits seemed to be a cross between two eras- the opulent Victorian period and the 21st-century fashion. I won’t be surprised to see Blake Lively wearing Erdem soon since she seems to be rocking several suits for her movie promotions and other Hollywood events this month! The mannish tailoring and sexy, floral prints are perfect for any red carpet event or even a business meeting.
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Lakshmi Sreedhar reflects on her five days at the Paris Haute Couture Week, which kicked off on July 1st. Lakshmi desrcibes this as: 'a bewitching peak into the world where fashion meets fantasy for a week, the dates of which are determined by the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode.' The shows are held semi-annually and this year the Haute Couture Fall/ Winter Collection was held in Paris from July 1st to 5th, 2018. Here is everything you need to know about this highlight of the fashion calendar!
The first day saw RVDK Ronald Van Der Kemp, Adeline André, Aganovich, Christophe Josse, Azzaro Couture and show-stopper, Givenchy. After designing the wedding dress for Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, the Givenchy artistic director Clare Waight Keller presented the latest collection for her second couture show, since the beginning of her successful 16-month tenure at the French fashion house.
She is the only woman who managed to bring back the couture collection after the house had dismantled it in 2012. Addressing the remarkable legacy left by the founder of Givenchy, Hubert de Givenchy, she paid tribute to him. The unquestionable finale featured a dress similar to that worn by the character Holly Golightly, played by Givenchy’s muse Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. To set the Tiffany’s scene, Moon River was playing in the background.
The Givenchy show took place in the gardens behind the Archives Nationales with a metallic catwalk, chestnut trees and a hot night with unmasked glamour of the 50s and 60s. Interestingly, there was nothing even remotely similar to the dress worn by Markle on her wedding day to Prince Harry. Models dressed from head-to-toe in silk dresses with the custom- made Givenchy shoulders and robe styles.
Waight Keller wanted to showcase the symbiosis between Givenchy and Hepburn but recast it in a simple version. She was quoted saying, “I didn’t re-watch anything, I just wanted to absorb what I knew”. The most electrifying look was the use of metal which took the form of chokers, and moon crescent-shaped hair pieces. Some of the designs included white silk blanketed by regal purple velvet and feathers; a translucent gossamer coral anorak paired with a belted silver embroidered gown; tri-color gown — white, beige, black with the Xena the Warrior Princess look. The show notes mentioned Hubert de Givenchy’s “mythical oeuvre”, and the relationship between “noble fabrics” and “an untouched natural beauty”.
The second day saw the likes of Schiaparelli, Nourdeddine Amir, Iris Van Herpen, Georges Hobeika, Maison Rabih Kayrouz, Ralph&Russo, Antonio Grimaldi, Giambattisa Valli, Maurizio Galante and Christian Dior.
Staged at Paris’s Opéra Garnier, Schiaparelli’s runway collection had a mystical approach as the lines between the real and the empyrean were blurred, employing animal prints alongside animal-inspired masks, created by Stephen Jones.
In her collection for Christian Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri pulled a page out of Elisabetta Orsini’s book, “Atelier: Places of Thought and Creation,” and commissioned a set of calm white floor-to-ceiling grid. Classical silhouettes, chiffon gowns and light satins. For some reason, Dior was a disappointment; in spite of the collection having scads of pretty dresses, there was not one piece showcased that was memorably breath-taking. There was an intentional dryness in the choice of fabrics like the matte duchesse, double-face, crepe and handwork of macramé, wood bead embroidery, ribbon embroidery.
As Ralph&Russo’s first big statement since the royal wedding, for which they were considered to design Markle’s dress, the collection did not hint even at a subtle bid to win her over for future black-tie occasions. Having dressed the Duchess at the announcement of her engagement, one would think that there would be some kind of link. Instead, their show had an 80s vibe as the runway saw uncanny inspiration from the from the life and closet of Parisian socialite and fashion designer, Jacqueline, Comtesse de Ribes. The bold move promoted the cause of feminism. The designs of the Australian duo ranged from studded red velvet gowns and scintillate cocktail dresses, to royal purple chiffon paired with mustard yellow or scarlet red double duchess draping.
The third day saw two shows each by Chanel, Alexis Mabille, Stéphane Rolland, Julien Fournié, Ulyana Sergeenko, Giorgio Armani Prive, Alexandre Vauthier and Xuan.
For the Chanel Fall haute couture show, Lagerfeld chose the magnificent Institut de France as the venue. The collection was a riveting mix of tweeds, faille pinafores and gauze fabric which conjured the soupçon of the beautiful structures in Paris clouded by the dusky skies, illuminated by the lights of the bateaux on the Seine. “High fashion is about Paris, huh?” queried Lagerfeld.
This season, the runway collection was truly “high profile” featuring long jackets with crystial-borfered zippers, long skirts that unzip to the thigh to reveal provocative miniskirts beneath. As several designers from this year’s show tried to portray an à la Duchess of Sussex style, Chanel’s collection was the epitome of uniqueness. “It is very Paris, it is very French,” Karl Lagerfeld said during a preview. “But you know, French couture is about promoting Paris. It is part of my job.” As WWD witnessed at a preview as Lagerfeld typically conducts previews during fittings, as one model awaited his approval, he mused, “Elle est très élégante, non?” Très élégante, oui.
Armani presented his show at the Italian embassy in Paris, fitting for this Milanese love affair. The runway featured models in pantsuits and evening gowns in black, paired with an interesting choice of jewellery like bright pink earrings. Black velvet, black silk, black satin- the classic Armani style spoke volumes through its elegance and simplicity. While the first fifty models were in some version of black, the next thirty wore fluorescent pink and turquoise with ostrich feather capes.
The fourth day featured exclusive shows by Maison Margiela, Franck Sorbier, Elie Saab, Galia Lahav, Jean Paul Gautlier, Viktor&Rolf, Zuhair Murad, Fendi Couture, Guo Pei and Valentino.
As said by Lebanese designer Elie Saab to CNBC in 2005, “In haute couture [there’s] no limit; we can dream, we can change. The world of haute couture is another world.” The Fall/ Winter haute couture collection was no exception as Saab’s silhouettes remained ethereal evidenced by the massive 80s rosettes spruced up by a blush-coloured high-low gown worn by Cindy Bruna.
Jean Paul Gautlier took the opportunity to pay homage to the celebrated historic Yves Saint Laurent’s ‘Le Smoking’, 10 years after the iconic fashion designer’s death. Smoking was the theme of this year’s couture collection, as a constant wisp was projected behind the male and female models, who walked the runway in an almost exclusively black-and-white collection that was an extension of couture to ready-to-wear.
Maison Valentino offered a parade of liberally extravagant and saturated shades, a how-does-one-even-do-that skill, that in closing the show received a standing ovation and brought a tear to the eye of Mr. Valentino. On behalf of the house, Pierpaolo Piccioli described the show as “Renaissance meets Versailles meets ’60s whatever”. The voluminous hair-dos like that of Priscilla Presley, Greek goddesses, 17th- and 18th-century painting, the controversial films of Pasolini and the photographs of Deborah Turbeville is the best way to describe the runway looks for Valentino’s Fall collection.
Day five saw the Haute Joaillerie collection by Anna Hu, Boucheron, Bvlgari, Chanel, Chaumet, Chopard, De Beers, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Giampiero Bodino, Buccellati and Mikimoto. Exquisite pieces of unaffordable sparkling and delicate jewellery including rings and necklaces were showcased.
My personal favourite this season is a tie between Givenchy and Zuhair Murad. I don’t think there is even one dress featured on the catwalk by either of the brands that I wouldn’t be ‘ready-to-wear’. It was also interesting to watch Cindy Crawford’s daughter, Kaia, make a statement with the stunning hair-do while walking for Maison Valentino.
Stay tuned for NYFW (Men’s)! Xx.
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