Saturday, June 23, 2018

#FASHIONWEEK: Paris Fashion Week – In Review – Dior MEN SS19

It’s been an incredible week of shows, showstoppers and firsts for Paris Fashion Week. How anyone can get through all the excitement and fever in the air in one piece is beyond me. Another FAV Paris House of Couture of mine, The House of Christian Dior, did the most when it debuted the first collection from the new Head of Creative for Men: Kim Jones. Kim Jones is famous for his work at LVMH’s Louis Vuitton stable and gained cult status with newer generations with his last collection at the French house when he collaborated with SUPREME. Now at Dior, the designer was cited to deliver similar aesthetic results – to the world’s surprise, he didn’t. Well, not in his entirety, anyways.

For his first order of business, Kim Jones worked on rebirthing the brand’s men’s division through a slight name change. We know Hedi Slimane did something similar with YSL when he dropped the Yves in favour of Saint Laurent – the fashion fraternity was not exactly pleased but the title seemed to grow on everyone. At Dior, Mr Jones opted to exchange the French term for men, Homme, with Men – so now we have: Dior MEN. Everything that came after that was simply befitting.

To kick-off his tenure at the French Couture house, Jones considered the beginning as a very good place to start. So much so, that he looked to the man who started it all, Mr Christian Dior himself. Looking at his personality, Jones took away the man’s love affair with gardens and nature. Further on that particular point, he pin-pointed the exact rose that had always capture Mr Dior’s heart. Moving down the timeline, Jones sought refuge in the decorative toile de jouy patterns which wallpapered the Dior flagship store around 1947. Swiping through the time capsule, Kim also looked at the famous Dior monogram made infamously famous when it launched with the Saddle bag for women and one of his last stunts at memory lane was taking on the iconic Dior Bee and introducing it to the 21st Century man.

In making his debut happening – in the manner best suited to the times – Kim looked to creative around him who transcend everyday normalities through the creation of extraordinarily standard creative art. For the set design, Kim commissioned popular culture artist KAWS or better known as, Brian Donnelly, to translate Mr Dior and his faithful dog, Bobby, into a 305cm centrepiece statue made solely of pink, white and black roses. The House of Dior sought Yoon Ahn to handle the jewellery design for the collection, Matthew Williams of Alyx to manage the C-D logo buckles on all accessories and DJ Diplo on the soundtrack to a new era the models marched the runway to.

The collection that was produced sparked a whole new outlook for the brand. It is light, fun, flirtatious, sensual and much more robust in its shape and form. It did not scent of the previously rigid and almost morbidly dark collections of predecessors Kris van Assche and Hedi Slimane. It had the flurry of a fleeting heart at the bottom of a stomach’s pit with all the confidence a man whose masculinity was not up for debate. Its play with fabrications, layering and floral accents give it a sense of dexterity and virility. Kim might have veered off focusing on street, yet it translates so intimately in this collection that its level of edge is more opulently atelier, than robust sports conduit. It truly is a great beginning and we are eagerly anticipating future collections.

Watch the full show here:

#parisfashionweek #pfw #menswear #diorMEN #kimjones

#FASHIONWEEK: Paris Fashion Week – In Review – Alexander McQueen SS19

I have an incredibly soft spot for the Alexander McQueen brand. Initially, on passing of the designer, I thought that spot would harden and I would find myself losing interest, hope and love for the brand. Needless to say, Sarah Burton, the current Creative Director at Alexander McQueen has been doing the utmost at keeping me glued to the McQueen seat and continually anticipating the next collection for both women and men.

Her spring 2019 offering is just another example of her key role at McQueen, her innate sensibility towards Alexander the designer and her pure talent as a transparent designer for the true lovers of the Alexander McQueen heritage. Heritage is a common theme with this year’s Paris Fashion Week showcases, with pretty much every fashion house pulling out its archival content to work into modernity with traditionalist quality. And for Sarah it was no different. With this collection she taps into two of Alexander McQueen’s favourite muses: Artist Francis Bacon and his photographer friend, John Deakin.

The Alexander McQueen silhouette has always been a favourite of mine, partly because it has stayed consistent – throughout, and also because I resonate with it. It’s tall, slender and yearns for hourglass particulars around the high waist. It is constantly anchored with square shoulders and grounded with block feet. In this collection, the silhouette could be seen as Sarah’s mocking of both Bacon’s and Deakin’s demeanour: John was a short man, especially for a photographer and Francis had a more stoutly body frame.

The use of colour in the collection can be seen as Burton’s take on the variety of colour expressed in both creatives’ work. Most of the works by the artist could be considered dark, muted with later work providing much more pungent colour and the photographer shot most of his portraits in black and white or sepia. His later works were discovered to be covered by a variety of paint splatters in his friend, Francis Bacon’s studio. Burton translates this through a myriad of neutrals; some alone and others with a strip of bold colour, to bright monotones and splattered paint prints and knits – even extended to body paint for presentation purposes. There are graffiti references translated into prints, as well, captured from photographs inspired by John Deakin.

Both creative beings were known for being abrupt, somewhat dysfunctional, and erratic and doing a lot effortlessly to get under their subjects’ skin. More so Deakin than Bacon. Sarah translates this through a variety of subtly design and styling mechanisms. These include: The cut-away pieces under jacket lapels and shirts and cuffs of shirts – also reminiscent of some of the shapes illustrated in Bacon’s works; the slits in jackets and coats, revealing either skin or another layer of fashion underneath propose the delving into under layers of the being; and there’s the cropped cut-away of jackets, revealing a whole chunk of formal punk underneath.

Essentially the collection fuses traditionalist Alexander McQueen with the notoriety of its muses through a modern looking glass to produce a collection that is couture street attitude with polished royalty manners. It’s rock n roll for the college geek who needed an outlet for his crazy personality. Small details here make a big difference and its beauty lies in its underlying cruelty. It’s quite possibly a ready-to-wear take on the male version of McQueen’s savage beauty.

Watch the full show here:

#parisfashionweek #pfw #menswear #alexandermcqueen #sarahburton

#FASHIONWEEK: Paris Fashion Week – In Review – Louis Vuitton SS19

I generally don’t do this, but with all the beautiful clothes coming from Paris Fashion Week, I can’t help myself. I have to get in on the conversation and at least highlight my favourite international designers and my magic moments from their collections. One incredibly beautiful moment was that of Ghanaian-American creative, Virgil Abloh, at Louis Vuitton. Only three months in the hot seat – Abloh was named LV Men’s Artistic Director in March 2018 – the designer did what he has always wanted to do, seemingly: Merge street with couture. And his LEVELS have layers.

Virgil stepped into Paris Fashion Week as Louis Vuitton’s first Ghanaian-American designer to head up the men’s division. The pressure to deliver must have been ungodly, however, the public declaration by LVMH of Abloh’s position in the company is a clear sign of their confidence in him and his capabilities as a creative spirit with a vision also driven by results; whether financial or social commentary. Abloh’s experience spans interning at FENDI + being Creative Director at DONDA, Kanye West’s Creative Agency + founding Off-White. Through this journey, as a young American from Chicago born of Ghanaian migrants, Virgil had a dream to effect change through fashion and this appointment, made material by this collection, is that dream being achieved.

Virgil has gained a level of notoriety in fashion, especially within street wear. His work through Off-White has been a considerable conversation about the relationship between street wear and luxury – what are its defining terms and how do you bridge the two without losing individual credentials. In looking at his first collection for the luxury fashion house, Virgil took to ‘The Wizard of OZ’. An American popular culture fable about a young Dorothy who finds herself in another world, seeking her way home, only to find adversity along the seemingly paved road, only to make it back home in reality where OZ was a dream. Throughout the collection, the parallels are translated in various ways, for instance: in the opening scene in the movie the story is painted in sepia – in the collection, Virgil opens with shades of off white. As Dorothy’s struggle down the yellow brick road to home in Technicolor, so does Abloh’s LV collection start to take on pops of vibrant colour.

The collection itself, amongst everything else that was happening during this presentation, was strong and confident. It held its own. Taking its queue from Louis Vuitton’s rich tapestry and heritage for travel, the collection embodied an illustration of a global citizen, on the move and unflinching for their taste for opulence. There was a level of aspiration and accessibility about the collection, pulling in a lot of street detailing and polishing it off with traditional atelier handcraftsmanship. The shape, albeit loose fitting and flowing for most part, had a lot of under construction and form was fitted well in most parts to great dynamic silhouettes. And what should a collection be without those directional fashion items based on some key trends: sheer tees were part in parcel of this collection, as well as the oversized semi-constructed tailored blazer in extra length. Denim was in, and so was the use of stylized floral motifs as the new graphic visual for prints.

The collection was Virgil’s very own yellow brick road, paved and outlined heading towards paradise. From a man from humble beginnings to what is looking like a humble reign, supreme, we can only sit back and enjoy his offerings from now on.

Watch the full show...

#parisfashionweek #pfw #menswear #louisvuitton #virgilabloh