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Saturday, 26 January 2013

Couture Fashion Week 2013: Chanel, Dior, and Ulyana Sergeenko

Click here for previous Chanel posts. 

Chanel's Mary Queen Of Scots collection last season was fantastic, so I can only assume that Karl Lagerfeld used up his yearly quota of awesome on that one. Bearing in mind that this is a Couture show, one would think that it would be better than Pre-Fall. Not so. Instead, the theme (Weimar Germany... something...?) was unclear at best, and totally absent at worst As a kind of psychological palate-cleanser, I'm going to start this post with the ugliest outfit of the show, just so we can get it over with and move on to better things:
This looks like someone put a bunch of lei garlands in a blender, spackled them all over a tube dress, and accessorised it with an apron jacket worn by a Midwestern housewife in the 1980s. Karl Lagerfeld, what were you thinking?

Most of the show was rather more sedate. 68 looks in all, this collection was mostly dedicated to Chanel-classic suits, although the tailoring was unfortunately even boxier than usual. Most puzzling of all were the shoes, which in addition to being open-toed boots (WHY?), were attached to lacey leggings that looked itchily uncomfortable and made the models' legs look wrinkly and shapeless.
The one dress that I'd actually wear:
I find it constantly bizarre that for someone so pathalogically obsessed with thinness (both personally and for women in general), Lagerfeld designs clothes that are just... not slimming at all. I mean, the suits this season are pretty damn cuboid, but this dress is just... a cone. A cone with arm-protectors. No wonder the model is crying her mascara all over her face: her knees are bleeding because the dress is made of concrete and doesn't bend when she walks.
 This is what the woman from the blended-garlands picture wore to her Prom:
Instead of the traditional solo bridal dress finale, Lagerfeld ended the show with a pair of brides as a kind of "fuck you" to the gay marriage debate currently going on in France at the moment. I agree in spirit, but the gowns themselves were... really not all that great.

Dior relies upon the sweeping, formal gown in the same way that Chanel relies upon the skirt-suit. Moreso, really, since Chanel is really Lagerfeld's brand now, whereas Dior is still very much reliant upon the same designs it was producing in it's heyday, the 1950s. The hope is that new Creative Director Raf Simons will revitalise the brand and become their very own Lagerfeld (or a scandal-free Galliano), but I'm yet to be convinced.
Raf Simons' previous role was Creative Director at Jil Sander, where he introduced a very minimalist design style that led to the hugely popular colour-blocking trend that's been everywhere for the past couple of years. He wouldn't have been my first choice for a ladylike, old-fashioned brand like Dior, but perhaps Dior is trying to take a step away from ladylike and old-fashioned. Whether or not that was their actual aim, this show was not particularly impressive. It had little of the luxurious detail of recent Dior couture collections, seeming more like a combination of rather conservative classic Dior designs with a few jarringly unexpected Raf Simons outfits thrown in to remind everyone that he was there.
This yellow dress was one of my few genuine favourites. The two-layer cutaway is interesting, but the extreme simplicity of the shape and colour of the dress as a whole helped to balance it out. Honestly, it looks far more Raf Simons than Dior, but I'll take it.

Ulyana Sergeenko
I had nothing but good things to say about Ulyana Sergeenko's Couture show last year, and even though this was a little cheesier than expected, it had its good points.
In a complete u-turn from last year's nod to Sergeenko's Russian heritage, this collection was all about America. On the bright side, it didn't have any denim-clad cowboys, which is more than one can say for 99% of other USA-themed fashion shows. But it was guided by Hollywood's depiction of America (not exactly an unexplored topic in the world of fashion), leading to things like this pretty but somewhat pointless version of Scarlett O'Hara's green curtain dress in Gone With The Wind:
Rather more to my taste was this ultra-tailored black Puritan dress, which had a kind of fetishised conservatism that the goth in me just can't resist. I'm glad to see that Sergeenko is retaining the long, heavy skirts from her earlier work, since there are so few designers who ever go for this look. Most designers are so concerned with femininity and a slim silhouette that skirts like this are dismissed as unflattering, but Sergeenko is proving that they can be worn with style.

I'm not 100% clear on what this final outfit was supposed to be, but I'm pretty sure Tailor Swift is going to be wearing it in her next video.

Click here for previous Chanel posts.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, and we're back to the Karl Lagerfeld I love to hate. "Avante-garde clowns" is supposed to be a JOKE people make about fashion, not an actual inspiration.