Celestial. Valentino AW17 Couture

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Whenever a priest wearing a soutane crosses the street, you can’t help but look at the way his garment flows and shapes in motion. Pierpaolo Piccioli, the creative director of Valentino, had a vision for his couture collection: to grasp the sense of holiness and striking simplicity behind canonical robes he observes everyday on the streets of Rome, and convey it in the most haute way. Floor-sweeping capes had a ceremonial aura about them, just like sharply cut coats. If you think ‘Vatican’, you think ‘ornamental’ – Piccioli’s take on sacred is a lot more modern, but equally celestial.

Valentino’s collection might be the couture season’s most intriguing line-up, and if you’re still not convinced, note the one-of-a-kind metal bags with enamel mosaic details made by Harumi Klossowska De Rola especially for this occasion. Each of the bags’ shape reassembles an animal’s head – put together, they symbolize the seven deadly sins. How ironic, thinking about the sources of fortunes of some of Valentino’s richest clients…

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Sudetes: Sacred

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In the second part of my Sudeten journal, I’m happy to share with you the moments I’ve captured around the local churches. I was mesmerised by the sacred aura, which oozed in every corner of Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Krzeszów. Those magical arches, all the meticolously carved details and most of all, the mind-blowing baroque ceiling painting… incredible. Just like all the smaller, remote churches, which are scattered around the fields and forests (however, most of them are unfortunately closed).

In the Sudetes, it’s a common thing to see pastel-coloured bee-hives. While I was walking around them and taking photos of blooming cherry-blossom trees, I noticed a little Easter palm next to the wooden hut. So colourful and carefully kept by the owner – it will surely serve during the next year’s spring rituals.

If you’ve missed the first part of the journal, check it out here. The last part coming soon!

Amen! From Communion Dress to Sexy Lace.

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Who isn’t obsessed with Paolo Sorrentino’s ground-breaking drama series, The Young Pope? I’m on the fifth episode, and I can’t stop watching. And it appears that the fashion industry is into it, too – it’s quite visible on Instagram feed of Massimo Giorgetti. When HBO airs the new episodes, be sure to see his favourite stills. It’s impossible not to praise Jude Law for the role of frustrated-with-life pope, whose cynical attitude plays on nerves of old cardinals. He smokes cigarettes in Vatican’s holiest chambers, badass. And has those psychedelic visions and dreams… Also, what the pope wears each time catches my eye specifically – the most intricately embroidered mitres, traditional silk choir dresses and fancy papal shoes, kept in red velvet. Amen.

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Fashion has never been far from the topic of religion, and we can frequently observe how designers play with various stereotypes. Lately, Catholicism is having a ‘moment’, if you can say so, spanning from Stefano Pilati‘s 2010 outing at Saint Laurent to Miuccia Prada‘s constant love for uniforms – specifically, the “nun look” is her favourite to experiment with. What comes with the feeling of sacrality in fashion is a certain type of refined elegance. As Prada put it in the latest issue of System Magazine, “for me, lace is only beautiful if it’s black, and funeral, and super chic. Or white, for a baptism”. And that’s obvious, if you look at her autumn-winter 2008 collection, which entirely focuses on usage of, somewhat, seductive lace. There’s no wonder why a lace dress seems to be both, very Sunday-at-church, but at the same time a romantic essential of every wardrobe. Italian women, like the ones you can spot in Siena or Palermo, know that, just as their grandmas did.

A similar look… Dolce & Gabbana lace topJonathan Simkhai lace skirtPrada tote and icon Gianvito Rossi suede pumps.

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Saint Laurent by Stefano Pilati intepreatation of a modern-day nun-woman.

Meanwhile, Simone Rocha staged her spring-summer 2017 show in Southwark Cathedral, where the models walked down the gothic aisle. The venue matched the charming sublimity of Rocha’s latest line of delicate textures and girlie silhouettes, and it smoothly worked with the collection’s British accents. While working on the collection, the designer took a glance at baptismal gowns and communion dresses, reworking them in authentic broderie anglaise lace. But don’t expect to see a traditional wedding dress here. Simone Rocha’s fascination with perversion oozes in those not-so-bride-ready gowns. Although we’re talking about sacred and holy, the designer’s pieces are far from innocent. Sheer organza sheath with elongated sleeves shyly exposed nipples, while a tulle skirt with embroidered flowers showed some leg… accidentally. Note the models’ patent wellies and synthetic-white, rubber gloves. Red lips and wet hair. Rocha’s Catholic girls coming from good village families are naughty. In a very elusive, gentle way.

A similar look… Valentino lace midi-dressBalenciaga ankle boots and Manu Atelier bag

In the 90s, the prince of minimalism – Helmut Lang – expectantly presented a look that shocked his biggest followers. A shoulder-exposing black knitted dress would become Lang’s typical classic. But the big, heart necklace (à la Madonna’s Like a prayer) was a statement. Worn like a big cross, that was the moment when Helmut questioned his signature minimalism with use of ornaments. And all types of opulent decorations are close to Vatican’s richness, and the Pope’s collection of heavily embellished signet rings. Alessandro Michele, another Italian who gets Italian women best, isn’t scared to pull off a number of rich rings, necklaces and bracelet at a time. For the last few seasons, Gucci is loved for its jewellery, which defines the term ‘neo-kitsch’.

A similar look… Gucci Swarovski crystal hands earringsGucci pearl ring and Dannijo silver-plated necklaceicon

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Demna Gvasalia’s take on Balenciaga is profound, taking under consideration all aspects that were important for Cristobal Balenciaga. For women’s autumn, the creative director delivered flamenco dresses in florals, mentioning Balenciaga’s Spanish origins. This instantly brings on the idea of Catholicism, which was moved this season for the boys. Cristobal was a passionate Catholic, and it was his everyday habit to go to a church on Avenue George V, a stone throw from his atelier. That’s why the last looks were ornamented with Vatican lace, liturgical red and purple silks. As for a menswear debut, Gvasalia nailed it, even though one could be skeptical whether the up-to-now male clients of Balenciaga, used to basic white shirts and sneakers, will devote themselves to this new style religion.

Of course, I can’t forget about high fashion habits, re-invented by such visionaries like Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood or Nicolas Ghesquiere (when he was still at Balenciaga). In case of the latter, the headpieces became must-have beach hats of that season.

A similar look… Eres + Maison Michel rabbit-felt and lace brim hat

Hallelujah.

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Men’s – Pope and Cristobal. Balenciaga SS17

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Demna Gvasalia‘s appointment at Balenciaga is groundbreaking from the very first collection for women’s autumn-winter 2016, which we all experienced at the beginning of March. New silhouettes, new youthful concept, the underground, Vetements attitude already storms the editorials and modifies the way we see fashion in 2016 – but nobody expected that the biggest shock would have come within Gvasalia’s first men’s collection for the house.

Firstly, it’s not just another menswear collection. It’s the first runway collection by Balenciaga which presents menswear; secondly, it was a tribute to Cristobal Balenciaga, his life and his creative legacy. In his first months at the brand, Demna was a tourist in Balenciaga historical archives, and one specific piece became the main reference for the entire, spring-summer 2017 collection. A coat. Or rather, the coat, which was Cristobal’s own, made by his own hand. In fact, he never finished it. And surely, he would be surprised to hear that after many decades, his Georgian successor is about to make his forgotten coat an object of desire. The first look defined the silhouette of this particular coat – tailored, yet strongly exaggerated in the shoulders. And a fitting card put in breast pocket (an unexpected, small gesture which nodded to the past of bespoke, couture tailoring for men). A fitting card used to hold the information of old clients’ measurements – and dimension is something that’s absolutely revisited by Gvasalia. While the coats were colossal in volume, extremely slim suit pants were cut on the knee, distorting any proportions left. The look got even more peculiar with python leather shoes or orthopaedic white boots. That was the “formal” part of the collection, if you can say that Uncle Fester’s look will fit your business lunch.

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The mid-looks of the collection were more about Vetements, I would say, with varsity jackets (of course, the shoulder were big, too) and baseball caps. The over-sized pants were styled with ribbed knits, and one of the all-black outfits felt like Gvasalia’s friends (Lotta Volkova and Paul Hameline) choice for a stroll to the market, with a huge, bold yellow “shopping” tote. Parisian cool with post-Soviet vibe. Yes.

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Demna Gvasalia’s take on Balenciaga is profound, taking under consideration all aspects that were important for Cristobal. For women’s autumn, the creative director delivered flamenco dresses in florals, mentioning Balenciaga’s Spanish origins. This instantly brings on the idea of Catholicism, which was moved this season for the boys. Cristobal was a passionate Catholic, and it was his everyday habit to go to a church on Avenue George V, a stone throw from his atelier. That’s why the last looks were ornamented with Vatican lace, liturgical red and purple silks. As for a menswear debut, Gvasalia nailed it, even though one could be skeptical whether the up-to-now male clients of Balenciaga, used to basic white shirts and sneakers, will devote themselves to this new style religion.

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Men’s – Christ Couture. Givenchy SS16

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Riccardo Tisci‘s latest idea for Givenchy seems to be deeply rooted in his best-selling collections from the past. As most thought he ended his exhausting journey with digital prints and t-shirts, now we know he came back on the easy ride. And again, just like few seasons ago, it is all about religion and Jesus. Jesus everywhere, on men-skirts to sweatshirts. Definitely. these will sell like hot buns… but also, this collection had its another side – Riccardo strongly based his inspirations on America and different denims shades of denim, giving everybody a clue, that True Religion might have been on one of the mood-boards: slim-fit jeans with star print worn shirtless with a cross.

However, the menswear part was shamelessly dimmed by the sudden Haute Couture collection for women. When I firstly saw Maria Carla Boscono wearing a bandeau on her head and a long chain of crucifix around her neck, I instantly thought of JLo and her famous “Ain’t it Funny” era. Then the dresses… a kind of gypsy-esque boheme which got crashed by #GivenchyGang (the models in black suites were holding jailer’s key dangling to look like Italian criminals from movies). Men’s SS16 and women’s Haute Couture had its borders between spirituality and “boys-and-girls-doing-bad-things” very blurred. Definitily this is what Riccardo Tisci wanted to demonstrate this season.

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