Suddenly everyone's talking about feminism. Emma Watson gave a speech to the UN about it, Beyonce invoked the word at the VMAs, and Lena Dunham tackles it in her new autobiography. And now, today, Karl Lagerfeld addressed it in his Chanel show. But his feminism for spring — shown on an elaborate Paris street set inside the Grand Palais, the house's regular venue — was less about the bra-burning kind, more about the equal-pay-for-equal-work kind. Gloria Steinem paved the way in the 60s and 70s with Women's Lib, but these days women are finding, or at least seeking, empowerment in the workplace.
In the sprawling and celebratory collection, Lagerfeld showed his looks on groups of models, rather than the single-file beeline format. The first section popped with bright floral prints in suggestive shapes reminiscent of Georgia O'Keeffe paintings and mixed with various familiar tweeds, plus a new all-tweed pantsuit. Toting little gold-chain bags that said 'Make Fashion Not War,' rather facilely, these girls were a nod to hippie chicks. Next came a section of demure army fatigues, a reference to women's newfound role in the military, followed by tidy skirt suits and cocktail dresses in glittering paillettes resembling cobblestones that were not as trite as it sounds. The last section consisted of pinstripes in countless permutations, some worn with flouncy white blouses, others shellacked with a stiffness worthy of Wall Street. In the end, the Chanel woman had become a power-brokering CEO.
For spring, Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen again experimented with hard, exoskeleton-like materials that have drawn comparisons to Alexander McQueen (where she interned early in her career) and Hussein Chalayan. Several pieces look tricked out in thorns, so buyer beware. Here are the best looks...
You get the sense that Julie de Libran — former design director of Marc Jacobs' Louis Vuitton and, before that, a designer at Prada — has been saving her best ideas for her moment in the sun, at least judging from her triumphant debut at Sonia Rykiel. Infusing two house trademarks — stripes and knits — with a bohemian spirit, she produced delectable shaggy knits, all-over fringe skirts, simplified army fatigues, and sexy diaphanous gypsy dresses worn by the boho likes of Georgia May and Lizzie Jagger. She brought it all together with a subtle splash of orange — Rykiel orange.
Riccardo Tisci said his spring Givenchy collection was based in part on Tyrolian dress, which explains the dirndls. At the same time, he never strays far from an off-duty sexy nun quality, gladiator elements, or, increasingly, a plunging-V, second-skin vibe typical of Kim Kardashian — his de facto new muse, for better or worse. Here are the best looks...
Kate Bush, that 70s/80s musical icon and heroine of independent women everywhere, was the basis on whom Phoebe Philo, fashion's own uncompromising torchbearer, built her Céline collection. The designer, also English, found thrall in the singer-songwriter — a reliable fashion reference à la Patti Smith — after attending one of her intimate mini-concerts this summer, the ticket of tickets.
In fashion terms, vintage Kate Bush is known for two things: leotards and ethereal nightgowny numbers. To be clear, however, Philo's allusions were not literal, but evocative of her free-spiritedness and injected with a seasoned aversion to 'pretty.' Think super-shaggy, bottom-heavy dress hems; ultra-wide pants in a nylon-looking material; huge lapels or none at all; prominent cutouts in sweaters; and the biggest surprise of all, intentionally frumpy floral-print dresses. Ballet flats (with and without a heel) and chunky figurative jewelry completed the slightly awkward, ever-so-ironic look — all set to a classic Kate Bush soundtrack, naturally.
Which came first, the cardinal sin or the cardinal rule? Either way, a vivid cardinal red was the exclusive color of Comme des Garçons's powerful, unrepentant spring collection. Although Rei Kawakubo doesn't typically delve into hot-button geopolitical issues, it was hard not to read between the rose motifs and blood splatters a visceral sense that all is not right in the world. Even if that wasn't Kawakubo's thought process, that a single shade — applied to materials as diverse as leather and chiffon, and shapes as diverse as a cage skirt, a big red riding hood, and piles of patent-red belts — could carry an entire collection is thought-provoking enough.
The scene outside the Grand Rex, Paris’ decadent Art Deco cinema, was total mayhem. The roads were completely blocked as thousands of people had come to bid adieu to fashion’s foremost enfant terrible. In a statement earlier this month, Jean Paul Gaultier announced he would no longer be producing prêt-à-porter collections, focusing instead on couture, perfume, and special collaborations. Sad though it was, it was also cause for celebration.
The ticket was a sash in the French tricolor, suggesting a sort of beauty pageant. Popcorn and champagne greeted us before we took our seats, both perfectly encapsulating the spirit of Gaultier: pop and chic. It was clear from the start that we were there to watch a competition for Miss Jean Paul Gaultier 2015, but more importantly to celebrate the ages of Gaultier's designs. The icons were all there: cone bras, half-sided smoking jackets, sports branding, Breton stripes, high camp, sex, and more sex! Our host, Alex Taylor, was bilingual for the competition, joined by the inimitable Rossy de Palma. Gaultier took the opportunity to show us nine retrospective mini-collections, all bidding for the title: Miss Marinière, Miss Homage a Madame de Palma, Miss Tour de France, Miss Meteo, Miss Redactrice de Mode, Miss Femme de Footballeur, Miss Vintage, Miss Smoking, and Miss Lucha Libre.
The biggest cheers were raised for Miss Redactrice de Mode, as he paid homage to the editors who have supported him the most. To Madonna’s Vogue, he sent down lookalikes for Franca Sozzani, Grace Coddington, Carine Roitfeld, and the genius casting of Lindsey Wixson as Suzy Menkes. His tongue-in-cheek Loco Logo anti-branding was a clear reference to the Junior Gaultier line of the 90s that's inspiring so much of the new crop — another reminder that Gaultier has been there, done that.
The energy was utterly infectious, and of course the winner was his beloved Coco Rocha, wearing a skintight ensemble featuring an iconic cone-bra dress. She immediately faux-fainted, and the runner up, Anna Cleveland, stepped over her and snatched the crown. Gaultier ran out against a backdrop of models dancing and waving their sashes in the air, wearing his own sash that read Miss L’Enfant Terrible. It was a triumphant and fitting end to a fabulous career. Bring on couture.
Like anything romantic and dramatic, Haider Ackermann's collections have occasionally dipped into syrupy, dreamy melancholy. For spring, however, he was in rare form, delivering a strong line-up almost entirely built on a cinched, taut waist. But instead of going overboard with the bosom, which a wasp waist usually implies, he kept the silhouette controlled, streamlined, and rational.
Jackets were the focus, allowing peplum to steal the show. The oft-neglected lower part of the jacket was by turns ruffled and stiff as they emerged from under sculptural belts. While silky, ethereal trains threatened to derail a couple of otherwise no-fuss looks, several varieties of le smoking in lilac and champagne hues stepped in to save the day. Leather made a laudable appearance as softened biker jackets, some with ruched sleeves, and as slick black patent pants, cutting a lean figure and proving that Ackermann can still dazzle when he wants to.
Undercover’s Jun Takahashi led us down the rabbit hole again, in a show that was every bit the post-modern fairy tale. The runway was strewn with huge red shiny apples with faces like skulls, hinting at their dangerous pleasure. As a spectacle, it was truly wonderful, though the subtext was, as is often the case with Undercover, much darker and more personal, telling a coming-of-age story, a fall from grace, and a sexual reawakening.
He opened with princess dresses, ballet flats, and beautifully crafted real-feather black wings. The play with these huge oversized apples against the models made them physically smaller, recalling Alice in Wonderland. The next section was full of digital screens sewn into the clothes, tapping into an adolescent divide. The story then played out with a beautiful section of full-color, all-over print Hieronymus Bosch outfits, all bearing scenes from his Garden of Earthly Delights, because of course the red shiny apple holds dark promises. His girls reinforced this, holding bags shaped like apples, with knuckledusters for handles — sure to be a huge hit in stores - the perfect balance between cute and tough.
For the finale, Takahashi sent out a whole section of black outfits to Tori Amos’ Black Swan, an ode to his young woman. Her transformation was complete, from innocent youth to disaffected teen to biker ballerina.