Oomphy Glam. Ashish AW22

For 20 years Ashish Gupta has created joyously ironic garments that are highly compatible with pleasure. And by developing his pieces in sequins via Indian handcraft rather than pixels via code, these garments command real-life attention on multiple levels. For autumn-winter 2022, Ashish is offering what appears to be uncomplicatedly oomphy womenswear. Halston-reminiscent bias cut slip and halter dresses, the Edith Head–evocative goddess gown shot by the fireplace, and the vaguely-Valentino ruffle mini are as exacting to craft as they are apparently enchanting to wear. Sprinkled around these conventionally glamorous shapes worn unconventionally were denim, separates, and swimwear, plus a powerful fringe bomber jacket that lent this collection enough versatility be worn anywhere from evening reception to all-night rave. With Ashish, the real decoding lies in the pattern. This season he went back to one of his most enduring inspirations, the intersection of modes of dress he observed on the street in Delhi before he set off for London and Central Saint Martins. “In winter you will see Indian ladies in their silk saris, and then putting over a little Fair Isle cardigan – saris meet Scotland.” This became the launchpad for a seasonal in-sequin-remix of ikats, stripes, argyles, and houndstooth (some cherry-strewn) that spoke directly to the spirit of cross-cultural relish that is central to Ashish. That fireplace dress was cut to evoke the sari as much as it was to conjure mid-century glamour. A sequin cricket jumper spoke of another shared language, and a Chanel-template jacket and mini dress were emphatically anti-monochromatic. While Ashish talked about these elements “clashing together,” that clashing was anything but antagonistic; instead it proved the source for some sparklingly fresh and fun fashion harmonies.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

NET-A-PORTER Limited

Reworked Glamour. Y/Project AW19

Similarly to this season’s Paco Rabanne, Y/Project was ‘overfilled’ – but in a good way (even if this sounds strange). Glenn Martens took the old school glamour archetypes, reworked them, and delivered something pretty much madly fashion. He jumped from a superchic tweed coat with faux fur and Turkish rug inserts to a long black satin skirt draped up from a pair of deconstructed pants. A pistacchio kimono coat-dress? Yes. A voluminous jacket with an A-shaped skirt that reminded you of weaved chairs that are all over the Parisian caffes? YES. The closing, XXL gown was so extravagantly billowy that you really wish to see it on the red carpet (Rihanna, take a look!). Martens likes to take risks. Also, he seems to be one of the few designers in Paris who really dare.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Glam is Not Dead! Marc Jacobs SS18

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Glam isn’t dead! And nothing proves that better than Marc Jacobs‘ enchanting spring-summer 2018 collection, the delicious finale of New York fashion week. It was, as Alexander Fury ecstatically wrote on Instagram, stupendous, stupefyingly brilliant, the Yves Saint Laurent haute couture at the gym moment, so up meets down. This can’t be stated in any other way. That was a fabulous explosion of colour, embroidery, prints. And, it was presented with unbelievable modesty – no venue decorations, no music. Just the clothes, the most diverse cast of models, and Jacobs’ affection for fashion. From voluminous coats to evening gowns, from wrapped turbans to fluffy sandals, from mega polka-dots to childish daisies – it’s a rhapsody. If the rumour has it that Marc Jacobs is thinking of leaving his company – and I can’t believe what would Marc Jacobs be without Marc – then he’s really showing a middle finger to corpo-stats of ‘what sells, what doesn’t’ with that collection.

P.s. Days before New York fashion week, I was wondering what will the main subject – fashion – be like among the local designers. Will the political climate have the same, dark effect as last season? With bold collections from such names as Tom Ford, Calvin Klein and Marc, of course, New York’s fashion scene bares it all and says ‘you won’t break us’. Fashion is a happy place, after all, and lets just lose ourselves to it.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Stretchy Desires. Balenciaga SS17

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Honestly, Balenciaga‘s spring-summer 2017 collection has been the most anticipated show of the entire Paris Fashion Week. First, it’s the second collection designed by Demna Gvasalia, the guy you already know from Vetements. Second, every editor was dying to see what direction will Demna take for the house. The debut collection ranked up high with its puffa jackets and appealing corporate dress-code, but you need the second try to understand a creative director’s vision.

Spoiler: the newest collection confirms that Gvasalia was created for his job at Balenciaga.

When Cristobal Balenciaga founded his house, the brand was focused on haute couture. In the most unobvious ways, Demna revives Balenciaga’s couture elements since his first season, reinterpreting the brand’s archives and writing a new chapter. For spring, the Georgian designer explores the intimate relationship between couture and fetishism – two unlikely things that in fact are closely related to each other. Obsessive interest in achieving a result of absolute beauty, which goes in pair with wearing couture, is dangerously connected to a nearly sexual pleasure. When Cristobal’s maison was at its peak, a synthetic, stretchy fabric appeared in 1958 – spandex. Of course, Balenciaga’s aesthetic didn’t match with such nonchalance of spandex at those times. But in 2016, Demna feels a strong connection between ‘kinkiness’ of spandex, and haute couture’s  endless desire of looking perfect.

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Just like couture, spandex isn’t easy. But this didn’t stop Demna and his studio to send out a line of models wearing spandex in the brightest colours and the most eye-catchy, floral prints. The stilettos (which transformed into leggings-like pants) were jaw-dropping. He kept them in purple, orange, pink and even white in order to nail it to the fullest. The semi-shoes, semi-pants looked eerily sexy and glamorous, to a surprise. Gvasalia’s thing for fetish didn’t end here: latex capes, extremely sleek silhouettes and patent leather were the show’s highlights, too.

Gvasalia’s troubled youth in Georgia affected his future mind. When he was young, he was starving for the new; now, he can easily convey those childhood cravings into a multifaceted collection for a very grown-up house. Striped market totes resembled the bags from bazaars, which stored fake Adidas and Levis, so well-remembered to the generation of the post-Iron Curtain. Ornamental brooches made me think of cheesy souvenirs which are easily available in the nearest Euro-shop. The nails with zircons had a lot to do with the 2000s Paris Hilton over-the-top style. And then, the music that still hides in the depths of your grandpa’s Nokia: Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” and Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game“. The final effect? Demna left the guests panting and drooling over his jackets with shoulder pads, granny dresses and trench-parkas. Buying all of that.

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Lil’Kim Approved. Area SS17

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For spring-summer 2017, Beckett Fogg and Piotrek Panszczyk of Area searched deep for inspiration in their favourite issues of Vogue, coming from the 1960s and 2000s. Both of these major fashion eras are alive in the new season clothing, full of shiny rhinestones and feminine tulle. At Area, there’s often a stark contrast between what’s “good taste” and what’s kitsch – but in the end, the collections always ooze with glamour. Ahh, the I-used-to-be-cool Lucite accessories flecked with suspended glitter. Big, big rings, hoop earrings, and chopsticks for hair (which, by the way, would be a perfect fit for Samantha Jones). And I nearly forgot about those sunglasses! I mean, they revive every single thing, from Spice Girls to Bubble from Absolutely Fabulous. The look-book, photographed by Charlotte Wales, is full of fluorescent, gleaming flares and ruffled tops. One of the dresses, made of a croc-skin imitating fabric, is strangely sexy with all those cuts and bows. Then, suddenly, we’ve got the Dalmatian print all over the pants. Fun. Who else would have slayed Area’s newest creations? My vote is for Lil’ Kim (of course the old, good 2003 version of her)!

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