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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Couture – Giles, Maison Margiela, Valentino AW16

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Giles – If you think of Giles Deacon and his fashion, first thing on your mind is his “fire burnt” gown or Kristen McMenamy in a white dress with extremely big shoulders – in other words, his most fantastic and surreal creations, which are on haute couture level. This season, forget about Giles’ ready-to-wear, as the designer decided not to show during the last London Fashion Week. Instead, he went to Paris for couture week to prove that he’s incredibly good in his love for “big, special pieces for the show“. Because, why not? Life’s too short to do something that bores us.

For his first couture collection, Deacon went eclectic, allowing his imagination take over the control. Voluminous ball dress in hand-painted, palm leaves print; purple mini-dress covered with three-dimensional petals; yellow, jacquard cape-like gown with embellishments. Should I list more? Oh, yes – the stand-out piece, so a regal velvet neckpiece in an Elizabethan style, which is of course detachable. As the queen wearing Giles wishes. There’s also the imperial ‘Faberge’ print gown, all covered in a variety of egg illustrations. Yum. That’s a wardrobe for a modern-day monarch – it’s not over-the-top kitsch, but adequately fancy. It’s visible that Deacon loves seeing his biggest love – couture – become a reality!

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Maison Margiela – I’m again on fence with John Galliano. To me, everything he does at Maison Margiela is haphazard, without any order. It’s not ecleticism. It’s a play with random textiles and textures. But this doesn’t mean that John’s chaos doesn’t have its own appeal – it does, intimately. Wherever you look, autumn-winter 2016 collection focuses on the tiniest detail. The bright yellow, ‘artisanal’ cocoon coat was worn with an embroidered drape at the back, while the dramatic veil on models’ head reminded me of a perfect day-with-the-bees option. There was an adventurous, bared-shoulder dress; a plastic construction layered on a red mini-dress; a show-stopping muslin gown with a red lace boy embroidered on. The attitude of the collection was quite revolutionary, and as the show-notes suggested, French revolution period is the main reference. Anna Cleveland, who wore a Napoleon-esque hat, looked like she was ready for the fight. Still, I doubt wellies and a tweed skirt with feather applications are best choice for a “military” gear.

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Valentino – You surely know that this Valentino show is the last one designed by the duo of Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri. At least, only one half of this pair stays; the latter, Maria Grazia, leaves for Dior. Which is quite unexpected, noting all these great collections (even if there were some ups and downs) and even greater couture presentations they did together. But on the contrary, Dior is really in a need for a designer with a strong vision after Raf Simons’ depature. Chiuri’s feminine point of view will surely match the ‘new look’, while her dresses are going to boost the sales (a new designer is always a gust of fresh air for a brand with heritage). Moreover, with her big step forward, she’s making history – she will become the first female creative director of Christian Dior’s maison.

Time will show what’s coming for Maria – for now, never mind,  let’s take a look at Valentino’s latest outing. An old chapter should be ended with a bit of drama, and this Elizabethan wardrobe of puffed sleeves and clerical robes matches the slightly melancholic mood. The collection was presented on the occasion the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, so no wonder why there was a lot of Renaissance Italy feel in these theatrical clothes, origining from Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice. Richly embroidered and oozing with romance (as hot red as the closing, aristocratic gowns), the designer duo proved once again that they are (or rather were) the masters of elegance. However, ignoring the fact it’s the last collection designed with help of Maria Grazia, I guess it would be simply considered as another beautiful, enchanting, and so on… Valentino couture. I confess – I hoped for something more.

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Old Hollywood. Maison Margiela AW16

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John Galliano feels like at home at Maison Margiela, and that’s visible – his collections start to look-alike. The textiles are chaotically layered up, the circus opulence from the Dior era is present, and Margiela’s codes seem to sink in this musty trunk of an Old Hollywood star. I’m not saying that Galliano is burnt out – but I perceive his presence at Margiela as appalling. The aristocratic capes, exhausted pussy-bow shirts made from a fluorescent, green mesh and college jackets seem to look so pretentious and, sadly, outdated. Others say that Galliano’ collections for Margiela are innovative – but I constantly see dusty clothes that look as if they escaped out of a granny-wardrobe, filled with souvenirs from her 20s.

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HC – Chanel, Bouchra Jarrar & Margiela SS16

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Chanel

Karl Lagerfeld presented a utopian vision of his ecological world – a wooden, sauna-like pavilion was built inside Grand Palais, and the catwalk was cultivated with grass. The collection was indeed all about organic textiles. The geometric lace gown, which was worn as a wedding dress by Mica Arganaraz, is actually embroidered with such materials as wood shavings, breads, rhinestones and chiffon. Moreover, it’s entirely “made from wild cotton” and as the designer said “this is high-fashion ecology. It must not look like some sloppy demonstration!” To make it even more sustainable, all the wedges were made of cork, while the signature Coco Chanel bouclé jackets had the illusion of a bark texture. But let’s not fool ourselves – this collection is a bit like the politically labeled SS15 ready-to-wear outing, where the models pretended to demonstrate women’s rights with their Chanel banners and 3000 euros bags. In case of this couture collection, the significant topic of ecology feels like a one-season, shallow trend. Last season Lagerfeld was over the top with neoprene, a textile which can’t be obtained in any possible, biodegradable nor organic way. So doing an eco collection feels like an idea which came out of the blue.

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Bouchra Jarrar

The French designer, Bouchra Jarrar, reinteprets couture each season, making it look effortless (and usually too ready-to-war). But whatever they say, her elegant and calm collections ooze with Parisian chic. For spring-summer 2016, Jarrar focued on the pants, which are surely the most sleek and well-tailored of all. The coats with fur collars make me drool up to now, while the delicate velvet dresses in ecru are all about the toned, couture details.

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Maison Margiela

“Is haute couture falling apart? No, it’s just Maison Margiela by John Galliano”. I agree with you, Suzy Menkes. Margiela under Galliano‘s wings starts to look like a low-budget sham of luxurious textiles which are waisted on an “artisanal” drama. The recent collection is a mess and it’s not an art expression. Martin Margiela was known for his signature clothes deconstruction and the “out of the studio” effect, where everything felt raw and unfinished. But in John’s hands, it all looks like a “fashion” junk.

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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!

Dior spring-summer 1998 couture

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?