Los Angeles. Dior Resort’18

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Firstly, that was Maria Grazia Chiuri‘s best collection at Dior up-to-date. And it was far, far away from Paris. Comparing to her previous outing – an all-blue collection, which rather looked like Armani’s millionth set of blazers than a second line-up from a debuting creative director – resort 2018 was quite outstanding. With preciously intricate gowns (which will surely find a place among L.A.’ wealthiest women), an incredible tent constructed in the middle of Upper Las Virgenes Canyon in Calabasas and a strong, Georgia O’Keeffe moment (the late “Mother of American modernism” was known for wearing a black hat and matching over-sized coat), there’s a lot to mention, while discussing this collection. After the show, Maria Grazia said that she has a life-long love affair with Clarissa Pinkola Estés book called Women Who Run with the Wolves – that set the free-spirited mood behind the silhouettes. Moreover, the designer decided to use the famous Lascaux cave paintings as the main print for rich, jacquard fabrics (Monsieur Dior used them too, back in 1951). Then, we also had the tribal symbols covering silk sheaths and ball skirts, underscoring Chiuri’s love for mystical themes.

But, am I the only one, who thinks that there’s too much going on in here? It’s beautiful, no doubt. However, Maria Grazia’s vision for this season has no bigger connection with the maison, as for me. Expect, a few old-school Dior logos on the bags and a suede bar jacket with fringes (AND this looked really upsetting). It seems that the designer has no sense of consistency, as she jumps from one topic to another – and that’s clearly visible once you re-see her previous collections, spanning from enchanted forest nymphs to faux-feminists in pricey t-shirts. And the saddest thing is that Dior’s identity becomes blurrier with every season. Resort 2018 rather looks like a well-funded Ralph Lauren collection or Chanel’s memorable Paris-Texas capsule (déjà vu, anyone?).

One thing’s sure – Chiuri knows how to design a dress and make Rihanna see her show. But does she know how to lead a heritage brand with sense? I think we’re getting to the point, where the answer is ‘no’.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Birds of Paradise

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Helmut Lang spring-summer 1998

In her twisted elegance for spring-summer 2017, Miuccia Prada sent down a line of feather-trimmed jackets, bras and skirts. The dresses by Prada, with ostrich-feathers on the sleeves, were pure lightness, blurring the silhouttes’ minimal cut and old-fashioned opulence. “No other material stirs the imagination quite like the feather“, said the intro to Antwerp’s MoMU exhibition dedicated to plumes and feathers back in 2014. That’s quite true – for centuries, feathers were symbol of sophistication and refinement in women’s wardrobe. Valued by designers, like Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen (and the late  designer himself) or even Phoebe Philo of Céline, feathers are the quintessence of preciousness. Whether traditionally crafted by skilled artisans called plumassiers, detailed with the help of Maison Lemarié in Paris or simply turned into ethereal headpieces (Maria Grazia Chiuri’s debut haute couture collection for Dior; Helmut Lang‘s all-white feather crowns from the 90s).

Some designers choose to use feathers spontaneously, one-time, like London-based Christopher Kane. But others, like Ann Demeulemeester, feel strong affection towards feathers since childhood. The queen of Belgian fashion especially favoured dove feathers and transformed them into timeless pendants. For her first fashion show in Paris in 1992, she placed on each chair a leather string holding dove feathers. In 2000, a priest called her and asked whether she can ‘dress’ the Madonna in Saint Andrew’s church in Antwerp. The effect was a feather bustier, which ideally matched the holliness and spirituality of this place. Although Demeulemeester stepped down from her role at the brand, Sébastien Meunier succesfully continues her feather legacy. Just see his poetic autumn-winter 2017 collection for men (note the hats and shawls).

One of the biggest fashion moments connected to feathers that always hits my mind is Peter Lindbergh’s cult editorial for Harper’s Bazaar in 1993. Amber Valletta, looking like a fallen angel, wanders around New York in her white wings and white suit. Beautiful and melancholic simultaneously. Light as a feather.

Shop the look: Ann Demeulemeester bead and feather necklace.

A Matter of Feminism. Dior SS17

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Today in Poland, thousands of brave women and great men walked down the streets wearing black. They were protesting in solidarity against an anti-abortion law, which is meant to be introduced by the Polish government – in other words, instead of spreading sexual awareness and wider access to contraception, politicians want to utterly limit women’s rights to their bodies in my country. And all of that happens at the same time when Paris Fashion Week is at its full spin. Rarely does a fashion week glamorama relate to reality, and it’s nearly a non-sense to compare those two, completely different universes. But still, Dior‘s spring-summer 2017 burns in my head intensely, noting today’s events.

A few months ago, Maria-Grazia Chiuri, a former designer of Valentino (she worked with Pierpaolo Piccioli, who’s now the head of the brand), was announced as the new creative director of this historic French maison. Yes, you’ve read that correctly: a woman is taking Dior under her wings. Chiuri definitely made history with her appointment, and her step forward highlighted that it’s an ultimate end of a women-less era in fashion… which is, ironically, mostly created for women. Trust me, I was extremely excited about her debut collection. But when I saw the entire show, I felt disgusted. A dummy knew that Maria-Grazia would hit the topic of her own phenomenal appearance in this brand.

In result, she delivered t-shirts with slogans like “we should all be feminists“. How. Banal.

From a position of a female fashion designer, who did Valentino, and now does Dior, being a “feminist” should give an example to millions of people – really, the platform of influence is huge. But in the end, it’s about a t-shirt, which will surely cost approximately 200 euros (or more?). Looking down, we’ve got a meticulously embroidered tulle dress, which will, hah, cost a car. I love fashion, and this industry, but I’m frustrated with the way such important topics as “feminism” is easily printed and tagged around. It’s just about being desperately relevant. It’s like the spring-summer 2015 collection by Chanel, where Karl Largerfeld sent out a line of XS-sized models in couture tweeds to protest in a faux demonstration. In my very personal opinion, coining the term “feminism” can’t be anyhow compared to egalitarian (Valentino and Chanel are far from affordable), or can’t be approached lightly, without a second thought. And while I’m still in the mood of protests and outrage, seeing a fashion collection which is “trying” to be feminist hurts.

Ok, let me chill. Do you want to see real feminism in fashion? Rei Kawakubo at Comme des Garçons. She is the founder of her entire company, and she continues to thrive as an independent owner of it. Phoebe Philo is the embodiment of feminism at Céline, where she creates wearable, everyday clothes for every kind of women. It’s pricey, but a Philo piece is an investment for life. While at Valentino, we’ve got ballerina dresses, tons of embellishments and Dior-logo heels – barely classics. Not that Maria-Grazia Chiuri is a bad designer, or anything like that. I just hope that her tenure at Dior won’t end with a pack of short-sighted slogans.

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What’s Coming for SS17?

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Via @natalia_misbhv

So, what’s coming for the spring-summer 2017 season? New designers debutting at big houses; young labels that will steal the spotlight; beauty cannon redefining moments; grear and bad collections. But, why are we thinking about summer of the next year? Note: first days of September – New York Fashion Week kicks off. And August is about to end soon…

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On the 10th of September, Natalia Maczek and her team will hit New York with a first ever, MISBHV presentation. Coming straight from Cracow, Poland, the streetwear brand (adored by my friends here) is known for its über-cool, defiant aesthetic. Think gothic fonts, over-sized everything and strip-tease platforms. You might think it’s a wannabe Vetements – but no, MISBHV was nailing it on the Polish streets long time before the French collective’s fame.

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It’s hard being a young and independent fashion designer in Paris, fighting for attention in the crowd of Chanel-s, Balmain-s and Vuitton-s. But still, a wave of young, French designers thrives to convey their vision of fashion. Meet Koché, the creation of Christelle Kocher, the new girl in the schedule and a second-time LVMH finalist .“I’m sharing my Paris with other people,” is how she described her AW16 unusual venue of her fashion – the 18th-century Passage du Prado, which nowadays is adopted by African hairdressers and little mobile phone shops. So, no – it’s not Grand Palais or a Rue Saint Honore showroom. I tell you – keep Koché on your radar.

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Sander Lak, the man behind Sies Marjan, is into the 90s, and that might be the reason why his pastel-pink pieces got sold out within the minutes on-line. Although AW16 was his first season, the New York-based designer, takes it easy in the fashion industry. With his experience (he used to work at Dries Van Noten) and colour sensibility, I bet he will pull off another, jaw-dropping outing this season.

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London is burning with talents, and Fashion East understands the needs of young individuals. That’s why, the SS17 scheme is really exciting: we’ve got A.V. Robertson, who envisions another dimension of embroidery and embellishment; there’s Matty Bovan, a LVMH prize winner, who worked (together with Robetson) on Marc Jacobs’ prints, and collaborated with Miu Miu on their latest presentation. We will also get to know Mimi Wade and Richard Malone closer during the upcoming London Fashion Week.

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Anthony Vaccarello was announced as the new creative director at Saint Laurent, and his debut in Paris will tell, whether he’s able to take a big house under his wings. There are three options – he will go Hedi Slimane’s path, delivering a grunge-y set of clothes; he will do it the way he does it at his namesake label; or, he will literally shock everyone. I hope that the last option becomes true. For now, there’s a lot of Anja Rubik on his Instagram.

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Maria Grazia Chiuri is another designer who will soon debut at a major, French maison. Well, in fact she switched Valentino for Dior. Good for Dior.

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Boucher Jarrar‘s start at Lanvin isn’t the best. Just take  look at her “first” collection, so resort 2017. Sure, pre-collections should be commercial, but… they shouldn’t be that boring Alber Elbaz’ frivolous legacy is erased for good, while Jeanne Lanvin’s quintessence is barely here. Time will show, whether Bouchra’s clean minimalism does any good for Lanvin.

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Demna Gvasalia‘s debut at Balenciaga is already behind us – but I can’t wait to see what is he up to for spring-summer 2017.

September, come!

A Bigger Splash

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We are all OBSCENE!

I’ve been waiting for A Bigger Splash since last September, and just yesterday I had a chance to see it in the cinema. But the waiting was honestly worth it, as I can openly say that I’m obsessed with it even more than I were few months ago. Luca Guadagnino‘s sultry, Italian sun-bathed thriller, starring Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, Ralph FiennesMatthias Schoenaerts and Lily McMenamy, is a masterpiece. Visually, musically, artistically.

On an idyllic island of Pantelleria, Marianne Lane, a rock-star (played by the one and only Swinton), cures herself from a temporary voice loss and is all in sensual, compassionate relationship with Paul (Schoenaerts). Lying naked on the off-beat beach all day, the couple’s fantasy escape is interrupted by a spontanous visit of chaotic, impulsive Harry (played by Fiennes), Marianne’s music producer and old, drug-fuelled love. He arrives to the island with a shocking surprise: his “newly-discovered” daughter, Penelope (Dakota Johnson), who is a reflection of a melancholic lolita-teenager. The atmosphere gets stinking hot, as jealousy, untamed love and temperamental desire start to ooze in the relations between these equally vivid characters. Dancing to Rolling Stone’s Emotional Rescue, Harry is getting on everybody’s nerves, simultaneously inducing Marianne to fall in love with him, again. On the other side of the terracotta tiled pool, we’ve got Paul, a level-headed, loyal lover to Lane; but then, there is Penelope, whose coquettish behaviour and nasty attitude towards the others will make everything even more complicated…

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A Bigger Splash is a remake of French thriller La Piscine, which is iconic due to star power of Alain Delon, Romy Schneider and Jane Birkin – however, the plot has many reinterpreted, unpredictable twists. As Guadignino believes that fashion plays a major role in his films (!), the frivolous dresses, alluring skirts and sequined jumpsuits a la Ziggy Stardust, designed by Raf Simons during his tenure at Dior, fulfill the meaningful body language of Marianne. Also, the soundtrack of A Bigger Splash was curated in the dynamic, sexy rhyme of this (already) cult film – from rock’n’roll Nevada Wild tracks to operatic Popol Vuh, the play with sound is mind-blowing in here, too.

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Lily McMenamy in "A Bigger Splash"

I rarely (almost never) write about films on my blog – but I just couldn’t hold back from sharing my excitement with Luca’s film. Although it tells about pain and misunderstanding, obscenity and looking into the past, it’s an aesthetically beautiful nod to gestures, touch, sense and unconventional love. Should I even recommend it? Go for it, without consideration.

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Photographs above: Giulio Ghirardi examines the exquisite costumes and props, which helped bulid the elusive seductiveness of A Bigger Splash.