Beauty. Valentino Couture AW18

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“With ready-to-wear, your vision of beauty relates to the times you are living in,” Pierpaolo Piccioli stated after his brilliant, magnificent and remarkable haute couture collection for Valentino. Then, he concluded that “couture involves a deeper and more intimate perspective, to go further into your own vision of beauty.”

‘Beauty’ was definitely the keyword behind that line-up of gorgeousness – by that I mean everything, from Guido Palau’s major hair to the closing orange gown worn by Adut Akech (yes, it’s the same piece Beyoncé snatched to one of her On The Run II concerts, week later after the show took place. That’s quick). No wonder why Valentino Garavani, the man of the brand, was so moved and all in tears by the end of the show. Piccioli pulled of the opulent Italian style in a masterful way, like the founder of the maison did back in the past. Floor-sweeping kimono coats; over-sized shirts with equally XXL collars; skirts and jackets covered in bejewelled prints referring to Greek mythology; ruffled coats in signature Valentino red. The list seems to be endless, just like the number of pink feathers used for that ecstatically fantastic dress Kaia Gerber walked the runway in. But Pierpaolo is known for injecting contemporary elements of the wardrobe to the most exquisite collections of his. Some of the dresses were in fact cut like a t-shirt, while sheer silk blouses with embroideries looked unexpectedly casual with Bermuda shorts. Modernity also came to this collection through colours the designer chose. Of course there were all the rich emeralds and fuchsias. But the dirty shade of pastel pink, softness of pistachio and the depth of burgundy rescued the collection from visually being too over-the-top. The collection, the way it is, somewhere between the old glamour and present sense of style, is perfect.

With John Galliano’s Maison Margiela, I think the verdict is quite clear – we’ve got the ultimate winners of this season’s couture. Now, let me die knowing that I won’t put my hands on all that radzimir and taffeta…

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Nomadic Glamour. Maison Margiela Couture AW18

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Collections like this make you believe in fashion again. Maison Margiela‘s Artisanal line (read: haute couture) became an outlet for John Galliano‘s wildest ideas, which seems to let him explore his most dynamic ideas with the unlimited freedom. But when you listen to John speaking about the collection, you suddenly understand it’s not just a mega-artist’s next epic fantasy. There’s a seed of reality in those multi-layered garments packed with utilitarian textiles, protective pillow-y elements and extreme colours. “We’re all nomads today. . . we do move in tribes.” That nomadic glamour, the term he coined after the show, refers to the contemporary state of things. On the daily basis, we absorb so much information through different, constantly booming media. At the end of the day, we want comfort – but is it even possible in today’s world? Rather, we need shelter or an armour – which can be constructed from tulle, felt wool or some spong-y material, just as Galliano predicts. Even though we already exist in the hi-tech world, the vision of iPhones and iPads sticking out of our bodies like some kind of exoskeleton feels rather dystopian on the other note. But then, if the future will bring the humanity to “neo-digital natives”, as the designer says, then at least our wardrobes won’t disappoint with  boldness.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Georgia. Vetements SS19

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This was Demna Gvasalia‘s most personal Vetements collection up to date, and definitely, the one that had an extremely powerful meaning. Or rather meanings, since the number of messages the designer and the anonymous fashion collective sent out this season is far from being singular. If you’ve been obsessing over Gvasalia for a couple of seasons now, you surely know his background, the war-torn Georgia. It’s here where Demna and his brother Guram grew up together in the ’90s, and all the atrocities happened – specifically, in 1993, when the Gvasalia family had to flee their home in Sukhumi after the entrace of soldiers and bombing.

“I tried to face this angst and fear and pain in this show. I didn’t want to remember before, I didn’t want to go that far.” Something changed. With more than half of the models coming from Georgia, an extremely long wedding table set up under a bridge in Périphérique (an area in the outskirts of Paris, where migrants live in encampments along the highway) and music blasting, anything could happen in the middle of the haute couture week. But nobody expected that there will be war on the runway. From sweatshirts with the most vulgar Russian slogans (even though these words are quite very justified in case of the suffering Georgia went through) and lots of camo prints to masked men in leather gears and over-sized jackets covered in Georgian, Ukrainian, Turkish and USA flags (a nod to current nationalist tendencies across the world?), one sees lots of untamed aggression in this collection. Moreover, Demna commented on the current national affair in contemporary Georgia, connected to clubbing. One of the pieces had a phrase on, this time in Georgian, saying: “God Forgive Us.” The designer noted that “they’ve recently closed down clubs in Georgia. A line of priests came out to block the protest against it.” Injustice and repression of the youth, that continues to strangle the nation up to today, frustrates the designer. No wonder why. After all, it’s Gvasalia who has contributed to the revival of that reckless, ‘whatever’ attitude in the fashion industry since the first moments of Vetements’ existence.

But other than the history-heavy feelings, there were garments that respectfully nodded to Georgian heritage, like the fringed rug dress or the elegant, pleated bride (or widow) gowns. Still, everything had the stamp of melancholia, mourning. That wasn’t a typical Vetements collection that makes you want to go out for a major booze party. So, will the average Vetements customer, driven by the cult of sweatshirts, t-shirts and sneakers, get anything that’s deep about this intense collection? People don’t want to read long paragraphs about history, especially in the era of social media. Thankfully, the brand found a solution that will educate the eager ones. A Vetements app is about to be released, and it will teach the users on Georgia and such events like the “Ethnic Cleansing of Georgians in Abkhazia.” How promising is it to see that fashion is no longer just about clothes and revenue.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Chic. Sonia Rykiel Couture AW18

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Julie De Libran, who successfully leads Sonia Rykiel for the last couple of years under her creative direction, decided to enter a new field with the brand – just on time of its 50th anniversary. Opening a haute couture line felt quite unexpected, since the founder of the house never really ventured into such bourgeois echelons of fashion. However, to a surprise of many, the collection represented everything that Rykiel stood in the past, and stands for today: female independence; easiness; joie de vivre. At first, I found this collection as lacking edit. But when I looked at it again, I noticed all of its true grace. From that evening gown with black feather insert and a huge blue ribbon belt that Kristen Owen wore to Małgosia Bela’s fringed knitted vest-dress, those one-of-a-kind pieces looked frivolous and chic. Note that over-sized cardigan made of different yarns (styled with see-through dress) – gorgeous, isn’t it? The only point of the collection that could have been done differently was the closing look, bride look spefically, which was basically a Martin Margiela knock-off from 1991. Even though De Libran had good intentions – to convey the spirit of a liberated wedding look, with denim and feathers – it’s important to give credit where credit’s due.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.