Already known for its effeminate men's and mannish women's collections, Gucci said it will start showing the two together on the runway.
“It seems only natural to me to present my men’s and women’s collections together," confirmed creative director Alessandro Michele. "It’s the way I see the world today."
Hedi Slimane's sensational Saint Laurent collection today isn't likely to settle the rumor mill, which alternately insists he's leaving for Dior (replaced by Anthony Vaccarello) and staying put at the house he's reinvigorated so thoroughly. That's because the show proved his top-level couture prowess, a case for both scenarios.
The first collection held in Saint Laurent's new couture house — mansion, really — in Saint-Germain des Prés, the show oozed couture. First, there was no music — startling for an avowed rock fan like Slimane (that's what the concert-like show at the Palladium last month was for). Rather, as the show transpired, numbers were announced by the same woman who called the house's couture shows between 1977 and 2002, the year Saint Laurent retired.
For his Balenciaga debut, Demna Gvasalia went straight to the source for direction, the singular vision of Cristóbal Balenciaga, bypassing the house's two most recent creative directors.
Specifically, Gvasalia reimagined "couture attitudes," as he called them in the show notes, essentially recreating that which most defined the couturier — his sculpted approach. Cocoon shapes, deep-Vs, a bit of padding at the hip, and bunches of fabric kicked forward at the knee alluded to the drama of midcentury couture. Yet they were given a contemporary spin, as in the use of denim jackets and nylon parkas, as well as half-tucked men's shirting and shapeless floral scarf dresses.
Things are never that simple at a Yohji Yamamoto collection, despite the austere simplicity of the clothes. With his enduring love affair with the color black and its possibilities, it was no surprise when he sent out a closing statement like “B I WILL BE BACK SOON A.”
The repeated motif of the dropped sleeve felt modern, and Yamamoto’s meditative, methodical, repetitive approach to such a deceptively complex part of the garment was fascinating. The cleanliness overall felt fresh too, with geometric detailing from squared-off necklines and straps to horizontal embroideries that finished off in trailing threads.
When a model hit a wall on Rick Owens' runway today, her head shrouded in a nimbus of mohair, I couldn't help thinking about that Chanel couture show back in 1994, when Karl Lagerfeld sent out supermodels wearing face-covering feathered headgear that made many of them stumble. Marion Hume, then the fashion critic of the Independent, wrote a scathing review titled Not a Way to Treat a Lady. Well, that was a while ago. Fashion was different, and so was fashion criticism.
Even after all these years, masking still feels esoteric. Yet, on Owens' runway, the trick looked almost sedate. That's because he's been staging a string of exceptional shows with outstandingly original ideas that have set a landmark in fashion history.
The invitations for the show were individually hand-painted by the artist Gill Button, whom Van Noten discovered on Instagram — over 1000 ink drawings, all showing the face of his season’s muse, the eccentric Italian heiress Marchesa Luisa Casati, were lovingly drawn in four days. And they, in turn, inspired the show’s heavy black eye make-up that every model sported on the catwalk. It was a meta-moment, which was underlined in the soundtrack, driven by a recording of a model's heartbeat from the previous night's rehearsal.
This referential approach is nothing new at Van Noten. We would happily watch the master churn out variations of the same collection over and over, as his vision is always so startlingly beautiful, but each season he seems to stretch himself, top himself, and casually nail all of the trends in his own inimitable way. The prints were informed by stories of Casati walking the streets with tethered cheetahs and attending parties with live snakes as jewelry. The silhouettes, too, were achingly chic, with Van Noten twisting the current trend of genderless fashion and recalling the classic Victor Victoria line: “I'm a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman.” A feat that only he could pull off so elegantly.