The Hollywood Glow. Rodarte SS23

For Rodarte‘s spring-summer 2023 collection, Kate and Laura Mulleavy harnessed the theatricality and glow of live performances into a lineup of dresses and sets that balance fluid shapes with busy prints and intricate, rich textures. Alongside rainbows of psychedelic swirls – which take shape across bias-cut chiffon slips – and velvet burnout silhouettes, you will find a range of high-shine threads and embellishments with a light-refracting quality that adds striking dimension. “We were really wanting to feel something that was really vibrant and alive and about lighting and connectivity,” said Laura. A sense of ease and lightness was achieved on an entirely hand knit purple gown with long sleeves and a contrasting orange trim on the hem and cuffs. The yarn was made from a material “that almost looks like saran wrap,” Kate concluded. “No one believes it will be, and that’s what’s so cool about it. It’s very shiny.” They used the same fabric to create little skirt suits worn with matching cropped tops; one in shades of green, and another in orange and pink. The concept of light – both in terms of weight and illumination – played an important role in the collection. Metallic details abounded in fabric construction and embellishments, bringing into play the light that surrounds the garment as an added accessory. “All of the materials are in some way reflective of light. Even the lace has a sheen on it,” one of the Mulleavy sisters said. “So what’s interesting is that you see them differently depending on the angle at which you are looking at them.” This were manifested in straightforward ways, as in some of the looks in the second half of the collection: holographic sequins on an architecturally draped asymmetric gown; silver sequins on a spaghetti strap tunic and flared trousers; silver fringe on a Nick Cave-esque (the fine artist, not the musician) long sleeve cropped top and matching trousers; and gowns with mosaics made from small mirror shards. “We’re starting to see the red carpets open back up again,” said Laura. “I feel like there’s no version of us as designers at Rodarte if there never was a red carpet. We’re in Los Angeles, and it’s one of the thrilling aspects of designing eveningwear. If you design a gown, you want to see it out there, that’s the beauty of it.” But the Mulleavys know that the magic of their clothes is that they can impart that same feeling to anyone that wears them, no matter the place.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Love Parade. Gucci SS22

Alessandro Michele‘s latest Gucci adventures are just beyond words. Going for extreme glamour after nearly two years of lockdown style is the best thing one can come up with for spring-summer 2022. But Michele pushed the envelope in festive dressing even further. Gucci’s name has long been linked with Hollywood, long before the upcoming “House of Gucci” film starring Lady Gaga, and its connection with the movies was everywhere you looked at Alessandro Michele’s fab fashion show. There, in the front row, was Gwyneth Paltrow, wearing an updated version of the Tom Ford-designed red velvet Gucci tux she sported circa 1996. And there, on the runway, were a dozen celebrity “friends of Gucci,” including Macaulay Culkin, Miranda July, Jodie Turner-Smith, Phoebe Bridgers and Jared Leto. The backdrop was the iconic Chinese Theater and Hollywood Boulevard itself – “that temple of the gods,” Michele called it. The designer credits his mother, a movie buff and an assistant in a production company, with encouraging his love of old Hollywood. But equally this collection was about contemporary Los Angeles, a place the designer first visited at the age of 27 and that he has much affection for. “LA is not a fashion city, but it’s so fashionable,” he said backstage before the show. “Sometimes they are not appropriate, but in being not appropriate they are so precise. Maybe it belongs to my way of looking at fashion – it’s personal.” When it was finally time to return to in-person shows after two seasons of the virtual experiences that lockdowns required, Los Angeles seemed the obvious choice. Seven years into his Gucci tenure, he’s presented in New York, Paris, Rome, and most often Milan, but Michele’s collections have never made more sense than this one did tonight on Hollywood Boulevard, with its neon lights and Walk of Stars. At the post-show press conference, Michele said he originally wanted to be a costume designer. He spent part of the day today at the freshly opened Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, where he admired a bow-covered Shirley Temple dress, among other pieces. On the topic of special occasion dresses, it’s fair to say he raised the bar for himself this season. With their cinematic sweep, if his gowns don’t make it to a museum, we’ll surely be seeing them soon on an awards show red carpet. With his hungry eye, he’s absorbed all manner of Hollywood tropes, and mixed in with the screen sirens were would-be stars fresh off the bus in calico dresses, with dreams as big as their 10-gallon cowboy hats. “My Hollywood is in the streets,” he said, and the sartorial-sporty mix of wide-lapeled jackets worn with brightly colored knit leggings and running sneakers did look lifted from real life, combining post-pandemic polish with the famous California ease. As for the sex-toy jewelry, and the erotic undercurrent of skintight latex and see-through lace, Michele reminded the press conference crowd that Gucci isn’t a “monarchy of bourgeois” like many of its heritage brand peers, but has its roots in the “jet-set, artists, and cinema.” As Madonna once sang, “you get it right now, cause you’re in Hollywood”…

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Lights, Camera, Action. Chanel SS21

I really start to appreciate Virginie Viard‘s vision for Chanel. The spring-summer 2021 Chanel show set, in Paris’s Grand Palais, spelled the brand’s name in giant letters, evoking the iconic Hollywood sign. Did this suggest that creative director Viard was thinking of the movies? “Less movies than actresses,” Viard explained, and particularly the modern life of actresses, from the high production values of the red carpet, to a staged off-duty look whilst getting a Starbucks in the certain knowledge that a paparazzo might be lurking in the parking lot, “the whole process!” Meanwhile, the accompanying movie teasers, produced by Inez and Vinoodh, literally brought Paris to Tinseltown, with the Sacre Coeur nestled proudly in those Hollywood Hills – symbolic of Viard’s marriage of Parisian cool with laid-back Los Angeles style. And of course, Coco Chanel’s love affair with film industry played its crucial role. Coco, who began her career as a performer singing saucy music hall songs, later made over a handful of actresses in her own image, just as she did with such beloved models in her in-house cabine as Marie-Hélène Arnaud and Jackie Rogers. The designer, for instance, transformed Romy Schneider into a baby-faced version of herself, and Luchino Visconti immortalized Schneider’s new look in his 1962 short movie Boccaccio 70. Chanel herself is even said to have found the new stage name for the Nouvelle Vague actress Anna Karina. Viard, who has all these references at her fingertips, is also drawn to femme fatale Jeanne Moreau in Louis Malle’s 1958 Elevator to the Gallows, and she looked to some on-screen Chanel moments in her collection. The show itself felt like a cinematic experience, and the clothes matched that elegant, yet unpretentious ambience. Viard had jumpsuits, flowing gowns and eternal tweeds as she was evoking the real life wardrobes of contemporary actresses using her own cabine of models, including many new French faces and the sophisticated Louise de Chevigny. All of them were encouraged to do their actressy best on the runway. The collection is quintessentially Chanel, nothing overly innovative – but absolutely consistent and reassuring with all its Chanel-isms. Maybe a bit less logos next time? That understated, relaxed, yet chic style Viard does so well, without all the forced decorations, clearly speaks for itself.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.