Following last month’s flashback to a John Galliano-era Christian Dior collection, I thought now would be a good time to put the spotlight on an Alexander McQueen collection given that the basis for the previous post was the book that I read about the two designers, Gods and Kings by Dana Thomas. I chose to feature McQueen’s Spring 1995 collection, entitled “The Birds” and themed around the Alfred Hitchcock classic film of the same name. Inspired by the tight, restrictive pencil skirts worn by Tippi Hedren in the movie, McQueen chose to use that silhouette and magnify it to extreme proportions. Dana Thomas, a somewhat expert on McQueen wrote an entire essay on the collection for The Cut which explains everything better than I ever could – read it here.
“The Birds” was one of Alexander McQueen’s first big collections. It was the third show he ever presented to the public and is extremely impressive for a designer at such a young stage in their career. Of course, McQueen had been working for quite some time before this point, even undertaking an apprenticeship at Saville Row, an experience that shaped his work for years to come. This collection has the sharp tailoring and almost restrictive cuts that he would be known for. It also plays on the themes of destruction and androgyny which McQueen would reference throughout his career.
I just finished reading “Gods & Kings”, Dana Thomas’ book profiling two of the most prolific designers of the past quarter century, Alexander McQueen and John Galliano. Often touted as rivals, the two designers experienced growth and fame at the same time, with their careers on an almost parallel path, before everything went south. McQueen famously died in 2010 and not so long afterwards Galliano was fired from his position at Christian Dior after being filmed on a drunken, anti-Semitic outburst in a Parisian bar. McQueen is widely revered. His creativity is said to be unmatched and where Galliano often made costumey pieces that were nothing like what was actually sold in stores, McQueen was said to make ultra-creative and artistic pieces that clients could actually see themselves wearing. Both men had similarly tortured private lives and similarly profiled public lives.
This collection is one of Galliano’s most controversial. It was even the inspiration for Mugatu’s collection entitled Derelicte in Zoolander. Basically, Galliano took inspiration from the homeless population of Paris and repackaged what he had observed from the underprivileged on the streets of the city and the banks of the Seine, where he used to go jogging, as haute couture. He was also inspired by images taken by photographer Diane Arbus of mentally ill patients. Rightly so, he received intense criticism for this move. However, 17 years later we are still talking about the collection. This New York Times article, written back in 2000 when the collection was debuted, explains the whole situation well and features quotes from Galliano who failed to see anything wrong with his actions. From what I have read about Galliano, a lack of accountability seems to be a common thing for him which is sad as it can overshadow his artistry. Regardless of the intention of this collection and the initial reaction, it has secured an important place in fashion history and that is something to remember.
This Dolce & Gabbana is around about the time of my favorite Dolce & Gabbana. In fact, it used to be my favorite brand. I was obsessed with the pretty dresses with the florals. They were so womanly. For a young teenager, the Dolce & Gabbana woman was exactly what I thought I wanted to be when I grew up. She seemed like such a woman. Sophisticated, glamorous, beautiful, motherly – simply everything. She didn’t seem like a kid in any way. She seemed like a grown up who wore heels and had their life together. At that time, I couldn’t even imagine myself in that position nor did I really know how an adult functioned. Since becoming an adult myself, I realize that most of us don’t fit into this tightly edited resemblance of a woman nor is it as desirable to me anymore. Regardless, they did a good job of conveying this through their advertising too – the Italian Dream.
I think Dolce & Gabbana have been overshadowed in recent years by poor press. Social media mishaps, plus some real media faux-pas too (the IVF comments for one) have detracted from the brand and it’s glamorous image. Frequently dressing and speaking out in support of Melania Trump also hasn’t helped them in the fashion industry which tends to skew liberal in its politics. Politics and personal opinions aside, this SS11 collection is gorgeous and full of wedding-worthy dresses that I can definitely appreciate. The beauty looks are, well, beautiful, and I love the hoop earrings.
I have a post coming up about the various fashion businesses of the Kardashian-Jenner klan. This post would be incomplete without a mention of Kanye West. In that spirit, I thought I would throw it back to his first Adidas Originals collection, back in February 2015 for Yeezy Season 1. It’s hard to believe that this was only two and a half years ago, given that it seems like the Yeezy hype has been going on forever. With social media and so much happening every week, it’s easy to think that things were years ago when really they were recently. That’s what has happened with this collection in my mind.
I remember the outrage when this collection was shown. Nobody could believe that Kanye West dared to call this fashion. They couldn’t fathom the fact that he had disrupted the New York Fashion Week schedule. They didn’t understand the format of his show, like a performance art piece instead of a runway. And most importantly, they couldn’t believe that the pieces he put out were to be considered clothes. The full body stockings, for example, were particularly controversial. I’ve taken to interpret the bodystockings as creating a blank canvas with whatever piece worn on top of it to be the one highlighted. Take the green crop top worn by Amina Blue as an example. That is what we are meant to focus on, with the rest of her body being deemed invisible.
The Yeezy line has evolved ever so subtly. It is becoming more and more organized each season. I think Kanye’s vision is becoming clearer. Some things in the collections are overpriced, ridiculous, and laughable whereas other items are genuinely nice, wearable, and fair. I like the outerwear mainly. I hate the shoes. The Fall 2017 presentation was the best yet, with the best format also. I’m interested to see what direction Kanye takes things in for the Spring 2018 season. What can he do next?
Christophe Decarnin’s Balmain is to 2008 what Anthony Vaccarello’s Saint Laurent is to 2017. By that I mean they cater to a very similar customer. The wildly glamourous, slighly rock’n’roll party girl who still shops at Saint Laurent probably moved there after Decarnin departed from Balmain. First fed by Hedi Slimane’s rock chick look, the glamour that this girl lives for is still there but in a more retro, 80s way with Vaccarello. I love all three designers. They all create such cool pieces that I’d just love to wear.
For this collection, I seen a lot of embellishments and I got serious rock’n’roll vibes which is always welcome. I’ve found myself becoming increasingly inspired by rock bands like the Rolling Stones and Blondie. I think the key to longevity in the music business (besides good music, of course) is creating an iconic look. Both of the aforementioned bands have done that. I’d have hair like Debbie Harry if I could work out how to stop it from snapping off. Honestly, I can’t believe this collection is nearly ten years old because I know that if it had been marched down the runway this past season it would’ve gotten a lot of love. I’m surprised that the cool girls of Instagram (Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner etc.) haven’t started wearing mid 2000s Balmain yet. I don’t think Decarnin necessarily gets the credit he deserves for the trends that he started and for the revival of the Balmain brand overall.
Let me start this off by saying I’m so into the runway. It’s like a meadow. So interesting. The length of the catwalk is covered entirely in violet flowers, making it perhaps a dangerous but nevertheless beautiful sight. From what I recall, no models fell which is a feat in itself.
Stefano’s tenure at YSL isn’t discussed too much nowadays. I think this is because of the extreme rebranding done by Hedi Slimane (most obviously, renaming the line). Now that Hedi has departed and Anthony Vaccarello is holding down the fort, I feel like Stefano’s contributions will be looked over even more. As a kid, when I seen celebrities wearing YSL, it was Stefano’s designs. I actually liked him, although I did prefer Hedi. It’s just cool to think that the tulip skirt silhouette that was so popular for a few years in the noughties was reintroduced by him. The effect that individual designers have on fashion is not often noticeable until a few years later, unless they are producing a shift of seismic proportions a la Demna Gvasalia.
I, like everyone else who likes fashion (almost literally), love Nicolas Ghesquiere. I, also like many other, prefer his work at Balenciaga. Honestly, I like him at Louis Vuitton but there I feel that he has been tasked too much with creating a specific look and it’s getting slightly repetitive. You can see that there’s not as much buzz around the shows as there was a year or two ago – probably because it’s all about streetwear like Vetements/Demna, fashion’s current golden child, at Balenciaga.
For the Spring 2013 season, Ghesquiere presented a very safe but beautiful collection. It was clothes that would be worn, and honestly most of the looks are still relevant today, 5 years later (almost). For example, I remember seeing the opening look – the cross over, moulded bra top – and thinking I know this is going to sell, and now you still see girls wearing similar tops and you can still buy similar tops in stores now. The trickle down effect was so real on that item. Some people disliked the ruffles (too flamenco, they said) but I loved them. I’m partial to a ruffle. They’re flirty and feminine, yet I like how they were slightly toughened up by being in black with the contrasting colour underneath (often white or pink).
To me this collection was classic Ghesquiere. There were clean lines, minimalist details with little twists and slight architectural elements. The aforementioned coupled with the micro-mini proportions made for an interesting collection. To put this show back into context, this was the season that Raf presented his first ready-to-wear collection for Dior (highly anticipated) and Hedi’s first collection for (Yves) Saint Laurent, plus Marc Jacobs’ checkerboard escalator extravaganza for Louis Vuitton. Competition was high yet despite all of the noise, to me, Ghesquiere’s collection spoke the loudest. And it’s still influential today. That speaks volumes.
When I think of Gucci, I still think of Frida Giannini. I actually miss her designs. It’s so funny to me just how drastically different Gucci is under Alessandro Michele. It seems like a different brand. Frida’s Gucci was always more appealing to me, visually, but it seems that Michele’s designs are working commercially. Gucci is booming right now and has been for the past few years. Not only is it the it accessories brand at the moment but it’s designs are now uber trendy and coveted by all of the celebrities who matter. If you wear Gucci on the red carpet, you’re guaranteed a press mention somewhere (or everywhere). In my opinion, Beyonce and Harry Styles are the only people who wear the new Gucci well. Most people end up looking a little bit too librarian for me liking. Regardless, it’s selling so well.
I do often think of Gucci as an accessories brand, especially because most of the items that I’ve ever wanted from the brand have been in that category. I love their bags, especially the Soho totes, and the classic loafers that I believe everyone should own a pair of at least once in their lives (I’m not there yet). I even loved the fur trimmed loafers that Michele presented, even though they became such blogger bait that it became slightly embarrassing.
Regardless, it is Frida’s Gucci that I actually like. Of course, Tom Ford’s wins in all categories. It was he who made the brand what it is today. He revived it. He made it sexy. He made it shocking. He made it cool. Frida worked on the accessories under him and became creative director a few seasons after his departure. During her tenure at the brand, the sexy styles continued but things became a little bit less overt than what Tom had shown.
For the Spring 2011 season, color was big. The opening looks contrasted with the sleek black looks towards the end and are actually the styles that have endured. Images from this collection are still shared online 6 years later. The second look of the show, the purple twisted top with the orange pencil skirt (actually a dress) and golden belt, was worn by various celebrities at the time and made it into various editorials and even the ad campaign for the season. Jennifer Lawrence wore it on the cover of Flare Magazine and it’s actually my favorite look of hers, ever. You can buy this dress on 1stdibs just now for $3147. It was definitely the standout piece of the season. The reason that I love this piece so much is that it reminds me of the jewel toned outfit worn by Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. I have wanted to recreate that look ever since I seen the movie as a child.
Looking at the advertising for this season again so many years later, I’m feeling slightly nostalgic. I remember these images, tearing them out of magazines and sticking them up on my bedroom walls. That was my first real foray into fashion. I would collect images and stick them on my wall, eventually moving on to compile binders upon binders of images. I still have them at my parents house and I enjoy looking back on them every so often.
The reason that I loved this collection so much was the hark back to 70s glamour. Fashion photography at that time was at its peak, in my opinion. Chris von Wangenheim is my personal favorite and I adore his collection of images of Gia Carangi. Giannini noted his images, along with Guy Bourdin and others as the inspiration behind the collection, along with noting Marrakesh as a key destination. As a result of this, the color palette was vibrant and fun, the materials used were sumptuous and just looked luxurious, and the models just looked so good. Very Yves Saint Laurent but not in a derivative manner. I personally think that elements of this collection have influenced Olivier Rousteing’s work at Balmain. I adore it and I miss it. Long live glamour.
When I was typing my initial thoughts on this collection I put “Playboy bunny bow ties mixed with tailoring, bubble hems and satin, tulle and ruffles”. I stand by my thoughts. I’d call it moody ballet chic, which works for me given that Lanvin makes the most beautiful and cushioned ballet flats ever. I like the dark colour palette used in this collection because I think it contrasts with the girly nature of the clothes. The light, sheer tulles and feminine shapes work because of the dark colours, not in spite of, in my opinion. To me, this collection is what I think of as sexy. The plunging necklines are accentuated by silky bows around the neck. Honestly though, I think this collection looks very of its time. I’m going to pin that on the satin.
This collection is what I think of when I think of Alber. I kind of miss him. I was never the biggest fan – Lanvin wasn’t one of the shows that I’d specifically look out for on the calendar – but I appreciate his work and it’s consistency. I think it’s weird that he is gone, especially because he seemed to be so popular with critics, consumers, and generally everyone in fashion (apart from Abbey Lee Kershaw…). I hope he finds a new post soon, one of a similar calibre where he can show off his skills.
I recently stumbled across the image of Jessica Stam with the giraffe on Tumblr. All I could think, besides what a fantastic photograph, was that I recognised that outfit. Almost immediately I remembered Nicki Minaj wearing the look at the Grammys in 2011. I remember waiting up until midnight to see what she was wearing, watching Live from the Red Carpet on E!, and tweeting about it afterwards. At the time I was a super fan so that kind of behaviour was expected. Anyway, seeing the image of Stam made me look into the collection, Fall 2007 Couture. In 2007 I was 9 years old. I will not even lie to you and pretend I remember seeing this come down the runway. I do not recall that. In fact, in 2007 I was still obsessing over Paris and Nicole. I probably didn’t even know what Givenchy was. However, since I enjoy looking back at older collections now, I’ve been browsing for images and videos from the show. I have to say, I really enjoyed the collection. I like when Riccardo Tisci does couture. It is fun.
Some other pieces from the collection which I particularly enjoyed were all of the leopard looks (animal print is practically a neutral), the feathered jackets, and the liberal use of fur. I feel this collection was very Cruella de Vil in the most glamorous way. Riccardo Tisci also played with peplums and tailoring, something that is now perhaps a classic from him. We’ve come to expect a great blazer from Givenchy, a perfectly fitting pair of pants. Honestly, the outfit in the images above is definitely my favourite with the pale ombre leopard coming in a close second. I don’t know if it is because I’ve seen it styled off-the-runway (that often helps) but I really do love it, even with the hat.
Apologies for the slightly grainy images below, I couldn’t find HQs.