A New York Party. R13 AW17

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Here we’re again – at the New York Fashion week, the starting point of fashion month marathon. And who’s on the first shot? Chris Leba‘s rebellious R13. Launched in 2009, R13 was firstly associated with denim and apparel essentials like plaid shirts and tank-tops. Right now, it’s on the same sporty-grunge-cool shelf as Rag & Bone or Alexander Wang, reviving the 90s and sparking New York’s all-night party mood. Leba’s autumn-winter 2017 collection was nearly, but NEARLY, like one of those perfectly curated Tumblrs filled with nostalgic photos of Courtney Love, Kurt Cobain (the latter’s face was placed on one of the extra-big sweatshirts) and Kate Moss doing cocaine. But – thanks God – it didn’t fall into a cliché, which heavily hit last season’s designers. Although there were floral-print slip dresses and shearling jackets, R13 felt different, the attitude of these clothes was real. Tailored coats, over-sized chunky knits, semi-Victoriana collar shirts – this is precisely how a New York model scout or editor would dress today. From brilliant model cast (Lera Abova, Jamie Bochert, Julia Banas to name a few) to styling, Leba’s entry to the new season is a success.

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Distorted Grunge. Marques Almeida SS17

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There’s plenty of street-wise collections this season, but Pablo and Marta of Marques Almeida own this attitude since the beginnings of their London-based label. It’s real, and not just influenced by the current obsession with youth. The new collection was modelled by their friends / muses, and that might be the reason why these clothes seemed to be so relevant and natural. Leg-of-mutton sleeves were styled with brocade mini-dresses and sporty t-shirts, giving the impression of a thrift-shop-made look. The combination of denim high thigh boots, and a dress with ridiculously big collar distorted any proportions left, and the whole outfit was pretty peculiar – but that’s what Marques Almeida’s codes are all about. Pink hair, lace-trimmed tank-tops and striped panties instead of a skirt: is it the 2016 version of grunge?

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The New Revolutionaries

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Fashion is continuous in communicating on what’s happening in the world. Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren shaped the 70s punk scene in Great Britain, shaking up the aristocratic nation; Marc Jacobs took grunge into the world of high fashion at Perry Ellis in 1993. There was Raf Simons with studded, skinny pants for boys, and Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent years later, reviving Yves’ (in)famous scandale spirit. All of those designers wanted to show rebellion, and made history. This season, the mood of rebellion was present, too, but introduced in a different way. If you want to look defiant, leave your mud-splattered boots behind.

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Marc Jacobs and Lucie de la Falaise, Perry Ellis era

Take Rei Kawabuko and her autumn-winter 2016 collection at Comme des Garçons – it was an ode to the 18th century, but not in the way you might have expected. The silhouettes were voluminous, while the textures clashed with contrasts. Instead of embroideries and embellishments, opulence played a different role. “The 18th century was a time of change and revolution,” Rei said. “This is how I imagine punks would look, if they had lived in this century.” Think about French aristocracy, and just remind yourself some Marie Antoinette’s pouf hair-style or Louis XIV’s obsession with heels. Ball-dresses, splendour of colours – this is how the Incroyables originated, putting a barrier between them, and others. Their looks shouted “I’m in the elite – you’re NOT”. In fact that was a kind of punk gesture, if you look at that from another perspective. Paradoxically, Kawakubo wasn’t mistaken – punks, different punks, already existed before Dame Vivienne. Living in their saccharine wardrobes and eating cupcakes while the poor starved was to an extend… radical.

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Comme des Garcons AW16

Good times changed for aristocracy, and the French revolution proves that. John Galliano‘s spring-summer 1993 collection was a modern-day interpretation, of how a Merveilleuse (female equivalent for Incroyable) could have looked before execution. Of course with grace! A sheer  dress which looked nearly like a piece of underwear; her hair of fleek. Decapitation had to be chic, and Galliano’s spectacular collection filled with tattered frock coats, dilapidated chiffon, and extravagantly puff-sleeved gowns was a controversial success.

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All of the above: John Galliano SS93

But coming back to 2016. Marc Jacobs‘ latest outing was all about full skirts and big dresses in polished leather. Platforms were there. Those ladies were like the bad queens and bad princesses from a fantasy, while their outfits were loud nods to monarchy looks. For Maison Margiela, Galliano devoted his haute couture collection once again to the Incroyables, presenting coats with exaggerated tails. But this time, the one-of-a-kind pieces were mixed with high-tech textiles and hand-made chantilly lace. John explained his artisanal season as a reflection of today’s world troubles. “I didn’t want to repeat what I did as a kid,” said Galliano. “But it has the rebellious attitude of youth.” Lastly, Dries Van Noten was inspired with Marchesa Casati’s avant-garde aura. She was, you’ve guessed well, an unconventional aristocrat, with her smokey eyes, layers of pearl necklaces and exotic furs. She looked different that all the other fancy dames from those times – and that’s why Dries felt appeal to her. An embodiment of punk? Yes.

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Marc Jacobs AW16

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Dries Van Noten AW16

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Dries Van Noten AW16

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Above: Maison Margiela Haute Couture AW16

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Farewell, Hedi!

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After months of speculations, Kering has confirmed – Hedi Slimane is leaving Saint Laurent. Did Hedi realise that there is not enough place for him and Demna Gvasalia, the other designer who makes cheap-looking clothes with four digit price-tags? Let’s be clear – Slimane, during his three-and-a-half year tenure was the master of hypocrisy. Do you remember the autumn-winter 2013, when he presented mohair cardigans, studded boots and skimpy, leather dresses? Some said it was a modern-day nod to Yves Saint Laurent’s controversial Le Scandale collection. But some were more realistic, and not that optimistic – these clothes looked like grunge, but a la River Island circa 2010 rather than Kurt Cobain. Even though in the same year Courtney Love became the face of Saint Laurent. If talking of another odd things that happened during Slimane’s “era” – the tiaras from SS16. One costs, yes, 995 euros here. And it gets even more ironic, when you note that this is a prom-like, brass tiara embellished with rhinestone. Not with gems, silver or, huh, diamonds. I doubt it’s even Swarovski.

However, Hedi Slimane can be at least praised for the speed and desperation with which he had totally revamped the house. The interiors of the flagship stores, which used to be so boring with Stefano Pilati in charge, got the marble upgrade, while the advertisement campaigns – starring Kim Gordon, Joni Mittchel and lately, Jane Birkin – were always photographed by him, and had a cool, LA-rooted rock’n’roll spark. Also, it’s reported that the revenue of the brand increased in all categories, from accessories to clothes. People are buying Saint Laurent, so there is surely an undefined reason for Slimane’s success. But then, why did he leave? And will Anthony Vaccarello, whose aesthetic isn’t far from Hedi’s, get the point? Time will tell. But for now, let’s look back at the journey that Slimane took us to.

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