Show Girl. Nina Ricci SS18


Honestly, I really can’t understand why other fashion critics heavily underrate or slam Guillaume Henry‘s work at Nina Ricci. I think what he does at the heritage French maison  looks extremely exquisite and at the same time isn’t too obvious. Even if we’re talking about a military-inspired jacket that had a moment at the Les Invalides fashion show. The collection started calmly: there was an ecru coat with extra-large shoulders styled with, yes, biker shorts. To a surprise of many, it ended with a vivid splash of radiant pink and eye-catching yellow. The most remarkable looks were all about feathers – from head-pieces to mini-dresses – and had something of a chic, Belle Époque inspired show girl. If all the world’s a stage, fashion must be a circus (note that even the runway was under a festive tent). As for me, just let Guillaume have a blast.


Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Boys in Paris. Proenza Schouler SS18

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Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough are the boys, who for years defined the contemporary chic of New York’s fashion scene. Hearing about their unexpected departure to Paris last season was quite a surprise. Everybody asked: what will New York fashion week be like without Proenza Schouler? Well, one thing’s sure – the Big Apple undoubtedly sobs that it didn’t witness one of the couples’ strongest and most beautiful collections.

But why Paris? And why so early for spring-summer 2018, while it will be presented by other labels in September? First, the brand decided to expand its recognition internationally, as Paris, not New York, is the place where all eyes look at. Second, the designers decided to dissolve the pre- and main-collection into one, consistent line-up, leaving more space (and time) for their intimate, creative process. Vetements done it, with success; Burberry has a similar business model; Rodarte, which presented its collection the same day in the French capital, takes the same risk this season.

But lets talk about the clothes, which in the end are the most important. As I’ve mentioned earlier, that was a truly impressive collection. Form low skirts and ready-for-everything blazers to statuesque ruffled dresses and stark red florals, Lazaro and Jack searched for a balance between arty edginess and comfortable elegance. Wait, we’re in Paris, just on time for haute couture shows – this explains the last looks, pimped up by the local petites mains. Looking like moving fluffy clouds from a distance, those were intricately inserted feathers on Sasha Pivovarova’s art gallery owner jacket or Mariacarla Boscono’s show-stopping evening dress à la Black Swan. Actually, each look is worth a paragraph. Also, please take a look at the low-heeled shoes with pointy-toes, kept in simple black or embellished with colourful beads. An instant need.

I think that a warm ‘bienvenue’ is the right term to greet Proenza Schouler at their new, European home!


Collage by Edward Kanarecki (backdrop: combination of different installations and artworks by Kate MccGwire).

Birds of Paradise


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.

Men’s – Poetry. Ann Demeulemeester AW17


When Ann Demeulemeester stepped down from the role at her namesake brand in 2013, I wondered – how difficult will it be for any successor to continue her legacy, yet not fall into biting the archives? Sébastien Meunier had his ups and falls since he became the creative director at Demeulemeester. But his men’s autumn-winter 2017 is unconditionally the best to date.

Perhaps it’s the season, where he found the balance between his personal creative language and Ann’s style codes. It was one of the most sensual and beautiful collections I have ever seen for men – pure poesy, where everything flows and works together, from the textures to the colours. From delicate white shirting with lace to all-black equivalents, Meunier re-invented, consciously or not, the way we perceive a poet: eccentric, romantic, on the boundary between ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’. Even the fur-lined parka jackets would dress a modern-day Edgar Allan Poe or William Blake. Eventually, it was Ann who said those words about both, poets and her favourite colour: “Black is not sad. Bright colors are what depresses me. They’re so… empty. Black is poetic. How do you imagine a poet? In a bright yellow jacket? Probably not.

In her work, Demeulemeester often used feathers and plume, whether in jewellery or vest-making. Meunier did nonchalant, big feather shawls and breath-taking hats, which looked so elegantly decadent that I’m just… speechless.


Feather Beauty. A.F. Vandevorst SS15


My favourite Belgian label, A.F. Vandevorst, has just shown a magical collection. Keeping it a bit military, the designer couple introduced beautiful silhouttes and fabric. An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx had come up with a story, about a female pilot flying around the world who parachutes into terra incognita and begins exploring. Which is to say, Vandevorst and Arickx were riffing on parachutes and flight suits, a theme sledgehammered home by the rather extraordinary opening gown of what looked like parachute silk, with a train nearly the length of the runway. The models wore non-chalant gowns, wrapped jackets, red suits, very “natural” head covers and feather embroideries. And these ones were reall amazing. A.F. Vandevorst decorated the whole gown with feathers, making it look couture. But the simple shape of it made it feel (and look) very comfortable. Amazing.