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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bohaning Up

Christian Dior has remained one of the most enduring names in modern fashion since his first collection in 1947, in which he reversed the codes of femininity with his famous New Look. Upon his death ten years later, a gifted teenager—perhaps too gifted—took the reins: Yves Saint Laurent. A remarkable shift occurred, but Saint Laurent didn't last long before he exited in a brouhaha involving the army, a broken promise, a lawsuit and another designer by the name of Marc Bohan.

Dior's new star couturier, Bohan remained at the helm for the next 28 years before the arrival of Gianfranco Ferré and John Galliano. A new exhibit at Musée Christian Dior (that's right, he has his own museum) in Grandville, Normandy, showcases Bohan's contributions to Dior over three decades, from the classic elegance of the 1960s, through the bohemian chic of the 70s, to the baroque extravagance of the 80s—and of course his famous collaborations with photographer Dominique Issermann. Through September 20, 2009.

—Laurent Dombrowicz

photo by Dominique Issermann

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Paris Fashion Week: Alexander McQueen

Laurent Dombrowicz...

Despite his Buddhist beliefs, Alexander McQueen doesn't appear to be an optimist. At least not judging from his spring collection, which was all about unnatural shapes and disturbing alien-like forms—a kind of cyborg couture. The catwalk looked like Noah's Arc, with its tableau of stuffed taxidermy animals set against a giant replica of a spinning planet earth. The collection started with a woody trompe l’oeil on amazing frocks, then corsets with embroideries and prints of frozen roses. Kaleidoscope is the word for other prints recalling the Rorschach test. Sequined overalls closed the grand opus, followed by McQueen himself in a disconcerting red-eyed rabbit outfit.

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Friday, October 3, 2008

Paris Fashion Week: Yves Saint Laurent

Laurent Dombrowicz...

In a way, all the fashion world is Yves Saint Laurent's grieving widow. As such, how could the maison present a spring collections and pay tribute to its recently-deceased founder and master who lives on in the hearts of so many? Stefano Pilati, as creative director, is not about nostalgia or commemoration; he is a designer focused on new ideas, as was Monsieur Saint Laurent. His solution was to take Saint Laurent's signatures and give them a modern touch. Transparency, safari jackets, saroual trousers (Marrakech was Yves' paradise and home away from home), tuxedos and padded jackets were transposed with a sleek and edgy style. More seductive than dominatrix, the YSL heroine is, for spring, the most elegant woman on earth.

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Paris Fashion Week: Sonia Rykiel

Laurent Dombrowicz...

“When I was born,” Sonia Rykiel, now 80, has said, "my hair was so red that my mother tried to wash my head with alcohol, thinking I was bleeding. No way! I was already as I am, as red as blood.” In the late 50s, Sonia worked for her father as a window dresser, where she was discovered by painter Henri Matisse while arranging ties—and she became his muse. Ten years later, at 40, during the socio-political revolution of 1968, she started designing under her own name. Her own muse was the Parisian woman. Forty years later, Sonia Rykiel had become an iconic part of the French culture of style. Multicolored stripes, rhinestones, floppy-chic knits, berets, bohemian styling, fur coats, jerseys worn inside out—these are all hers.

For her 40th anniversary show and after-party, mother and daughter (Nathalie Rykiel is the CEO of the company) presented a lifetime of signatures. In tribute, a few dozen of her friends and colleagues were asked to design special pieces. A Martin Margiela coat made out of red wigs and a Jean Paul Gaultier dress that the model, holding knitting needles, appeared to still be making were absolutely divine. Sonia, we love you.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Paris Fashion Week: Maison Martin Margiela

Laurent Dombrowicz...

The man without a face but with the famous white-stitched label founded his "Maison" twenty years ago. In two decades, he and his label changed fashion in such a drastic and deep way that most young designers today describe themselves as his children. And what a birthday it was for the iconic Maison Martin Margiela on Monday; The spring show was a celebration of extreme creativity without pretension. Who else is able to present skin-tone padded overalls, a plastic-bag one-piece or wigs as a fur coat? We only hope MMM—with sunglasses and jewelry already on the market, and soon perfume—resists the need for the global domination required of its parent company, Diesel. Or, at least, it should get there in his own way. Meanwhile, we hope the Belgian will continue directing the surreal image of his namesake label. That way, trompe l’oeil, among many other triumphs, will continue to be the ticket to exciting trips to nowhere. And we love this place...

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