Eccentric Girl. Chanel AW20 Couture

Things started looking up for this unusual, digital haute couture season the moment Chanel revealed its gorgeous collection by Virginie Viard. No pointless mega-productions with special effects, just a short video and a proper look-book shot by Mikael Jansson starring Adut Akech and Rianne Van Rompaey. The focus is on the clothes, which are a delight. “I was thinking about eccentric girls,” Virginie Viard said of her autumn-winter 2020 couture line-up. In particular, Viard was remembering Karl Lagerfeld heading off to parties with his sometime muse, the madcap Princess Diane de Beauvau-Craon, who as a teenage debutante got herself an American crewcut to give some punk edge to the pretty but detested pink dress her mother had chosen for her coming-out ball. “Life with her around is the ideal for me,” Lagerfeld said of de Beauvau-Craon when he spoke with Vogue, “because life must never be flat. She gives a light spirit, yet she is deeply spiritual.” Viard wanted to swing to some escapist opulence after last season’s soulful austerity – and because we all need the dream of a grand party right now! Viard was thinking of “things that maybe I would not do in a show – punk hair, fine jewelry.” Those Chanel haute bijoux included yellow diamond lions (Chanel herself was a Leo) and tiaras. The de Beauvau-Craon touch erupts in the form of a short frothy taffeta dress and faille ball skirts or a full-skirted retro cocktail dress of flowering black and white lace spliced with lacquered pink lace – and in punk feather mohawk bangs worn in the hair, and the lace-up court shoes that would have been perfect for dancing the night away in the great 1980s Parisian nightspots Les Bain Douches and Le Palace. As usual in her work, Virginie looks towards the essence of Chanel. Tweed figures large in the collection for day and night: a knee-length tunic worn over boot-leg pants, for instance, or a minidress with the traditional Chanel braid trim reworked in rhinestones. There is more amazing trompe l’oeil in the allover Lesage embroidery of a lean jacket worn with an ankle-length skirt, or in the Emmanuelle Vernoux–embroidered sleeves of a decorous wool ball gown, or the Montex sequin and wool tufts of an off-the-shoulder minidress. Viard provides subtle elegance too –  which I always adore the most in her collections – in pieces that include a sheath of inky faille with bishop sleeves or a solemn evening gown of steel gray silk velvet (my favourite), discreetly dusted with embroidery at the waist and cuff, and jackets with midriffs defined by hand smocking. Viard aptly describes the looks as “casual and grand” – and this is what I call relevant couture.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Choice – Valentino AW18 Couture

A few days ago I asked you on my Instagram stories to pick one of your favourite collections ever and I would make a collage with it. Here’s @kozlic_’s choice: the holy Valentino autumn-winter 2018 haute couture by Pierpaolo Piccioli. “With ready-to-wear, your vision of beauty relates to the times you are living in,” Piccioli stated back then after his magnificent show. Then, he concluded: “couture involves a deeper and more intimate perspective, to go further into your own vision of beauty.” Take a look back at this collection right here.

If you missed the game, you can still write me your favourite collection and I will do the work. Got plenty of time. Culture isn’t cancelled, fashion isn’t cancelled!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Old Classics. Proenza Schouler SS20

While a less sophisticated collection from Eckhaus Latta feels right once in a while, Proenza Schouler’s new season offering again misses something that used to make the label so in-demand. Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough are very good at tailoring, and even better at cutting a fluid-y, silk dress (the printed one worn by Adut Akech is the biggest highlight of the collection). But in the sea of great blazers and dresses we’ve seen last season and again this season in New York, this doesn’t make Proenza stand out. It seems to me that the Proenza Schouler identity is gradually getting blurrier and less distinctive. Not that the spring-summer 2020 collection is bad: it has lots of classics, like an over-sized coat or an XXL shoulder bag. However, those clothes don’t spark any feelings in me. Where’s the bolder, art-ier Proenza Schouler? Hope it will come back soon.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Balance. Marc Jacobs AW19

Marc Jacobs closed New York fashion week with one of his best collections in the last years – or even, career. While the past few seasons were brilliant, they slightly worried with being too exaggerated, too show-y. The autumn-winter 2019 collection is just the perfect balance of Jacobs, and what his brand stands for. New York edginess combined with this cool, ‘off’ glamour. There was drama, of course: the yellow gown worn by Adut Akech looked insanely gorgeous, just as the dresses covered in feathers, as seen on Christy Turlington (by the way, it’s her major runway return after 20 years and let me tell you – she is so, so beautiful). But there was something calm about this collection. Even sober. The venue was dark and absolutely minimal. Classical, live music played throughout the show. No killer platform boots or crazy hair – most of the models looked make-up free and wore beanies topped with a feather (that’s how Stephen Jones does ‘casual’). There was stuff that will sell, like the voluminous, lady-like coats in leopard print, stripes or checks, and hopefully this brings the brand back to the buyers. You might say that the collection is inconsistent: how does Sara Grace Wallerstedt’s minimal pistachio dress works with Guinevere Van Seenus’ ruffled, retro ensemble? They shouldn’t. And Jacobs is fine with that. “They’re all very beautiful, but they’re all different. We have 40 girls and each one is slightly different… our vision of who each of these women are,” is what the designer said about both, the collection’s diverse model casting, and the aim behind the entire line-up. A ‘wardrobe’ would be a bad term to describe this, as this is something much more broader. It’s rather a set of personalities, in the fashion aspect, but not only. Shortly: big, big bravo, Marc.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki, feauturing Richard Avedon’s photographs.

Colour. Valentino Couture SS19

Pierpaolo Piccioli’s couture for Valentino is the only couture that matters. No crazy venues that attempt to distract you from noticing how plain the collection is (I see you, Dior and Chanel). Just pure, joyous, glorious haute couture that enchants and truly impresses. And makes Celine Dion cry. This spring-summer 2019 collection, reserved for the richest and most extravagant women on our planet, was a triumph of audacious colour, beauty and glamour. But also, it was a major model casting breakthrough, with completely diverse models that made the garments even more exquisite. The designer embraced black beauty, having Adut Akech open the show (in a brilliant, pink ensemble) and Naomi Campbell close (in a gown made out of translucent organza in the shade of Chocolate Dahlia). There was Liya Kebede, there was Lineisy Montero, there was Ugbad Abdi. Runway icons, veterans, and newcomers. The entire scene looked like a fairy-tale… that really took place. This couture collection again proved that colour is crucial for Pierpaolo, especially in terms of couture. “You don’t invent beauty, but you can invent new harmonies for colour”, the maestro said backstage. Just read the following: a coral coat worn with a chocolate crepe blouse and emerald gabardine pants. Lilac serape topped a pair of orange pants. Turquoise lace and tangerine silk faille. Green sequins. Pale mauve. Matisse blue. All that worked with voluminous ball gowns that took hundreds of hours to create at Valentino atelier in Rome. Unquestionably, Piccioli is a couturier of Garavani’s heights. And it’s a blessing for today’s fashion to experience his genius.

All collages by Edward Kanarecki.