Demna Serves Classics. Balenciaga Resort 2019

Balenciaga’s resort 2019 look-book got released this morning, and it couldn’t be more Balenciaga – as we know it from Demna Gvasalia. True, there are less hoodies and much less sneakers (now, replaced by more classic looking black men’s boots). But the hybrid trench coats for him and her, voluminous pussy bow blouses, pleated dresses (in cheesy-chic flag print this season), dad jeans, oversized duvet jackets and XXL bazaar bags are all here. Those are the already-cult pieces that seem to be here with Balenciaga for years, not for a few seasons. Other than new colour combinations and a number of tailoring additions, the pre-collection brings nothing new to the table – except the fact that Gvasalia’s designs have completely synthesised with the maison he designs for. Still, there’s one element that will surely catch your attention if you seek the newness. “The symbol on the bags is the one for transgender.” The arrival of the pink and the blue leather shopping bags printed with the black circle, arrow, and cross couldn’t be better timed. First, they look great, second – they defy Trump’s intention to erase the transgender agenda. “I often try to include some messages that are important to be spread,” Gvasalia says. “It’s almost like advertising an idea, this very strong symbol.” Love it or hate it, he can’t go wrong.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Grunge is Back. Marc Jacobs Resort 2019

When Marc Jacobs presented his now iconic collection for Perry Ellis in 1993, he was rather close to being burned at the stake. Unapologetically grunge-isnpired, the collection went down with the leading critics and editors, except for Grace Goddington, who styled that equally (at the time) risky editorial for Vogue, visibly very obsessed with Jacobs’ bold move. Perry Ellis fired the designer right away, and became what it is today – a boring, apparel-focused brand for men. Quite unsurprisingly, the ‘true’ grunge world hated Jacobs for doing this collection, too, with Courtney Love and Curt Kobain reportedly burning the pile of clothing Marc designed with them in mind. But that’s history.

We’re in 2018, and Courtney Love’s daughter – Frances Bean Cobain – is one of the faces of Marc Jacobs, the brand. Even more ironic is the fact that Coco Gordon Moore, the daughter of Kim Gordon (aka grunge godmother) wears Jacobs’ newest collection called, wait for it: Redux Grunge. For resort 2019, the designer brings back 26 looks he designed for the controversial Grunge collection, now with his tag on them. The looks, shot by Juergen Teller (who used to be Marc’s long-time collaborator for years until 2014 – now might be back doing the ad campaigns!), are a testament to the brazenness and timelessness of the designer’s vision. They are as relevant today as they were revolutionary (or even infamous) 25 years ago. Well, that’s true – if not Jacobs, grunge would die with its subculture and never arrive to the mainstream. Crotchet cardigans, a midriff cutout knit dress as seen first on Kristen McMenamy (now on her daughter, Lily McMenamy), rainbow striped beanies, Dr. Martens boots, a cropped blazer baby Kate Moss would wear down the runway, chokers… well, it’s all pretty much identical. I can’t say it looks fresh – it isn’t the collection’s intention in the first place. But somehow, I like it, I like that free-spirited feeling being revived right now, at this moment. Still, it’s such a stark contrast to Jacobs’ saccharine and dramatic spring-summer 2019 collection… that you might really have problems with realising that one person can both do both, rough and sweet.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki, feauturing different visuals by Juergen Teller.

With Respect. Alaïa SS19

The sudden death of Azzedine Alaïa, the master couturier who understood a woman’s body like no one else, hasn’t only deprived the fashion world of an ultimate genius, but as well left his brand in an uncertain position. The spring-summer 2019 look-book that was released last week, however, assures that Alaïa – as a fashion house – isn’t going the wrong path and won’t end its existence as many French houses did after their founders passed away (waiting for years to be bought by a bored millionaire). The Maison Alaïa studio team proves to be loyal to the brand’s codes, and what’s more, isn’t lead by an outside creative director. All the people who work on today’s Alaïa collections were trained by Azzedine himself. Many pieces from the new collection aren’t that new. The offering comprises separate collections, éditions, that consist of archive pieces that have been perfectly replicated as new ready-to-wear and labeled according to original dates. A denim jacket from 1986. The striped dress is from 1990. Another gown saw its runway debut back in 1984. Cotton shirtdresses and woven raffia details were mastered in Azzedine’s last collections to perfection, and they reappear here too, just like python leather garments. The soul of Alaïa is there, in each cut and stitch. The effect is more than beautiful, and you really wish of seeing these clothes in real life. It’s a tribute collection, but not in a Versace spring-summer 2018 way. The studio is expected to rework Alaïa’s original designs in future collections, supplying the stores with the brand’s all-time classics.

Still, there are few new additions that smell with forced commerce: espadrilles made in  collaboration with Castañer (ok, that must be heaven comfort) and a capsule collection of dresses, t-shirts and accessories emblazoned with the words Mon cœur est à papa, the expression of love attributed to Naomi Campbell, who considered the Alaïa her father figure. This isn’t presented in the new season look-book (shot by Karim Sadli and styled by long-time friend of the house, Joe McKenna), but, well, it’s a necessity that just has to be accepted. By the way, for the nay-sayers, Alaïa himself did a capsule collection of logo t-shirts in collaboration with Comme des Garçons back in the 90s (very treasured vintage). No one will return Azzedine. But it’s a great relief that his heritage is in good hands and his fashion continues to be praised with so much grace and respect.

 

Collages by Edward Kanarecki.

It’s Real. A Détacher SS19

When you’re a designer like Mona Kowalska, and you lead a brand like A Détacher, you don’t necessarily need a New York fashion week attendance. The success behind this label isn’t propelled by celebrities; a world-wide distribution across multi-brands; or even a perfectly curated Instagram feed. It’s all about one store in New York’s discrete Nolita (that as well sells hand-picked rarities, niche scents and vintage) and a loyal client-base that consists of female professionals that appreciate what Mona does. Kowalska celebrates the 20th anniversary of her brand this year, and her spring-summer 2018 look-book presents her brand’s pure quintessence. Balloon-sleeved dress, harem pants, stacked-heel boots in ecru, pleated skirts in abstract patterns, a loosely fitted blazer. Those are just some of the pieces that catch one’s eye while browsing the collection. A Détacher is as well-known for its knitwear – see that deconstructed, short-sleeved top. There’s also that logo print episode, but it isn’t as obtrusive as we know it at other brands. The collection was shot at the designer’s Brooklyn home. The model poses spontaneously, surrounded by artwork and books. It feels real. And it’s real. Kowalska’s fashion is intimate, but then, it’s made for wearing, not just for editorial styling. Conclusion: I’m sure that the label will continue to prosper for many, many years to come.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.