Fashion, Shows

Fashion Flashback: Alexander McQueen SS07

This is one of the most iconic Alexander McQueen collections due to the finale dress. Made with real flowers that rotted off during the show, the dress was meant to represent the idea that beauty decays and is not forever. This particular piece has been analyzed time and time again by fashion scholars, museum exhibitions (Savage Beauty, for example), and die hard fashion kids on Tumblr. However, the rest of the collection is just as extraordinary. Overwhelmingly pretty and romantic, the collection is a standout from the designer and in my top three favorite shows of his.

I feel like we just don’t see runway shows like this anymore. Clothing is much more commercialized nowadays with things ready to be worn straight off the runway and on Instagram. You can’t imagine people wearing McQueen’s designs for likes, because they weren’t that kind of pieces. People often debate whether fashion is an art form and with McQueen’s designs it is easy to argue that it is. He created beautiful, intricate, museum-worthy pieces that were not made just to be sent to retailers to sell on the shop floor. If you see McQueen in Barneys it won’t look identical to the runway pieces because they make modifications to make the collection more sellable and wearable for the everyday customer. I’m so curious as to what this collection will have looked like in the stores because you know the big gowns will have been changed, but I wonder by how much.

 

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Fashion, Shows

Fashion Flashback: Balmain SS09

Continuing on the same vein as last month, I’m showing the Balmain collection from the next season. I just wanted to stay on the same brand because I have noticed something interesting about Balmain recently, and please correct me if I’m wrong. Looking at last month’s Met Gala, I don’t recall a single celebrity being dressed by the brand. That was surprising to me because for the past two or three years Balmain has been a constant presence on the red carpet at events of all calibers. Previously they have dressed Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner for the Met Gala but this year Jenner wore Versace and Kardashian wore Vivienne Westwood. Furthermore, I have actually noticed less of Balmain on social media. It doesn’t seem to be as buzzy a brand nowadays, with Saint Laurent overtaking for the embellished pieces (I’d say). Is Balmainia over? What happened to Olivier Rousteing’s legion of famous friends and fans?

I think the lack of interest in Balmain at the moment is because their styles have been ripped off by fast-fashion brands too frequently for people to want to spend that much money on them now. Look at the off-the-shoulder bodycon dress that Kylie Jenner wore. It retailed for over $100 yet you can buy a near identical copy for $25 online, plus you can get it in just a shirt or in a jumpsuit. Moreover, the expensive embellished pieces seem almost wasteful now as they make so much of an impact that they’ll never be worn more than once. This is fine if it’s just celebrities wearing them on the red carpet but if it is actual customers purchasing the items it seems silly in a way. I could be wrong about all of this because this is just based off of my observations.

In terms of the SS09 collection, I think Christophe Decarnin was at the top of his game. The pieces are every rock chick’s dream. They are super glam but in the coolest way possible. The colors are great. There is a perfect mix between distressed elements and formality. 9 years later, these styles still feel fresh and would not look out of place on the catwalk nowadays. I’m obsessed with the green dress worn by Natasha Poly with the huge shoulder pads and glittering gems. Plus, I’m a sucker for Madonna so I dig the soundtrack of the show. I like how the models all have multiple looks and how the casting is so great (all of my mid-2000s faves in one place). Honestly, there is not too many things I can fault.

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Fashion, Shows

Fashion Flashback: Yves Saint Laurent Spring 2007

Let me start this off by saying I’m so into the runway. It’s like a meadow. So interesting. The length of the catwalk is covered entirely in violet flowers, making it perhaps a dangerous but nevertheless beautiful sight. From what I recall, no models fell which is a feat in itself.

Stefano’s tenure at YSL isn’t discussed too much nowadays. I think this is because of the extreme rebranding done by Hedi Slimane (most obviously, renaming the line). Now that Hedi has departed and Anthony Vaccarello is holding down the fort, I feel like Stefano’s contributions will be looked over even more. As a kid, when I seen celebrities wearing YSL, it was Stefano’s designs. I actually liked him, although I did prefer Hedi. It’s just cool to think that the tulip skirt silhouette that was so popular for a few years in the noughties was reintroduced by him. The effect that individual designers have on fashion is not often noticeable until a few years later, unless they are producing a shift of seismic proportions a la Demna Gvasalia.

My favourite looks from the show:

 

See full collection here.

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Shows

Fashion Flashback: Prada Fall 2005

Prada released their entire archives online sometime last year. When I first looked at it I was in heaven. Prada has always been one of my favourite brands. Ever since I knew there was such a thing as luxury, I knew Prada. I’ve always wanted to buy into that lifestyle. This collection is one that I could’ve purchased an entire wardrobe from and is actually one of my favourites in the brand’s history. It is stripped back and wearable, not like the sometimes overstyled collections we see nowadays. I still adore Prada and gravitate towards the pieces when I see them in editorials or in stores but I do often feel a little overwhelmed by the runway show’s styling.

 

The collection is as close to minimalism as Prada can be and is full of pieces that would work on a day to day basis. Being devoid of bright colours and wild prints brings an entirely different feel to this brand. In fact, I find it very Max Mara. Some may find that slightly insulting as not everybody sees the two brands as standing on the same level but I love them perhaps just as much as each other. For one, they’re both luxurious, glamorous Italian brands, although Prada is just more kooky.

I know I mention this with almost every mid-2000s collection that I post, but I just adore the models. I wish models nowadays were cut from the same cloth as Sasha Pivovarova and Freja Beha. Mid 2000s models have received a somewhat cult following on websites like Tumblr and I have to admit that I am one of the fans. I wonder who, out of the current batch of girls, will stick out from shows in 10 years time like these girls do. I think the anonymity of the older models helped their career longevity. You didn’t get sick of a model the same way you do now. Plus, they didn’t have social media (which can both make and break a girl – e.g. Gigi Hadid versus Ondria Hardin).

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Shows

Fashion Flashback: Michael Kors Collection Fall 2008

Let me start this off by saying I’ve never been the biggest fan of Michael Kors as a brand. The main reason for this is my perception of the brand – slightly cheap with too much obvious branding, bought by often rather tacky people who think they’re buying into great luxury and design innovation – which really reveals my snobbery rather than much else. The reason for this is the low prices of the accessories and the mid-market retailers which stock them – TK Maxx (or TJ Maxx if you’re outside of the UK), for example. I also don’t like seeing his bags in high end stores alongside the originals that he copied them from (Prada, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, and Celine to just name a few) for prices that will obviously appeal to a broader market, hence the oversaturation of some popular styles. In my opinion, if you’re going to buy a designer inspired bag just buy the high street version instead of wasting money on a contemporary designer who blatantly ripped it off for profit. It just makes the customer look foolish.

I feel that I am sometimes a little harsh on Michael Kors. I do wish he had a little bit more originality, especially when it comes to his accessories as I can imagine they are his highest performing category. In fact, I think I’m altogether too dismissive of the brand. The clothes aren’t ugly. Many would fit into my wardrobe well, actually. A few times I’ve been browsing online and have seen things from Michael Kors that I actually like but the items are often spoiled by logos and branding, especially if it is in one of the lower end ranges like Michael Michael Kors: the shoes have unnecessary little silver buttons on the counter (the little bit at the back which holds your heel in place) and the pants – just crepe jogger style pants – have silver MK branding on little tags that are intended to be kept on. This bothers me because I just want things plain.

However, things are changing for MK. Recent reports have revealed that Nordstrom, in the US, have dropped the handbag line from “nearly half of [its] stores” due to quality issues and constant discounting. Perhaps this then spurred the brand to announce that it was scaling back its department store offerings and focusing more on selling in their own retail stores, around 65%  which will allow the brand to control its image. Being on sale all the time isn’t good for a brand’s value as it means customers will no longer be willing to pay full price, ultimately hurting profits. Think about it, how many brands do you refuse to pay full price for because you know it’ll be discounted sometime soon either on a sale website like The Outnet, on the brand’s own website, or on a department store?

In light of the fact that MK will perhaps be re-positioning itself and building up brand value again, I have decided to throw it back to a time before the MK brand was tarnished and became associated with teenage girls, oversized watches, and bargain bucket prices. This is the Fall 2008 collection which is actually one of my favourites of his. The retro vibe and expensive feel make this show worth looking at. I loved the fur, the sexy wiggle skirts and the 50s silhouettes which gave the collection a Hitchcock blonde feel. Parts of the show felt very Max Mara to me, like an American doing Italian. Italian fashion is often my favourite because I think the designers can usually make the woman look feminine and sensual without being overtly sexy or tacky. Also, I feel that these clothes were made for adults instead of teens. That is not to say that his clothes is made for teens nowadays, just that is the main audience who seems interested in him nowadays. Of course, I don’t have the same customer breakdown that department stores have so perhaps I am way off with this assumption.

After viewing this collection and loving it, I can only hope that MK produces more like this in the future and shies away from the lower-end, lower-price point items that I feel are only hurting his brand in the long term. If you want to be thought of as a high-end brand, I think the brand message needs to be consistent and somewhere along the line things have gone slightly off track.

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Shows

Fashion Flashback: Balenciaga Fall 2013

Amidst rumours surrounding Alexander Wang’s departure from Balenciaga last month, I thought it would be a good time to throwback to his first collection for the brand. Wang’s appointment has always been slightly controversial. I have to say that I’m a fan of him, both his work for his own brands and Balenciaga, but I know that a lot of people are not. They say he doesn’t have the range or the talent to design for his own brands and a house as big and famed as Balenciaga. It didn’t help that he was following in Nicolas Ghesqueire’s footsteps – he’s a hard act to follow.

However, even looking at the first collection, I don’t think Wang has done a bad job. He tried to go back to the house’s DNA, something that designers taking over a fashion brand often do (think Raf Simons at Dior), but he has slightly strayed from that in the collections that have followed. To be honest, I understand why some people don’t like his work for Balenciaga. There was one season that I didn’t even care about it, Fall 2014 I think.

Anyway, this may not be the most groundbreaking collection, nor will it be one of Wang’s most remembered collection, but I did think it was one to consider, especially if it might be one of Wang’s few for the house. And hey, maybe his critics are right. Perhaps he should stick to his New York aesthetic. Either way, I love Alexander Wang. View the full collection hereContinue reading

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