The 2010s: Haider Ackermann AW14

Believe it or not – I can’t! – but we’re heading towards a new millenium. So, how do you choose the most important collections, designers and labels of the decade? The ones that made an actual impact in the 2010s? Well, it’s not an easy task. It all began in September 2009 with New York’s spring-summer 2010 shows and ended when the autumn-winter 2019 haute couture shows wrapped in Paris. Few thousands of shows, by the way. There will be 19 posts (that’s really the only possible minimum!) reminding about the best – and if not the best, then strongly influencing – moments in fashion.

Haider Ackermann‘s AW14 perfection.

Of course, Haider Ackermann has many things to look back at this decade: his Berluti stint, all the custom looks he created for Tilda Swinton and Timothee Chalamet for their red carpet appearances, every single menswear and womenswear collection he presented… but there’s one line-up I will never forget. The autumn-winter 2014 collection. That time, Ackermann utterly seduced with his sensual silhouette, garbed in contrasting cuts and volumes. Some of the garments were built for street (biker jackets, mannish jackets, comfy cardigans, skinny cropped jeans), others were decidedly more refined (floor-sweeping duster coats, oversized trousers, draped jersey dresses, and plunging tops, all sent out in autumn-ish, masculine fabrics – tweeds, plaids, houndstooth, flannel, fur and felt galore). A poised, poetically dark allure.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s / For Robert. Ann Demeulemeester SS18

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Sébastien Meunier‘s spring-summer 2018 collection for Ann Demeulemeester was a clear message: a romantic ode to Robert Mapplethorpe, the late New York-based photographer. While some designers resign from mood-boards and straight-forward references, Meunier decided to fully convey his respect for the artist. In fact, the forever elusive persona of Mapplethorpe has much to do with Demeulemeester’s house-codes and legacy. For instance, the New Yorker of the 70s and 80s had an intense love relationship with Patti Smith – a muse and long-time friend of the brand’s founder. That’s quite a connection. Then, the dark aesthetic of Robert’s work and his personal style. Probably, if you could pick the best Ann Demeulemeester kind of man, then the choice would be clear. The clothes say it all: loosely-fit black trousers; sheer tank-tops; robes with a poet-like feel. But also, crumpled white shirts and lots of charms and pendants. Although Meunier definitely took the softer image of Mapplethorpe (distant from leather kinkiness), the designer succeeded reaching his goal.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki (backdrop: Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs).

Melancholy. Ann Demeulemeester AW17

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This is a very romantic girl who mixes all her lace and old garments,” said Sébastien Meunier backstage. “She wants to go and party, but in a different mood.” If melancholic attitude in fashion really exists, then Ann Demeulemeester autumn-winter 2017 collection precisely defines it. Feather inserts and intricately embellished, lace straps; long and flowing dresses styled with veils and leather pants. Very Ann. Meunier is getting better and better with every season, respecting Demeulemeester’s codes and injecting his own, dark aesthetic.

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Draped Ethereal. Rick Owens SS17

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After seasons of contemplating on humanity, Rick Owens looks at the brighter side of things for spring-summer 2017. Nina Simone on the show’s soundtrack (the show-note claimed that the designer listens to her everyday in his studio); joyous colour palette dripped in yellow; models wearing voluminous, extravagant silhouettes. Draping is a keyword for Owens’ latest creations, and this season isn’t an exception. Drifty dresses with fantastically sculpted, furry hems at the front stole the spotlight, just like the ethereal closing looks. For the last few pieces, Owens collaborated with Maison Lemarié, a Parisian atelier specialising in work with feathers and plume. The effect? Three, impressively fluid-like capes covered in ostrich feathers. In the dark world of Owens, it’s rare to say something is fairly tale magnificent: for spring-summer 2017, it’s a must.

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Big Return. Olivier Theyskens SS17

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Paris Fashion Week is the time of big debuts: Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent and Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior to name the most significant ones. But also, it kicks off with a big return. Olivier Theyskens. The designer who placed little canaries on stilettos back in 2002; the man behind iconic heel-less shoes at Nina Ricci. Prince of avant-garde, who has been sorely missed, surprised everyone when he reappeared in the season’s schedule. However, his spring-summer 2017 collection is far from fuss: intimately presented to a group of 80 editors and fashion industry friends, there were 25 looks. Both numbers seem to be unrealistically small for a fashion show in 2016 – but sometimes, it’s the quality, not quantity, that matters.

Theyskens had an occasion to refresh everybody’s memory with his cult signatures. Python leather leggings and very high heels are still his favourites; blazers with sleekly corseted waists are pure romance; elusive transparency revealed a thing or two. And the all-black colour palette (with minor splashed of red and white). Leave sultry to Olivier, as his love for women’s body is reflected in those sharp mini-dresses and intriguingly cut skirts. To a certain extend, I see some similarities between Theyskens’ latest outing of noir ready-to-wear, and Azzedine Alaia’s chic-defining fashion shows. The mood of privacy, and a kind of luxurious modesty, radiates in work of these two legendary designers. Even though they come from totally different decades, their sophisticated, and somewhat dramatic elegance never goes out of fashion style.

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East. Ania Kuczyńska AW16

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Ania Kuczyńska is Poland’s most recognizable designer for a reason. After years of working in the industry, her signature style is distinct. Her fashion is consistent, and that’s why she’s leading in Polish fashion game. Aware of her ‘trademark’ pieces, like her take on the little black dress, or Warsaw’s street-style favourite Shanghai totes, Kuczyńska’s eponymous attitude is beloved by her intellectual customers. But don’t think she’s resting on laurels.

The newest autumn-winter 2016 look-book (presented off the schedule), entitled ‘East’, might be dubbed as one of her most refined collections to date. At the first glance it’s very stern, definitely moving away from girlie sweetness which we know so well from Ania’s past collections. Mostly kept in black, with contrasting denim accents, the collection glances at the craftsmanship of the past. With nods to traditional ‘dress-code’ of Polish noblemen from 16th-17th century, AW16 is a contemporary look on elegance of historic silhouettes.  Some of the names of new season’s items – for example ‘Baikal’ for a bomber jacket – make it visible that the collection is rooted in Slavic references, which aren’t too cartoonish or literal. The designer’s vision is always open for interpretation, leaving some mystery for the viewer. I, for instance, feel a connection between those incredible black coats and turtlenecks, and Paweł Pawlikowski’s masterpiece, Ida – a story of a nun who discovers her Jewish origins, and seeks the truth about her family. The black-and-white aura of this film goes hand in hand with Kuczyńska’s  elusive woman.

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Throwback Sunday – Balenciaga SS98′

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#ThrowbackSunday – spring / summer 1998

The debut collection of Nicolas Ghesquiere at Balenciaga. When the yet unknown designer came to Cristobal Balenciaga’s dusty and forgotten brand, it sold funeral clothing to Japanese licences. So, after the failure of the former creative director, Josephus Thimister, Nicolas had a field to show-off his talent. For the first collection in 1998, Ghesquiere decided to keep it mostly black, concentrating on the variety of silhouettes and sharp tailoring. Even though the collection felt very modest at the first sight, it was just a teaser of Nicolas’ prosperous and bold 15 years at Balenciaga.

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Let this mourning parade of black-only looks be a quiet nod to Friday’s horryfying events that took place in Paris.

Men’s – Cyclops. Rick Owens SS16

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Cyclops” was the keyword of yesterday’s Rick Owens show. The mythological creature with one eye is a symbol of men aggression and devastation – and precisely this was presented through severely curled hairstyles of the models and tattered tunics. The maxi tank-tops had something chaotic about them, too. A kind of violence was visible in the clothes, that’s sure. Leather and other various textiles were all sewn together, giving an arty, very impulsive and emotional expression. However, the whole vision of Owens’ new collection was disturbed by Jera, a model-muse of the designer. Suddenly, during the show, the German model took out a banner that said “PLEASE KILL ANGELA MERKEL…NOT“. The unplanned stunt was said to be totally out of Owens’ hands, with the designer being furious and stressing in an interview backstage, “I don’t know because it was not my idea. He pulled it out and I punched him when he came off stage.” Whatever this message meant to be, this what Jera did was disrespectful for the whole project Rick Owens and his team worked on.

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Noir Creatures. Yohji Yamamoto AW15

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The poet of black, Yohji Yamamoto, pushes the boundary again in his avant-garde world. The dresses weren’t dresses anymore. They were a form of art installations. Like a parachute explosion worn over a black turtleneck. Or a vacuum cleaner overload. There are many interpretations of Yohji’s fall fantasy – one thing’s sure. The more ready-to-wear clothes were great, too. In the black palette, Yohji Yamamoto modifies knitwear, shirts and masculine-inspired silhouettes to form a new dimension. The layering impresses as usual, making the models magically drown in black. Styled with  perfect fedoras, the outfits were eccentric and wearable at the same time – even though, some might have been still under construction.

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