Nocturnal Glamour. Dries Van Noten AW20

After last season‘s collaboration with Christian Lacroix, it was clear that for autumn-winter 2020, Dries Van Noten would somehow continue with this energy. That psychological afterglow is with Van Noten, as he cheerfully admitted backstage of his show: “With Christian it was so liberating to enjoy, to play, to not think too far ahead about product.” He laughed, summing up what he learned from his friend, the French couturier. “If you think you have a lot of fabric and embroidery, then do some more! Just go for it!” Van Noten was thinking about “nocturnal glamour” and particularly the dressed-to-kill creatures of the glam 1970s and high 1980s, whom he glimpsed from afar as a young man in Antwerp, in the form of the high-gloss photography of the makeup artist Serge Lutens. Maybe she was heading for a night at the most trendy club in Paris. Or maybe that was her, wending her way home in daylight, with a plaid coat shrugged over her glitter. “It’s about going out, enjoying life – having fun, that’s very important!” he remarked. “I thought of this party girl. Something mysterious. Something dark. But I questioned how far it could go, while staying contemporary.” His solution was to partially casualize the glamour by applying his melee of acid green and fuchsia jungle prints to fluid pajama shapes, and adding ’90s grunge–influenced plaids and hip-tied shirts to the mix. Equally head-turning: a dress in a violent purple, streaked with silver embroidery. Billie Eilish’ slime-green hair is a sort of 2020 party-look must-have which Dries picked up as well.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Sensational. Mugler AW20

Casey Cadwallader‘s Mugler is sensational. His vision of the brand is compatible with Thierry Mugler’s dramatic, super sexual vision of the brand, but makes it look contemporary and fit for women of all sizes and generations. A good many of the looks on his fall runway weren’t even street legal. Wearing the body stockings – sheer save for black insets echoing Mugler’s famously dangerous curves – would require a bodyguard. Mesh dresses studded with a grid-like precision were somewhat more discreet and a shade more democratic for that reason. Cadwallader adopted a similarly fierce attitude for his tailoring. Much of it was cut from leather. He also continues in mastering his stretch pieces. Jackets were shaped by integral corsets, or else they came with portrait necklines that framed the bust. He even went so far as to build garter belts into the waistbands of a couple of leather skirts. Cadwallader is one of the few designers that sees sexy in all sizes. There “are 2s, 4s, 6s, 8s, 10s,” he said of his lineup. “You feel them turning on when they put on these clothes.” Big yes.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Restorative. Maison Margiela AW20

Rember John Galliano‘s recent Maison Margiela couture collection? It was all about creating beauty out of upcycling. For autumn-winter 2020, the designer continued that concept, with joyful effects. “Restorative!” Galliano declaimed. “The idea of giving something a new life… kick-starting a new consciousness.” These were some of the resoundingly enthusiastic phrases Galliano poured into ears via the post-show podcast he’s started to release in lieu of backstage interviews. “Recicla! Retch-ee-cla!” he cried. “The joy, the joy that we will be able to sell these pieces among the rest of the collection just thrills me.” The collection was beautiful to look at: his mastership in cutting up and re-sectioning of “bourgeois” classics is just insanely good. Galliano has talked of wanting to retrieve and hold onto the fragments of meaning that remain in the fading memories of the 20th-century wardrobe. The finale dress, a delicate thing made from laser-stamped lavender chiffon, was the “ghost” of a 1920s flapper dress floating back from a century ago. This season, Galliano also reopens “Replica” reeditions of vintage clothing that Martin Margiela originated at the house, making sure to print the date of provenance on the label. Galliano’s purpose in studying vintage pieces is different, though: he lops and excavates structures to discover new forms, often “freeze-framing” work in progress. And so, with this collection, “instead of slavishly copying” he decided that studio-reworked charity shop finds deserve to be sold as they are. “Now I’m feeling a little braver,” he said. “The idea is that this voyage of discovery supports this feeling of being inventive with a conscience.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Bourgeois Chic. Lanvin AW20

Bruno Sialelli grows up at Lanvin. His autumn-winter 2020 outing was his most convincing outing yet and might be the right starting point for the new Lanvin image. The designer approached the beautiful value of Jeanne Lanvin’s legacy, creating an elegant, bourgeois-chic collection. There were plenty of Sialelli’s favorite tailored outerwear pieces with oversized or fur-textured collars – that’s the part he just can’t skip in his post-Loewe work. However, these were less oversophisticated with overelaborate styling. What else pleased? Some “playful” accessories that will surely attract a young customer: a lipstick pendant, a ceramic fox face bracelet, the patisserie-box bags. The clothes are refined and definitely will be cherished by more mature ones. Big bravos for casting Paloma Elsesser – seeing an over-sized model in Paris is great, and I hope it will be the new norm since this season.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Power. Saint Laurent AW20

Here’s one of the most brilliant collections coming from Anthony Vaccarello for Saint Laurent. There was power, there was vibrance, there was colour – something I missed or didn’t really feel in his last collections. And, it didn’t look like Hedi Slimane’s Celine. The opening look laid bare exactly what he was thinking of for the season: an haute bourgeois red tartan double-breasted blazer, gilt-buttoned, velvet-collared, atop a matching jabot neckline blouse, hair swept back, substantial gold and jet earrings, and… black latex trousers. And there was plenty more of tailoring: exquisite jackets, impeccably cut, double-breasted, many with those same gilded buttons, in ochre cashmere, pearly gray flannel, jaunty navy wool, natty brown houndstooth – and all worn with those same dominatix, all-gloss pants. What was new and completely refreshing was the way Vaccarello chose to riff on the lush sensuality that Monsieur Saint Laurent was such a master of. And what else was new, yet very Yves: the uninhibited sense of color, with Vaccarello working his way through the classic YSL palette – fuchsia to purple to emerald to hot pink – and showcasing it his own way through that extremely non-classic latex. But when styled with YSL’s Le Scandale-inspired fur coats, it all made even more sense. Backstage, Vaccarello acknowledged the #MeToo climate, and spoke of celebrating a woman’s power and her own sense of self. Ever since his arrival at Saint Laurent, Vaccarello has endorsed a woman’s right to express her own physicality, and her sexuality, any way she wants.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.