Camp-y. Jordan Dalah Resort 2023

During the Australian Fashion Weeks, I always look forward to Jordan Dalah’s collections. His resort 2023 show was ‘camp’ – not in the Susan Sontag way, but in the literal way. Guests arrived to find comfortable camping chairs instead of the expected benches, while the modern ensembles saw Dalah embrace colour and the beauty of the outdoors. The transparent dress with pegs inside the hems saw an unconventional take on classic Australian backyard imagery, and was a highlight for many. Dalah possesses the distinct ability to combine Australian optimism, raw materials and fearless innovation with European craftsmanship and distinct elevated aesthetic – a skill which can be attributed to his time at Central Saint Martins. The collection saw Dalah expand on his existing vocabulary of voluminous silhouettes, signature hemlines and avant garde expressionism by returning to his Australian roots with designs that are fit for prêt-à-porter release. The collection’s “statement” look came in the form of two ultra-wide, flowing maxi dresses with lengthy trains.  It’s delivering nothing short of high-fashion meets grand couturier meets avant garde editorial realness.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

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Past-Present-Future Goddesses. Louis Vuitton Resort 2023

It’s been a while since I truly enjoyed a Louis Vuitton collection by Nicolas Ghesquière. Something clicked again for me. The collection was a powerful ode to goddesses – of the past, present and future. The resort 2023 line-up – presented in La Jolla, California – was a wonderful reminder of how forever-forward this Parisian designer is.

His two post-pandemic Paris shows and the one shown in USA, form a sort of trilogy, starting in the 19th century, making a pitstop in the ’90s of his own post-adolescence, and zooming off into a utopian future. At all three Ghesquière has set out to break down dress codes and build up complex silhouettes. And here’s another Vuitton epic: Ghesquière has made a tradition of staging his cruise shows at architectural marvels. John Lautner’s Bob Hope House in Palm Spring, Oscar Niemeyer’s Niteroi Museum in Rio de Janeiro, I. M. Pei’s Miho Museum outside Kyoto, and now the Louis Kahn-designed Salk Institute in La Jolla. Kahn’s masterpiece, its monumentality is matched by its humanity, but Ghesquière was as switched on by its setting as by its Brutalist concrete. “The guest of honor for the show is the sun,” he said poetically. “The elements are invited.” This was a collection about playing with those elements. He chose metallic fabrics and embellishments that reflected the setting sun, some as glassy as mirrors, and other materials that offered protection from it, wrapping long swathes of linen, for example, around the head and across the body. Other pieces lifted design details from water sports; the airbrushed colors of half tops and boxy short skirts apparently came from jet skis. Ghesquière is a designer whose collections are minutely pored over and studied, and some of these gestures looked like callbacks to earlier seasons, only amplified, maximal where he used to be minimal and streamlined. The show began and ended with a bang. The opening dresses, one more voluminous than the next, were cut from robust jacquards (he compared them to molten lava) that looked like they really could’ve repelled enemy fire. The effect was almost stately, but for the soft-soled sneakers they padded out on. At the finish came a trio of jackets with enormous sculpted collars as shiny as armor perched above tinsel sleeves. These were extraordinary: imaginative and otherworldy. Ghesquière was firing on all creative cylinders here, creating a positive feedback loop. You left wanting to be one of his Amazon superheroine goddesses.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

NET-A-PORTER Limited

Dans Paris. Celine AW22

Last week, Hedi Slimane has presented his autumn-winter 2022 collection for Celine, which he chose to stage in two historical monuments in Paris, the Hôtel de la Marine and the the Hôtel National des Invalide. Entitled “Dans Paris“, the show was filmed by Slimane, off the usual Paris Fashion Week schedule and starred Kaia Gerber. Looking at the first half of the collection, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Slimane opted to pare down any notion of extravagance – a tricky feat given the opulent settings. Strolling below the golden ceilings came jeans and everyday wardrobe staples like a cream roll-neck jumper, a jersey zip-up and an oversized grey hoodie so large it extended into a dress. As club sounds pulsated louder throughout the show (provided by NYC-based artist Hennessey), as did the clothes, seemingly coming alive with every beat. Suddenly, sharp heels, sparkly party dresses and gold embellishments weaved their way into the line-up of everyday wear. But, like the dark corners of any sexy, exclusive Parisian nightclub, these pieces weren’t thrust in faces, rather intermingled with the simpler pieces. As usual with Slimane’s Celine, it’s not about novelty, but refining the timeless (and quintessentially Parisian) wardrobe.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

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Rejuvenating. Valentino Pre-Fall 2022

Keeping a consistent narrative is crucial for a brand’s credibility today; Gen Z customers, the demographic coveted by every luxury house, are drawn to designers whose work is creative and value-driven in equal measure. That dynamic isn’t lost on Pierpaolo Piccioli, who has rebooted Valentino for a new audience, amping up the brand’s cultural ethos to resonate with the zeitgeist. Pivoting on the label’s extraordinary couture heritage, Piccioli’s focus is to translate the codes of Italian savoir faire into an aesthetic that, while staying true to its high-style fundamentals, speaks to the attitudes of fashion’s younger consumers. This ongoing exercise somehow peaked, both visually and conceptually, in Piccioli’s spring collection last October, paraded in the streets of Paris with fashion students filling many of the seats. Models sported individual looks styled to suit their personality, further highlighting the intent to relate to the world of today. Picking up where that show left off, the words ‘real’ and ‘reality’ came up quite often in a conversation with the designer about pre-fall. Piccioli believes that the aesthetic codes of the maison can be given a different meaning by shifting the way they’re interpreted by the wearer. To that end, for pre-fall he worked on pieces quintessentially Valentino (so much so that some templates came directly from couture collections), but “shuffled the attitude,” as he said, and tweaked the styling to create a sort of dissonance and vitality.

Shot in the streets of London on young models, the lookbook images were conceived as a “portrait of a generation that wears clothes not necessarily different from those of 10, 20 years ago, but which are adapted to today’s lifestyle and our real social context,” said Piccioli. Case in point was the little black dress, a staple for cocktail receptions in a bourgeois milieu that Piccioli believes can be twisted into a sort of clubbing uniform. On the same note, an immaculate short white cape with matching pleated shirt that would’ve looked apropos on Marisa Berenson in the ‘70s if paired with high heels and a silk blouse, was given a cooler spin styled with a cropped marinière and chunky loafers. A sumptuous purple robe coat, lavishly embroidered with the Valentino atelier’s handcrafted couture techniques was turned into a citycoat and worn over a pair of distressed denim pants. The challenge Piccioli faces is to immerse into today’s complex reality a label whose imagery is rarefied and rooted in a world of privilege, twisting the references and techniques of couture to suit a modern way of dressing that favors personality instead of status. “I want to breathe life into Valentino,” he reiterated. “I want its idea of perfect beauty to be somehow stained, so to speak, by the reality of today’s life, and to make it alive and relevant for a community of people with no reverence towards fashion, but who inhabit fashion with sentiment and an attitude of personal creativity.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

NET-A-PORTER Limited

Take Her To Monte Carlo. Chanel Resort 2023

The day before presenting her Chanel resort collection on a sandy runway slicing through the pebbles of the Hotel Monte-Carlo Beach, the brand’s artistic director Virginie Viard was in a nostalgic mood. As she garlanded her models in jewelry dripping with gilded dolphins and sea shells in the cavernous space of the hotel’s poolside Art Deco ballroom, Viard recalled many happy moments spent with Karl Lagerfeld in the monied, minuscule principality where he maintained an apartment and leased the extraordinary Belle Epoque villa La Vigie. It was on the terraces of this villa that Viard remembered Lagerfeld shooting Linda and Christy in the iconic sequin scuba jackets from his spring 1991 collection. “That was very funny,” she recalled, “I adore La Vigie. At the end I was here every year: for the Bal de la Rose, with Karl, Caroline, Charlotte, for shootings… We would always go to Rampoldi, Karl’s favorite restaurant.” It was those memories of Princess Caroline and her equally beauteous daughter Princess Charlotte that infused the spirit of the collection, as well as a playful take on what else Monte Carlo means to the designer – “the casino, Helmut Newton’s girls, the car races… we like to play with all the cliches!” As Viard added, the inspiration drew on collective memories. Sofia Coppola, for instance, who filmed the resort collection with her brother Roman this season, remembered a family trip to watch Ayrton Senna race in the 1992 Monaco Grand Prix – “noisy, glamorous, exciting!” said Coppola – when they were all invited to stay at La Vigie.

Thinking of those races by way of Charlie’s Angels, Viard dressed her girls in a racing driver’s all-in-ones and mechanic’s overalls, although these were sequined and, perhaps, designed as trompe l’oeil jacket and pant combinations. There were silk prints of waving starter flags fashioned into drifting chiffon skirts to graze the ankles, and tweeds woven from images of massed cars on the tracks, abstracted on the loom into a shimmer of asphalt gray and brilliant primaries. And for purses, how about an adorable mini full-face driver’s helmet? Sure to be high on the Chanel addict’s must-have list. There are also wrestling shorts, biker jackets, cricket sweaters, and tennis rackets if you are so inclined. The Helmut Newton inspiration, meanwhile, meant some sexy attitude in the shirt dresses slouched off a shoulder and a plethora of short shorts and minis that brought with them the promise of summer. The wonders of the 19M ateliers of craftspeople were reflected in touches like the bouquets of beautifully crafted silk flowers, an evening slink bristling with feather fronds (both supplied by Lemarié), and witty t-shirts sequined to suggest racing driver’s tops (sleeves branded with linking Cs), or scattered with pretty floreate embroideries by the storied houses of Lesage and Montex. “It’s very inspiring to be here,” said Viard, looking across to the pool and the Mediterranean waters to the high rise metropolis rising up the hills beyond, “It’s easy.” Just like Viard’s breezy collection and her uncomplicated vision for dressing today’s Chanel woman. 

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.