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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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.

HC – Carte Blance. Dior SS16

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Without a designer at helm, the house of Dior is a true carte blanché in many ways. For the summer haute couture season the studio staff (who were aesthetically trained by Raf Simons throughout his three-year tenure) tried to do their best. And to a surprise, unexpectedly they did a good job without a creative director (comparing to the disastrous collection from 2011, when Bill Gayten replaced John Galliano with his tasteless fashion). The collection had Simons’ minimal spirit present, just like it smartly played with Christian Dior’s legacy. Shoulder-exposing bar jackets, lace dresses with v-neck cuts and feminine suits looked breezy and fresh. The only major dissapointment is the lack of a beautiful, COUTURE ball-dress. I loved Raf’s couture collections because of his amazing dresses. This time, Dior feels pretty handicapped among the other brands without one, but that’s totally understandable – you can’t demand everything at a time from a studio-designed collection. Now, the question is – who is the person that will take-over the brand in the near future? Any guesses?

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The New Year Dress

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The most important question of the year appears – which dress should you were for the New Year Eve? Go for non-chalance or simplicity this time? Be the Diana Ross of the night or a femme fatale, let’s say, like the intriguing Mata Hari? Or is the dress-code free for interpretation? Here is the subjective selection of the fantasy dresses you might wear (or dream to wear) on the 31st of December!

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Not long after John Galliano’s arrival at Dior, the fashion crowd discovered the designer’s famous over-the-top style – staged in Paris’ Opera Garnier, the fashion show stunned everybody with the backless gowns in Art Nouveau prints, mink coats, avant-garde hats and of course, the gold-thread embroidered Marie Antoinette ball dress. A masterpiece which impresses me until now.

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Celine autumn-winter 2013

For those who enjoy comfort and effortless elegance – Phoebe Philo’s chic outing at Celine was all about modern silhouettes and flattering shapes. The outfit with a shoulder exposing top, a midi-lenght skirt and a pillow clutch might be just the right choice for a lounge party with fancy canapés.

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Alaia autumn-winter 1991

Animal magnetism” is how Azzedine Alaia described his collection back in 1991. Indeed, the leopard-print knit dress worn by Claudia Schiffer was all about Parisian sex-appeal. A sure take on a Pink Panther themed party.

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Lanvin spring-summer 2016

The last collection designed by Alber Elbaz for Lanvin was all about his signature, over-sized dresses. The one above, all in burgundy and red sequins stole my heart during the fashion week. And the silk scarf, which was worn by the model in a slouchy way gave the overall effect of “my New Eve will be spent with the person I love the most” statement.

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Yohji Yamamoto spring-summer 1999

When Malgosia Bela presented this parachute, white dress at Yohji Yamamoto’s show at the end of the last decade, everybody agreed – a white dress is not only worn to a wedding ceremony. I can guarantee you that if you appear in this voluminous piece at the newly opened gourmet restaurant during the New Year Eve – well, then the dinner is yours.

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Rochas pre-fall 2016

A bit dramatic, yet minimal – the Rochas maxi-dress styled with a fur stole is Alessandro Dell AcQua’s perfect tip for a last-minute New-Year-new-you-look.

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Gucci spring-summer 2016

Alessandro Michele can even make a track suit look brilliant for this special occasion – it’s all about a fair dose of hand-painted florals, a sheer, silk pussy-bow shirt and a pair of killer-hill stilettos. Also, there is a variety of embroidered dresses with ruffles and crotchet jumpsuits – true, these are eclectic and eccentric looks, but there is only one New Year Eve per year!

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Alexander McQueen autumn-winter 2010

The aristocratic, meticulously embroidered gown worn with a scarlet red cape – and all the attention is on you. This is how a Royal-looking, custom-made queen dress should look like. I confess that when I examined McQueen’s last collection, which he had finished designing just few days before his tragic death, tears welled up in my eyes. Such a genius is sorely missed.

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Haider Ackermann spring-summer 2011

If you are this type of person, who wants to show some skin to the world, then please, please, please – don’t take a Kardashian-esque Balmain dress. Go for this fabulous, yellow Haider Ackermann dress with a leg-exposing cut. I know, it looks too good to be true. But it’s even more than Insta-perfect.

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Rosie Assoulin resort 2015

And of course, I cannot not take under consideration Rosie Assoulin’s bold dresses and skirts. These nutritious and fresh-like-an-orange looks from her resort 2015 look-book are flawless, and in a very #IWokeUpLikeThis manner. Not that I am the biggest fan of Beyonce – but I think the word and the hashtag of 2015 fit Rosie’s eveningwear style… on point.

So, obviously you already have a clear vision of your New Year eve outfit, don’t you?

Document – Dior

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Sinister and highly fashionable Halloween inspirations by Olivier and Willy for Document Journal. Note, that everything in this editorial is from the last haute couture collection by Raf Simons for Dior.

Publication: Document Journal Fall/Winter 2015
  Model: Greta Varlese, Julia Nobis, Mica Arganaraz, Rianne van Rompaey 
Photographer: Willy Vanderperre
 Fashion Editor: Olivier Rizzo

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Raf Simons Departures Dior

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When this information hit us all yesterday in the evening, there was a “what has just happened” moment. Raf Simons, both spontaneously and officially, said good-bye to Dior, the Parisian mega-house. Simons has revitalised and modernised the brand throughout the three-year tenure, after John Galliano was fired due to his public, anti-semitic affair. The reason of this sudden change is not that surprising, though – Raf Simons leads his own, eponymous label for men and he has always called his journey at Dior as a “temporary, but beautiful adventure, which really lets him discover the feminine part of fashion“. Observing Simons since his first, haute couture collection in 2012, it was clear from the very first moment that the brand will go through a major refreshment – minimal silhouettes, simple forms and mind-blowing, floral show settings accompanied Raf from the beginning. I can’t say that I am super sad about Raf leaving the brand – I must admit, that some of the collections felt monotonous and exhausting (just like his last, spring-summer 2016 show which was presented three weeks ago). However, up to now I am impressed with his Monaco-based resort 2016, historically influenced autumn-winter 2015 couture and abstract spring-summer 2013 – all of them seem to look far into the future of woman’s wardrobe. Certainly, the time spent by Raf Simons at Dior ultimately defined those three years of fashion – “conceptual design” and “futuristic femininity” fit this period well.

The thing is, the new designer of Dior will be named soon – and I hope, that LVMH won’t elect a designer, who will simply not match the codes of Dior. There are some rumours, that the luxury concern can give Alexander Wang a fair chance to take this place – but please, remind yourself the hard times that Wang spent at Balenciaga – his fashion bored everyone and depressed the owners of the brands due to low ready-to-wear incomes. So guys, leave Wang alone. Also, there are high chances for Phoebe Philo and Riccardo Tisci (her contract will soon end at Celine, while his at Givenchy). I see Philo at Dior, but she matches Celine so perfectly… and Tisci will make Dior a 500-euro-t-shirt brand. Personally, I would give a chance to somebody totally unknown – like Gucci did with Alessandro Michele. Sometimes, the most unexpected choice gives the best results. And coming back to Simons, I am happy for him and his decision – I wish him even more successes in expanding his own, eccentric brand!

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Belgian designer Raf Simons appears at the end of his Haute Couture Spring Summer 2015 fashion show for French fashion house Christian Dior in Paris January 26, 2015.      REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Raf Simons, the conceptual, Belgian fashion designer.