Characters. Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood AW18

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Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood was a parade of characters: from Joan of Arc to haunted brides (and widows), that was a diverse outing. Vivienne and her partner,  Andreas, enjoy studying the different and break any kind of stereotypes. Here, boys wore ball dresses, while girls nailed over-sized pirate jackets. Nearly everything would have been superb about this collection if not the fact that the label stole an idea, or two, from London’s emerging, young designers. Even though they have publicly apologized Rottingdean Bazaar and Louise Gray for using their prints and slogans without permission, I just can’t understand how the designers’ studio thought no one would notice that in the first place? I mean, if not Vivienne, many of those brands wouldn’t be here with their explosive attitude today. And now, who’s appropriating whom?

Still, the collection is a bomb.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Christmas like Dame Westwood

Vivienne Westwood Fashion Show, Paris, France - 1993

Autumn-winter 1993 / Falling, falling like snow.

Christmas morning and it feels like browsing old fashion collections for hours. Vivienne Westwood‘s 90s shows surprisingly (or rather not) feel extremely festive – literally, wish you look like Kate or Naomi, all dressed up in Dame Viv’s crotchet, platform shoes and layers of fur. An alternative, Christmas-themed break-down of Westwood’s style codes – you’re welcome.

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Autumn-winter 1995 / When the fireplace is not enough and you drown in your aunt’s felt blankets.

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Autumn-winter 1993 / Making an entrance like an eff-ing dame.

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Autumn-winter 1995 / I’m cool with wearing my grandma’s knit thingie. once. a. year.

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Autumn-winter 1995 / ‘So, who was good enough this year to receive a fetch scarf that will match your fancy beanie I gave you the last year?’

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Autumn-winter 1993 – Keeping it classy. I don’t care about Christmas mood, nah.

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Autumn-winter 1993 / Baby it’s cold outside, you know.

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Autumn-winter 1993 / Another blanket outfit worth investigating.

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Autumn-winter 1995 / Alternative Santa look, darling!

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Autumn-winter 1995 / The one who got far too many presents.

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Autumn-winter 1993 / Bad, bad girl look.

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Autumn-winter 1994 / When you realise a human impersonator of Jingle-Bell exists.

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Autumn-winter 1994 / Wrapping gifts queen.

More of these brilliant fur looks.

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Autumn-winter 1995 / Pre-family dinner, hears something mean ’bout her appearance. Thinks of something savage, shady, yet refined to say during the actual dinner.

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Autumn-winter 1995 / ‘Christmas is the perfect occasion to show off’. Hot tip – don’t throw away the present-package ribbons. Reuse!

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Autumn-winter 1993 / I’m out of here.

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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Europe. Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood SS17

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Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood is a love affair between those two designers both in fashion, and in life. It’s the second season where Andreas fully leads the main-line of Westwood’s punk-empire, and it’s madly good. Inspired with European cultures, Kronthaler took a glance at Slavic symbolism, and sent out a model wearing a voluminous, straw garment which might be a dress (or a coat). Heavily ornamented bustier necklines were exaggerated, too, but this time the direction turned to Marie Antoinette times and pre-revolution France. The model in a drifty, multi-coloured frame was an abstract vision of a woman at a typically Dutch market stall. It perceivable that the creative director is intrigued with Old Europe’s contrasts and history – he cleverly delivered those accents in a humorous, very dramatic way. But the collection isn’t only about the past. It smartly moves the topic of feminism (and femininity), so something that still triggers so many intense discussions in few European countries. A jersey dress with trompe l’oeil illustration of naked body, or a violently ripped skirt which exposed spring-summer 2017 swimwear were the most thoughtful, yet catchy looks.

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Anglomania. Gucci Resort’17

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Just a few weeks before Britain’s choice whether to remain in European Union, London has suddenly become the capital of resort 2017 collections. Firstly, Dior showed its mild collection in Blenheim Palace; secondly, Alessandro Michele, the creative director of Gucci, proved that Italian fashion goes in pair with anglomania. Covered with dark-green, needlepoint cushions, the famous Westminster Abbey was transformed into a venue for the most eccentric Michele’s show up to date (note: every show by Gucci gets even more peculiar and twisted…). Gucci girls and Gucci boys went down the Gothic church, all bold and playful, reivisiting cult fashion tribes of London. From Camden Market loving geeks to Rolling Stones fanatics in slim denim trousers and t-shirts (with old-school GUCCI logos – next season’s must-have), Alessandro praised Britain’s biggest style eras in this extremely non-chalant outing.

To dive in this gothic sea of inspiration!” he began. “The punk, the Victorian, the eccentric—with this inspiration, I can work all my life!” The former, origing from Vivienne Westwood’s rebellious times of SEX boutique and Sex Pistols costumes, was reflected in tartan ball gown and badass, yet classy attitude of the clothes. One of the jackets was a perfect Victoriana sleeve sample, but all in baby-pink astrakhan fur; Thatcher-era Kensington grannies crossed the abbey during the show, wearing printed silk dresses and foulards on their heads; there was even a Spice Girl moment which will be remembered for long in the industry – rainbow striped platform sneakers HAPPENED, spicing it all up. It’s not a surprise that Alessandro thought of Scottish kilts, too – they were worn casually with lady-like, blue pea-coats. Chic, right?

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Looking at this collection, you might be confused with all that opulence of topics, and even doubt whether this is still about so-called “good taste”. But Alessandro Michele, who made the ready-to-wear sales spike in this 95-year-old Italian brand, blurs the term. In fact, these outfits remind me of great, vintage-selling Instagram shops, which are loved for the extraordinary styling. Let me recommend you @the_corner_store – check it out by the way. .

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Back to Gucci. While writing this, I’m listening to Siouxsie & The Banshees “Face to Face”, and I’m authentically feeling the mood conveyed by Michele. It’s rock’n’roll, slightly alternative, very theatrical – breaking the rules and even the system. Of course it’s not as radical as Westwood and McLaren – but it’s a leap away from all this safe minimalism which is trending for the last few years. And if I mention that I’m watching the second episode of 80s favourite comedy show, Absolutely Fabulous, starring Eddy and Patsy, you can imagine the affair I feel with this collection. Glam, over-the-top effect and never-mature clubbing lifestyle. I love it! Although Alessandro is an Italian, who loves embroideries and lace, he’s also an anglomaniac, obsessed with unconventional youth and aristocracy-meets-punk thing England is famous of. “You are part of the culture of Europe!” exclaimed the designer backstage, showing his love for British art, fashion and music side. I’m quite sure that if all the Brits take a peek at this collection, they will be sure about their vote during the referendum coming this month.

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