Tom Ford’s SS11 collection made some headlines when it premiered at New York Fashion Week back in September. But not because of the clothes. With his return from a serious hiatus from women’s wear, Ford made a statement against the over-saturation of a collection before its launch, and the immediacy with which fashion followers have become accustomed to satisfying their sartorial appetites. Instead of offering designs right off the runway, or allowing cameras backstage to simultaneously broadcast his comeback presentation across the globe, Ford kept his crowd small and his press coverage nearly obsolete (save for a few blurry camera phone photos captured by the New York Times‘ Cathy Horyn). But now, finally, the wait is over. Vogue‘s December issue is loaded with images of Ford’s glamorous SS11 collection, which evokes Halston during his heyday.
Hemlines grace just below the knee when they’re not touching the floor, while blazers and blouses leave little to the imagination thanks to their plunging necklines. And forget minimalism. Ford throws modesty out the window, opting for sequins, sumptuous leather, fringe, and leopard prints instead. It’s a bold look that only Ford could help return to fashion’s forefront. And while the ’70s silhouette has been gathering steam all Fall, thanks to its audaciousness, Ford’s rendition will feel decidedly fresh come Spring.
J. Crew held previews of both its men’s and women’s SS11 collections last night in NYC. And overall looks had a decidedly upbeat, cheerful vibe. Over in the women’s corner, Hans Hofmann paintings apparently provided much of the inspiration behind the prep-school-with-a-twist collection. In addition to polo shirts in bright shades and double-breasted blazers, there were sequins in the form of hot pants and a mini skirt, as well as metallic shorts that looked more Studio 54 than Ivy League. One particular paisley romper also stood out from the crowd. For the most part, however, palettes ranged from neutrals and earth tones to pastels and candy-colored hues. Plenty of ground was covered, from light pullovers and scalloped shorts to cropped trousers. It’s an exceedingly strong collection yet again, and just goes to show President Jenna Lyons is still at the top of her game. (And this time around it featured far less flair and over-accessorizing as FW10.)
As for the guys, Frank Muytjens looked to Maine to provide inspiration for a nautical-themed collection served with a double dose of dapper. Men’s trousers were worn looser, but not without cuffs. Sartorialist Scott Schuman would approve. Generally speaking, it’s a significantly more clean-cut look than what Americana-leaning brands have been serving up for men in recent seasons. In other words, the rugged, outdoors-man du jour isn’t losing his edge; he’s getting a upgrade.
Earlier this week news broke that Olivier Theyskens, the wunderkind designer who had been let go from both Rochas and Nina Ricci in the last five years, was finally embarking on a full-fledged return to fashion via the Japanese-owned Theory. Theyskens broke his design hiatus this past year when he designed a capsule collection for the minimalist label, which debuted at FW10 fashion week. He was subsequently hired on as the company’s artistic director, overseeing Theory’s entire women’s ready-to-wear collection. Now, just a week after the news surfacing, so have images of Theyskens’ entire line for Theory SS11. Behold bare midriffs aplenty, as well as the draped, dramatic, yet sleek silhouettes with which Theyskens has been synonymous for well over a decade.
Hemlines on skirts and dresses are floor-grazing in keeping with a dominant theme at SS11 fashion month, and denim is likewise worn low, hitting somewhere around mid-hip. Many of Theyskens’ trousers for spring are cropped – that is, when they’re not long and full and flared. The former is a bit Thom Browne with a dose of Hedi Slimane circa Dior Homme thrown in for good measure; the latter offers an interesting avant-garde interpretation of the 70s silhouette reintroduced so strongly by Celine this past spring. Sumptuous leather pants and a minidress also make an appearance in a collection whose palette is predominantly black and olive or navy hued. Its mood is simultaneously dark, brooding, and ethereal. Considering it marks Theyskens’ successful transition into contemporary wear (keeping in mind his critics often cited the inaccessible price point of his designs as his downfall), it’s a collection that, overall, looks bright.
According to spring 2011 runways next season will welcome a new erogenous zone in women’s wear. While FW10 catwalks showcased plunging neckline after plunging neckline, with quite a few bustiers and corset tops thrown in for good measure, this fashion week the industry’s gaze is moving beyond the bust. Take Marc Jacobs’ recently debuted new collection for Louis Vuitton, for instance. The designer (who Style.com says credits his influences for the collection as “Art Deco, Art Nouveau, orientalism”), sent all eyes to the thighs of his highly-stylized mannequins. There were slits rising up to quite a few model’s waists, as well as completely pant-less looks: all of which put a large emphasis on legs.
Stefano Pilati over at Yves Saint Laurent had the same idea. The second look that Pilati sent down his SS11 runway featured a model looking the definition of reserved minimalism in a white blazer and skirt (a slicked-back bun to boot), minus a crotch-grazing slit that cut into her otherwise knee-length skirt. Back at New York Fashion Week, Joseph Altuzarra had championed the same thigh-heavy silhouette with quite a few asymmetrical skirts. Point being: you might want to place pretty undergarments high up on your SS11 wish list as well.
The hair styles sprouting up on catwalks this season are schizophrenic. They’re either big and frizzy or tame and tightly pulled back. Take, for instance, Marc Jacobs’ catwalk: The voluminous curls called to mind Jodi Foster in Taxi Driver (but with a fair bit of frizz added to the picture), and are already spawning their share of copycats. Topshop Unique followed suit in London, while Sonia Rykiel kept up the wild curl crusade in Paris (although, it must be said, the designer has herself long been a follower of this particular coif). Visionnaire and V editor Cecilia Dean has already taken to channeling the look.
Conversely, on Prada, Stella McCartney, Chloe, Celine, and YSL’s SS11 runways, hair was slicked down and, in many cases, pulled taught in low buns. The duality of these styles reflects what’s happening in the wardrobes of designers’ creations for SS11, too. This spring it’s all about minimalism versus opulent femininity. The only question is, where does your allegiance lie?
Photo of YSL SS11 via Style.com
Across SS11 runways at New York Fashion Week, one commonality in the beauty department was abudantly clear: makeup-free faces. Although a few designers strayed from the clean-visage trend — Alexandre Herchcovitch’s bold lip, for instance — more often than not there was nary a trace of eyeliner or lip color in sight. At Calvin Klein, eyebrows were thick and eyelashes dark and full, but there was next to no trace of makeup on any of the models’ faces. Yigal Azrouel opted for a bold eye with careful splashes of neon, while his models’ lips were left completely bare. The faces on Alexander Wang’s runway were left laregley free of makeup, highlighting instead the models’ dewy skin.
Joseph Altuzarra, too, strayed from any visible trace of makeup, as did Band of Outsiders and Ralph Lauren. Overall, a visible push toward au natural beauty is afoot. It’s no wonder silhouettes have been more forgiving, with curves finally being invited to the party and sportswear’s extended moment. But if color has been banished from faces, it’s migrated to fashion week’s coifs. Herchcovitch, Altuzarra, Wang, and, most recently, Topshop Unique all painted the hair of their models with candy colored or pale white streaks.
Already, London Fashion Week is well under way, and one of the most anticipated runway shows — Topshop Unique — has wrapped. Rather than go against the fashion grain, Topshop’s namesake line tends to fall smack dab in the middle of the latest fads, neither pushing the envelope or falling behind it. And consumers are just fine with that. So, what’s the latest on Topshop Unique’s 70s-themed menu for spring? Set to a soundtrack that included Stevie Nicks, the show included mannequins with wildly untamed frizzy ‘dos and accordingly eclectic ensembles. Floral and suede trousers (worn loose, as seen at NYFW) were paired with psychedelic silks. Sheer was applied to tops as well as to ethereal maxi dresses. Graphic prints were splashed across rompers and flowing jumpsuits for a collection that, overall, screamed rock ‘n roll Gypsy.
Acne, arguably one of the most influential tastemakers at London Fashion Week, just staged its show at Kensington Palace. The feel was layered minimalism, skins placed atop sheer chiffon and silk. Sandals were sky-high wedges, the shoe-shape that’s dominated fashion weeks everywhere. In addition to covetable footwear, Acne made a statement with its cat-eye and round-reflective shades, bursts of color highlighting monochrome navy and blood-orange looks, and the decidedly 80s throwback of outfitting models with a single gold feather earring. To top it all off, studded leather jackets. The biggest question that arose from the catwalk presentation, though, was the identity of the showgoer wearing a head-to-toe rubber costume in the front row. At this point, all I can tell you is that Derek Blasberg is already making friends.
This much we know: Hemlines have dropped to the floor and footwear is being served up high, by way of a wedge, with a side of florals. But what about SS11 pants, you say? Sleep soundly, as New York Fashion Week’s catwalks have met with nary a harem pant this season. Derek Lam is championing a high-waist, while simultaneously embracing the wide cuts and flared denim calves that Phoebe Philo started resurrecting at Celine this past spring. Phillip Lim is promoting something a bit softer—slim but softly tailored pants in silks of various shades.
Diane Von Furstenberg’s tailored trousers likewise left her models with leg room. Hers were cut low at the waist but cropped just above the ankle in most cases. Over at Mulberry, the cropped effect was the same, though waists were raised to Lam’s levels. And Karen Walker’s looks were equally loose, and fashioned in cheery floral and fruit tones for spring. Unlike all of the transparency afloat on catwalks this season, trousers are welcoming room for a few extra pounds. It’s all the more to love.
If there’s one message coming in loud and clear for SS11 accessories this New York Fashion Week, it’s that bursts of DayGlo colors are not to be ignored. Lips at the Alexandre Herchcovitch show were lacquered with candy colors, and the Brazilian designer joined Joseph Altuzarra and Alexander Wang in accenting his mannequins’ ‘dos with neon streaks. The same goes for shoes; sprinkled across SS11 catwalks are bulky shoes in an array of bright shades. At Herchcovitch, the cartoonish heels, which in many ways call to mind Barbie’s own pumps, were painted in bright pinks, blues, and greens. A collaboration between Loeffler Randall and Suno has been generating a lot of buzz, and the graphic wedges the partnership produced are bright and blanketed in Suno’s signature kaleidoscopic prints.
Nicholas Kirkwood likewise opted for tall wedges in crafting his latest shoe for Rodarte, although the palette here is decidedly more classical—golds and blues in patterns that call to mind the ornate wallpaper at Versailles. Kirkwood also crafted towering heels for Prabal Gurung, but with a significantly more modern feeling in a simple black, white, and red palette, and structural heels outfitted with just shy of half-a-dozen buckle closures around the ankle and low calf. To boot, images of Christian Siriano’s collaboration with Payless for SS11 have surfaced. There’s nothing demure about next season’s footwear.
Nicholas Kirkwood x Rodarte for SS11 via Dazed Digital