Calvin Klein Collection

Calvin Klein spring 2014 collection featuring models Vanessa Axente and Clark Bockelman. The spring 2014 collection ad campaign was shot by photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott right here in London.

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Joie Spring 2014 Ready To Wear

According to Serge Azria, Joie‘s Spring ’14 collection was all about celebrating—and elevating—white. “I wanted to make white not so simple,” said the contemporary label’s creative director and CEO during the presentation, which marked the twelve-year-old brand’s second New York fashion week effort. Joie’s new lineup was a palette cleanser, offering a host of easy separates and frocks in every tint of Azria’s chosen hue. He contrasted a stark white elongated blazer with a romantic pleated silk skirt in soft eggshell. Similarly, a sporty bright white sailing jacket popped against an oatmeal and black striped sweater.

Elsewhere, Azria enriched the shade with varying textures, like eyelet—used for a high-waisted cotton pencil skirt—or slick leather, which looked best as a pair of cropped, flair-calf trousers. The concept was applied to accessories, too—for instance, pointed cream and tan leather flats were laser-treated, causing them to look like they were made from stingray.

Inspired by a recent trip to Ponza, an island off the Amalfi Coast, Azria injected his Spring range with an air of vintage Italiana. One linen dress with a fitted skirt and blousy bodice that revealed just enough of the model’s décolleté was simultaneously effortless and va-va-voom. The Mediterranean inspiration also moved Azria to include pops of cerulean and navy. “All of the houses in Ponza were white and the doors were all blue. It looked like a painting!” he recalled. The scene was re-created in his Chelsea show space. He worked indigo into bold stripes, which ran down a three-quarter-length skirt, a billowing short-sleeved blouse, and a structured workwear jacket. An azure brushstroke print on a flippy little jupe was lovely, and a navy drawstring skirt—which was basically a silk, feminine alternative to sweatpants—looked particularly comfortable. Most of the spaghetti-strap and short-sleeved crop tops—while sweet on the models—will be near impossible to wear if you’re of normal human proportions. But a bouncy, open-back A-line frock had “summer classic” written all over it.

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Trussardi Spring 2014 Menswear

Trussardi and Umit Benan, its designer of two years, parted ways after last season; Milan Vukmirovic, its previous steward, managed only a few more. It was hard to escape the sense that the ruling family wanted to keep its decisions made in the family. Maybe that’s hindsight speaking, now that Gaia Trussardi has been named creative director. She was noncommittal on the advantages of the bloodline. “It’s been 34 years that I’ve been breathing it,” she said simply—it being Trussardism, whose dominant characteristics include a belief in the universal applicability of leather. Trussardi has been, for a century-plus, a stalwart of accessories and leather goods. Its Spring collection—warm-weather season notwithstanding—was almost entirely skin as well: thin, supple leather dyed dusty colors, cut into dusters and anoraks, T-shirts and jeans.

Backstage, Gaia was spinning a traveling yarn: A “desert atmosphere,” with “open space, freedom, bright light, a sense of movement,” she said. Her leather pants were loose, pajama-style, not the rock ‘n’ roll sausage casings of yore. “Effortless elegance,” she decreed. That’s a phrase that seems to be applied everywhere these days, but the collection did in fact smack of it. It had less of the distinctive point of view that characterized her predecessors’. Whether that comes with the seasons, time will tell. The desert is wide; the trek’s just beginning.

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Junya Watanabe Spring 2014 Read To Wear

If one designer can make the most vilified, the most ephemeral, the most transitory of things that are normally passed by (while perhaps being scowled at) into full-blown fashion statements that are desirable, monumental, and skilled (leaving you deeply impressed), it is Junya Watanabe. And he did it again in his show today.

Hippies, crusty ravers, anybody who does not wash their hair, claiming, “It will clean itself,” the idea of going to Goa, macramé, home crafts, didgeridoos…and so on. This could be seen as a collection and a show incorporating some of this reviewer’s most vilified things. And yet that would only be on the surface; in the hands of Junya Watanabe, such horrors became a font of fantastic inspiration from which much else followed.

Take as a starting point the humble T-shirt tassel—that fringed decoration most beloved in the beach T-shirt trade and by the bored home customizer. Watanabe used it heavily, immaculately, and to extravagant effect. While many have been using tight accordion pleating for architectural experimentation this season, Watanabe used fringing. It started in black T-shirting silhouettes, fringed to long, extravagant proportions, some precisely braided and beautifully draped. By the time those looks turned beige and gray, there was a sense of the oddly ancient and classical to the collection. The hair might have started as that of the crusty raver, with messy small braids piled altogether, but the connotations were turning into something else entirely.

This is when Aphex Twin’s song “Digeridoo” launched in with complete insistence. It turns out that Richard D. James (Aphex Twin) is not such a fan of the instrument either, and he labored hard to create a similar drone electronically. If anything is a metaphor for what Junya Watanabe does, it’s that. In this collection there was a link between past, present, and future; it was the idea of something changing but forever remaining the same that was defined as “Folklore” by Watanabe.

Now the fringing took on the connotations of the American West, and was simultaneously evocative in the Richard Avedon, Ralph Lauren, and Native American sense. The fringing was joined by delicate, horizontal cascading cuts. Suede, or rather suedette, took the place of buckskin, entirely elegant, especially in one open-backed, floor-length coat-dress. Watanabe’s excellent denim once again featured, and it led back to one of the new folklore figures encountered earlier. Here, wearing extravagant pheasant-feather headdresses, Watanabe’s new tribe finished, with the music swiftly cut. It was a journey through both the playful and profound.

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Céline Spring 2014 Ready To Wear

Back to the Tennis Club de Paris today to see what Phoebe Philo’s Céline woman has been up to. And, according to the mood book on each brightly colored, blocky seat, she has been looking at graffiti—not just any graffiti, but graffiti through the medium of Brassaï’s photographs, obviously. In the primal black and white images of street art found in the city of Paris there was a distinct clue to the mood of the collection.

As the first vividly hued silhouettes emerged, the models walking at a brisk clip to the underlying beat of George Michael’s “Freedom,” the feeling was bold, bold as Brassaï, if you will. But this wasn’t to be a retread of a famous Versace moment. The overlocking song was that Soul II Soul staple “Back to Life,” put through something of the wringer, with all its lazy, hazy connotations of summer in the late eighties. And the collection, too, had the immediacy of that song—and perhaps a bit of a debt to the band’s former shop in Camden, where leather Africa pendants were sold in large quantities.

The color palette had that late-eighties feel of something primary, urgent, graphic. Giant strokes and squiggles dominated in tailored T-shirt shapes over striped sunray pleats. At first, the Céline woman was like a Tony Viramontes illustration sprung to life. But what gave the clothes a real third dimension was the fabric experimentation; here, woven jacquards and knits dominated over prints and were beautifully done. The Céline woman became more intriguing, though, in her embrace of a certain ragga style in the elongated string vest looks, especially when these were layered with a yellow jumper tied around the waist just so. Then she was out of the dance hall and on. Like we said: brisk clip.

Yet, the last eight looks were the best of the collection. They didn’t feel as if they were in the sway of any history or reference point. Utilizing the large T-shirt silhouette, with a cutout in an abstract, metal-rimmed shape revealing the contrasting tunics layered underneath, then ending in a burst of cheesecloth skirt, these particular looks were outstanding.

Perhaps the undercurrent of sensual perversity of the last two seasons has dissipated from the

Céline woman this time. But it seems she will never be that uptight or controlled again; this
show was free, easy, and fun. This mood might be familiar, having already been set in motion by Dior’s Couture collection earlier this year (fashion’s tribes are clearly in the ascendant this season), but it also felt like a collection sprung from real life, from real experiences with a teenage immediacy. Philo defined it as being about “power to women. It was inspired by lots and lots of feelings. It felt like the right time to move on. I never really analyze; it is just what is there inside.” And perhaps that’s the real power of the Céline woman now: She comes from the heart, not the head.

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Vionnet Spring 2014 Couture

There are two ways to approach the task Hussein Chalayan accepted when he signed on to produce a demi-couture collection for Goga Ashkenazi’s Vionnet. Observe and reinterpret the house’s heritage for today or ignore it. It won’t come as much of a surprise to those who’ve followed Chalayan’s boundary-pushing career that he said he had opted for the latter path. “There are so many brands that are old, that are being revived,” he explained beforehand. “It shouldn’t be about revisiting the archives.” Fair enough. To move the fashion dial forward, you have to look forward.

Chalayan chose industrial design as a starting point. Spiral staircases, furniture, electric wires—it was all laid out on a mood board at a preview. In the past, his conceptual approach extended his reach. Here, the “melting shelves” idea he used to create sculptural shapes fell a bit flat. Meanwhile, dresses in a print and embroidery motif derived from patternmakers’ toiles”acomment on dressmaking itself,” he called it—looked stiff.

Some ideas adapted better to clothing design. The spiral staircases morphed into five-layer techno organza bias-cut dresses with single seams and laser-cut concentric circles in varying degrees of sheerness. Technically accomplished and lovely, they made a connection between Vionnet past and Vionnet future: The bias cut is credited to Madeleine Vionnet. Plissé was another hallmark of the house. Chalayan modernized it by printing only one side of the pleats and combining different kinds—sunray, straight, irregular—into halter dresses suspended from harness collars embellished with “electrified” beads. Unlike some other parts of the collection, the vibe here was right.

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Chloé Spring 2014 Ready to wear

Chloé has become the go-to place for a certain girl’s wardrobe, for something polished with punch. An English, boyish discipline added to the French finesse of the house has been in the ascendant. But today the concentration moved more toward the French side, and the more overtly feminine feel of a certain kind of French style. The music might have been loud drum and bass, with all of its hard, mid-nineties London connotations, but this collection felt decidedly rooted in Paris.

“A girl more sensual than before” is how Clare Waight Keller, the creative director of Chloé, defined the muse of her new collection. Softening the boyish toughness she has introduced at the house while not completely eliminating it had been the goal, and she largely succeeded.

Waight Keller seemed primarily concerned with making her point through fabric choices: “A sense of sensuality through transparency,” she said before her show. And there were indeed great fabrics in the collection: super-matte georgette; a patchwork jacquard; light quilting; a rough, more geometric lace. They all added to a certain sense of tough sensuality for the season, as did the more angular silhouettes.

Yes, tight accordion pleats were in evidence in this collection, too. This is the season of the Pleats, Please revival—after it had been Pleats, No Thanks for years. But the Chloé pleated garments were some of the best around. Among the strongest pieces were the tapered-leg khaki trousers with ankle ties, the khaki dress defined by Waight Keller as “flag shaped” with a deep V, and the inset pleats featured in a blue patterned dress, giving a dynamic effect. And the most sensual garment of the collection was pleated, too—a white dress with arm ties, split high at the sides, worn with silk cami-knicker-style shorts. Clare Waight Keller has not produced anything quite that sexy before.

If this collection didn’t quite reach the heights of last season, it really shined in its more boyish and playful moments, such as in the final inset-chain pieces. Overall, it was another accomplished offering at the house, and Chloé’s consistency is no mean feat.

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Armani Prive Spring 2014 Couture

It often takes a while for the rhythm of an Armani collection to get a grip. Tonight’s Armani Privé couture show, the fulcrum of yet another of Giorgio Armani’s One Night Only spectaculars, was no exception. The beginning was casual, tentative: little silk tops with plissé pants or skirts, a silk jacquard blazer paired with a gazar skirt. Then a new dimension kicked in. The models—heads wrapped in scarves, with dangly earrings, in full skirts and low-heeled shoes—began to evoke the gypsy spirit of arch fashion icon Loulou de la Falaise. That is hallowed ground for any designer, given de la Falaise’s goddess/muse status with Yves Saint Laurent. You have to be a titan to take it on. Armani clearly has the cojones to claim the look.

He did it with his default position: navy blue. It’s nonsense that this man is permanently damned with greige. It’s North African navy where he has found his sweet spot—the midnight blue of a velvety desert sky, untroubled by ambient light, alive with stars. Tonight’s collection, named Nomade for all the tribes who drift under heaven’s dome, moved on from midnight to gloss the silveriness of those stars with a Byzantine decorative edge. Alana Zimmer in a sheath of silver with Swarovski-studded bodice and head tightly bound in crystals looked like a Hollywood vamp. It was enough to make you wonder whether the play of dark and light in an Armani collection isn’t ultimately all about the boy Giorgio alone in a movie theater while war rages outside. And if this is the way he exorcises his demons, then all power to him.

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Zuhair Murad Spring 2014 Couture

By one count, Zuhair Murad’s wedding dress alone bloomed with upwards of 25,000 floral appliqués. The mystical garden segment of his collection overall contained a multitude of camellias, roses, peonies, gentian, and more, all shimmering atop gowns, jumpsuits, and cocktail frocks. He added fauna to complement the flora: Black sequins delineated a zebra print, and feathers crept up the neck of a gauzy halter gown. Embroidery on a full-length white caftan revealed a python print down the body and panther spots along the sleeves.

Outside his garden, a grouping of daywear looks featured ivory suiting—pencil skirts, trousers, open jackets—all fronted in a double row of gold buttons. The look was his Parisian ideal, Murad explained before the show. Then he singled out a New Look-style outfit in guipure lace as his synthesis of modern femininity. But if any pieces in the collection adhered to that description, they were the ones that showed off the upper back, their fabric scooped out or cross-strapped like swimsuits.

This was an overzealous collection for the designer, who continues to hold firm to classic, OTT notions of couture. Even his pastel hues appeared extra saturated, as if viewed through an Instagram filter. It feels somewhat Debbie Downer to rain on Murad’s petal parade—and his dolled-up devotees were definitely cheering from the sidelines—but there’s no question he’s stronger when working in a lower register. A couple hundred fewer flowers next time, perhaps.

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Bouchra Jarrar Spring 2014 Couture

It’s official. In December, French fashion’s governing body, the Chambre Syndicale, granted Bouchra Jarrar an haute couture appellation. This was an upgrade from her guest-member status and a seriously big deal. She’s secured a place in couture’s history books, joining the ranks of pre-war women designers like Chanel, Vionnet, Grès, and Schiaparelli. It’s been more than thirty years since a woman was named a grande couturière. Thirty!

And so there was good reason for the newfound swagger in her exuberantly embellished jackets and gilets. “J’ai des oiseaux,” she said backstage. “I have birds.” And she meant it. Jarrar used ivory feathers last season, but here they were packed closely together in natural shades of brown and black or were dyed a gorgeous sapphire blue. There were probably more colors in this show’s plumes than in all her previous collections combined. More crystals, too. They encrusted the front, back, and sleeves of a Perfecto, or, more subtly, were tucked among the long “shard” sequins of a bolero jacket, only now and then catching the light. Jarrar was just as attentive to her tailleurs. A devastatingly precise blazer and redingotes (with sleeves and without) were made from custom-dyed handwoven threads. They gleamed.

On the couture runways, glory tends to come from gowns destined for the red carpet, or maybe a royal wedding. Jarrar, a little like Coco Chanel before her, is obsessive about clothes for everyday, unapologetically so. This season, there were military flares and tuxedo trousers that made a persuasive case for pleats. Glittering accolades? Meh. Ask any woman, there are few things more glorious than a great-fitting pair of pants.

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Viktor & Rolf Spring 2014 Couture

Ballerinas for Bonbon. Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren are launching a new perfume. The ad campaign for Bonbon was projected onto the backdrop at the end of their show tonight; it stars a seated Edita Vilkeviciute, her naked body painted in pink bows the same color and shape as the fragrance bottle, which sits perched on her lap.

In a sweet little piece of cross-promotion, the designers cast members of the Dutch National Ballet as models, dressing them in leotard-tight dresses in nude shades of latex that looked remarkably like real skin, some of which were hand-painted with trompe l’oeil tattoos of ruffles, birds, or those bows. In a week when Schiaparelli was back on the Couture calendar after sixty-odd years, Horsting and Snoeren were the ones to embrace surrealism, draping folds of latex from tattooed bird’s beaks and bows. One short-sleeve asymmetric-hem dress looked like a high-cut bodysuit with a skirt slung over just one hip, leaving the other exposed.
What was rubber and what was flesh? You couldn’t tell. It was the kind of head game that the Dutch duo has always loved.

In recent years, the received wisdom on Couture was that it was basically just a promotional device for a brand’s perfumes. Viktor & Rolf proved the cliché true. Our guess is they got some perverse pleasure out of that.

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Valentino Spring 2014 Couture

Fifty-five looks for fifty-five operas. The Valentino designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli were after something new for Couture this season, and they found it in the age-old tradition of opera. The show opened with a nod to La Traviata; Giuseppe Verdi’s score was embroidered in black on the long, full skirt of a parchment-colored tulle dress. After that, Chiuri explained, “we wanted to describe the character of each [opera’s] protagonist in a primordial way.” By the end, they had called out all the greats: Puccini’s La Bohème inspired an elegant navy cashmere cape and silk crepe sheath. Bizet’s Carmen produced a pleated bronze tulle gown with silver-gray guipure lace embroideries.

Admittedly, the connections were sometimes tenuous, but that didn’t detract from the austere beauty of simply draped silk marocain dresses in earthy shades of sienna, green, and mahogany. Or the divine splendor of a gold thread dress embellished with four thousand smoky gemstones that took twenty-five hundred hours to affix. The monastic and the regal are the twin signatures of Chiuri and Piccioli’s work chez Valentino. Both sides of that aesthetic presumably appeal to Florence + the Machine’s Florence Welch, who was perched near Giancarlo Giammetti in the front row.

The surprise was all the animals—a veritable menagerie of them, or as the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns would’ve had it, a carnaval des animaux. A swan, a snake, and a peacock made from feathers that wrapped around the waistline of ballerina tutus…lions and elephants on a double-face cashmere dress and a coat (not embroidered, mind you, but built into the fabric of the garments, like a puzzle)…even a gorilla and its baby were spotted tucked amid the leather floral appliqués of an organza cape.

The creativity of the set dressers at the Rome Opera House had a profound effect on the duo this season; Chiuri and Piccioli invited the opera’s artisans to paint the show’s runway and backdrop. But if theatricality is a virtue onstage, the more realistically the creatures were rendered here, the better off the clothes were. By contrast, a satin tiger practically pounced off the skirt of the finale dress. The workmanship was second to none, but the designers may have overestimated the big cat’s charms. All in all though, this was another bravura performance.

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Elie Saab Spring 2014 Couture

The nineteenth-century Dutch artist Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema painted scenes from the Roman Empire. His subjects always seemed to be reclining amid marble statuary, and there was a good chance that the Mediterranean Sea was shimmering in the background. Elie Saab set out to capture a bit of that idyllic ambiance with his new couture show. His pastel colors—blush pink, hydrangea blue, and lilac—were lifted from an Alma-Tadema canvas, and the collection’s empire waists and gently draped volumes were suggestive of classical dress.

Saab is synonymous with red-carpet sparkle, and there was plenty of that here, as usual. But perhaps sensing that a refresh wouldn’t go unappreciated, interspersed among his signature embroideries and appliqués were a handful of gossamer-light pleated goddess gowns. Strapless, plunge-front, or one-shouldered, the plissé numbers felt of-this-moment. (A quick study of the
Golden Globes and the SAGs indicate that awards-show bling is trending downward.) Also pretty: a trio of flower-print gowns that shaded from black near the neckline to white at the hem, with countless colorful blooms in between. The panniers at the hips of the silk gazar number gave it a fairy-tale feel, but we could see either of the other two, in gauze or silk mousseline, turning up on a celebrity. It was likewise nice to see Saab move beyond his monochromatic comfort zone with a pair of long dresses boasting fluid skirts in an ombré of violet, citrine, vivid blue, and coral, like an Alma-Tadema sky.

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