Saturday, June 24, 2017

BEAUTY: Clothing--Ann Demeulemeester SS'18

From 1967 to 1972, legendary photographer Robert Mapplethorpe lived with his then-girlfriend, singer-songwriter/poet/artist Patti Smith at the Chelsea Hotel (previously here)--a place Smith called "a doll’s house in the Twilight Zone" in JUST KIDS, her 2010 book about her life with Mapplethorpe. Their life together--even after Mapplethorpe came out, they maintained a deep, close friendship--is perfect vintage New York-Bohemian-downtown-rock-and-roll stuff.

Ever since Ann Demeulemeester started her label in 1985, she has looked to the androgynous Patti Smith for style inspiration (Ann and Patti became friends and Smith reports she packs her "trusty Ann Demeulemeester black jackets" to go on tour) and now that the men's line is being overseen by Sébastien Meunier, he is carrying on this inspiration with the addition of the equally androgynous Mapplethorpe. He explains, "It was about Robert Mapplethorpe in his life at the Chelsea Hotel . . . . We wanted to give homage to this bohème period that was very creative in the ’70s and ’80s in New York."

This Spring Summer '18 collection at Paris Fashion Week is typically romantic and flowing, which is why I tend to love what Demeulemeester does. But even with large flower corsages at models' necks, this collection naturally has a bit of a punky edge to it (black, tall-shaft leather boots that look a bit S&M-ish) considering the inspiration. I like the tank top that says simply "Look at my pictures." Some pieces reminiscent of silk pajamas reference the clothing Mapplethorpe wore toward the end of his life, when he was ill. For those unfamiliar, he died of AIDS in 1989 at the too-young age of 42.

BEAUTY:Clothing--Issey Miyake SS'18

It's actually bee nmany seasons since I have posted anything from Issey Miyake but this Spring Summer '18 collection at Paris Fashion Week really caught me.

In 2012, Yusuke Takahashi took over the men's line at Issey Miyake (Miyake founded his eponymous company in 1970). Miyake has been highly influential in clothing design and I honestly don't think we would have the likes of Rick Owens or Boris Bidjan Saberi or Damir Doma or Craig Green or even Haider Ackermann without him. I recall going to see "Bodyworks," a Miyake exhibition in 1983 at the old San Francisco Museum of Modern Art on Van Ness (well before anyone had heard of Alexander McQueen much less put together a museum show about him). I knew Miyake from fashion magazines but also from costuming Grace Jones and I was blown away at the combinations of materials (neoprene, wires, bamboo, feathers, and the special Miyake-invented pleated fabric) with shapes, like he was creating shelters or buildings instead of garments. Amazing. And the main display space held an impressive collection of black mannequins, an outer ring of floating figures circling a procession of mannequins slowly ascending an invisible stairway. My 19 year-old self was beyond inspired.

Yusuke Takahashi was inspired by the heat and shifting sands of the desert for a collection aptly titled "Through The Desert." The Miyake website says, "Inspired by a journey into the desert, this collection seeks to celebrate the modern man, understanding his need to enjoy the vast beauty of the wilderness." To be more precise, it is the story of a single day in the desert, from muddy, sandy colors, to sand and blues of the sky, to a single, vibrant orange outfit representing the sunset, and back to sand and dark blue and black hues for the night sky.

Some shapes and cuts reference classic safari/desert clothing but most of the collection is a gorgeous abstraction of billowing Bedouin robes. Gorgeous patterns are based on cracked, dried mud, and cut up strips of what look like landscape photos are assembled onto fabric. "Dynamic motifs inspired by the gradations of geologic stratum are created by marble printing using colored glue. The patterns, produced by the hands of skilled craftsmen who intricately combine different colors, are roller-printed on an original, soft-textured polyester developed from proprietary thread," reports Takahashi.

I think it's quite interesting that the last two collections I've posted have been around the ideas of the desert, heat, land, like Rick Owens' Land Art seen here, and Boris Bidjan Saberi's "Mad Max: Fury Road" fantasy seen here...

I love the ambient, dark, dramatic soundtrack to the show...sounds like the soundtrack for someone trekking across the desert.

BEAUTY: Clothing--Boris Bidjan Saberi SS'18

For Spring Summer '18 at Paris Fashion Week, Boris Bidjan Saberi showed a future-retro-Apocalypse collection he called "Fury Road." And the collection feels very Mad Max indeed. Look at these outfits that seem cobbled together from foraged clothing (aprons, jumpsuits, coats, jackets, luggage)--which is certainly what one would have to do after the end of civilization. The silhouettes are deliciously disturbing. And a nice touch is the sunglasses with side shields that would protect one's eyes from blowing sand. These road warriors seem ready for work and life in the desert.

BEAUTY: Clothing--Rick Owens SS'18

Home stretch for fashion we are at Paris Fashion Week, and the incomparable Rick Owens who seems to be orbiting further and further away from "fashion" into conceptual art. I don't think I have ever posted another writer's take on a show in its entirety, but I feel compelled to share with you fashion journalist Luke Leitch's review of the show and collection. Not only is it good, succinct writing, but it encapsulates some of the things I have been trying to say about Owens for a while now.

"At the very end of this epic, epic show (a banger of a show, monumental, the show of the season) Rick Owens appeared to take his bow. He was far, far away from the photographers and audience, high, high, high above the Palais de Tokyo’s courtyard at the top of a triple-twist, scaffold-fixed, gantry runway he had built for his models to slowly descend. He looked minuscule, a lean, long-haired dot in the sky.

In his notes Owens said, 'My recent absorption in Land Art—architecture unleashed—is about the human need to try to find order in wilderness . . . maybe as a futile attempt to put a mark on it as a stab at immortality.' The monumental work of Andy Goldsworthy, James Turrell, et al. is absolutely a parable for humankind’s valiant but ultimately bound-to-fail imperative to leave a mark that outlasts it. Yet a far better one is probably the work of a fashion designer, whose work is the artistic equivalent of the luna moth. However bombastic and attention-seeking the setting, the product’s life span is the blink of an eye. For a designer with genuine artistic impulses such as Owens, that must be an interesting bone to gnaw on.

The models took around two minutes each to slowly walk the gantries and staircases that eventually led them to a runway across the low stone pool of the courtyard, down some more stairs again, then backstage. They started out as dots in the distance, like Owens at the end, then slowly loomed up in front of you. At first the clothes were raw and artfully primitive—some shorts (man in his natural state, but not quite) then eight or so looks of technical caveman wear in dull whites and earthy neutrals, all affixed with gauze or pleather modular pods, some accessorized by lumpy bags with oversize survivalist paracord strapping.

Then, evolution. Menswear’s big bang. The pant! Owens’s—at least at first—were prettily tapered with a comely cinch at the waist, worn below torn tank tops that soon evolved into dark fitted shirting. Then we rushed forward again, into a long and fascinating interrogation of the tailored jacket. Why the jacket? Well, as Owens said in those notes, 'I’ve focused on the suit jacket as respectful uniform, as a symbol of civilization, as elegant luggage, as personal aspiration architecture.' To this eye Owens’s tailoring looked like a subversion of all the comfortable, enabling masculine strictures the suit jacket represents—the notion of professionalism defining identity, but suppressing it too. In rough, tough utilitarian mostly black fabrics, they came either delicately shrunken or blown up, always over pants that funneled ever wider down the ankle and were meant to drag 'luxuriantly' on the ground. The jackets were cut with pockets big enough to fit a sandwich: “One of my personal criteria,” Owens said (as if he eats carbs). Around these were sprinkled triple-layer tank tops, each pulled apart to create a sense of looking into and through the garment to the man underneath. The shoes were sneakers with laces held by scattered D-rings, hiker-style, and big badass tractor soles that made you fear for the models as they descended those stairways from above (one slipped, but recovered in time before tumbling).

There aren’t many—or in my experience, any—fashion shows that make you think for a second about existentialism and our place in the world and all that big stuff that drives you crazy. That’s not what fashion shows are for, after all. This was the exception. That monumental set, sadly uncommunicated in runway images, was perhaps the most significant catalyst for this. (Owens said it was inspired by 'Vladimir Tatlin’s tower set to Led Zeppelin’s 'Stairway to Heaven,' ' but it was also reminiscent of Escher’s Relativity.)

Yet the collection—entitled Dirt—was an in-cloth reinforcement of that so-well observed truth that 'Golden lads and girls all must/ As chimney-sweepers come to dust.' All our fancy raiments count not a jot in the end, and if you get too big for your boots—even boots as big as Owens’s—you’ll only end up disappointed. This was a huge show about humility."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Happy Summer Solstice 2017!

Happy Summer Solstice 2017!
The longest day of the year. Enjoy.
After today, the days grow shorter as we begin our descent into autumn...

Monday, June 19, 2017

BEAUTY: Clothing--Misc. Milano Moda Uomo SS'18

Milano Moda Uomo wrapped up today and here are some nice details that walked down runways around Milan for Spring Summer '18.

Giorgio Armani sent out some beautifully luxe coats but with a Romantic flourish from a century or so ago...the cuts are lyrical and sweeping.

A great sartorial addition to several collections was a cuffed pant leg. But not just cuffed...I mean REALLY cuffed. I saw this on denim jeans a few years ago in France but here we have it on trousers.

Dirk Bikkembergs cuffed pants:

..and I showed the DAKS collection earlier here but here it is again focusing on the cuffed hem:

...and Ferragamo got into some cuffing too...

..and even Mrs. Prada did it.

BEAUTY: Clothing--Billionaire SS'18

Milano Moda Uomo, men's clothing, Billionaire brand, blah blah blah.

Completely common, uninspired collection.

But look at the mature models who wore it. Kudos to Billionaire for casting men 50 and over! Silver is in!