Noir’s Ode to Nature

At Noir by Kei Ninomiya, the message was clear: we are provoking our own apocalypse so let's do something in order to help nature, because even if it is stronger than we could imagine, it is really suffering now. The show was a beautiful metaphor expressed in the poetic fashion he is known for. The dark location gained the finale effect – no bright LED lights, just a spotlight that followed the models on the catwalk, and music which oscillated from celestial to gloomy and back. The opening looks seemed like pure white show, accompanied by real plant headpieces by Japanese flower artist Azuma Makoto. Then pollution soiled this immaculate surface with a black glaze that, look by look, turned into a deep and total black. The music then became dramatic, and the reaction of the natural elements overtook the human aspects and grew gorgeously again, completely covering the human body. Clothing became something more than just a thing to wear; they were the signifiers of a strong positive message of unity and brotherhood: together we can have the right energy to create a new healthy world.

Queens and nobles, courtiers and courtesans blended into one at Comme des Garçons. The theatrical presentation by Rei Kawakubo is the second act of the “Orlando” project that will see its acme in December 2019 at the Vienna State Opera when Olga Neuwirth will direct the play using costumes designed by the iconic Japanese designer. The performance, based on the Virginia Woolf novel, will contain a groundbreaking clothing set that will span from the Elizabethan era to the 18th and 19th centuries, from the modern age to the future, all summed up in unexpected silhouettes. The first act happened last June when the men’s collection was showcased. The 35 looks were flamboyant and over-decorated; the proportion was reinvented and turned upside down: the body looked deformed or constrained in oversized decorated shells. It’s interesting to observe how a project conceived for a theatre stage can be turned into a collection to be sold in the stores. Kawakubo-san is not afraid of experimenting, and she always loves to challenge herself – as we are all aware that she's not an unprepared novice designer, and she understands perfectly how to turn stage costumes into cool products. 

Can you use only one item and design a collection? The answer is yes. Junya Watanabe did it, and he did it in his own way: very desirable items injected with his trademark cut and paste ability, yet not as groundbreaking as he could be. The Japanese designer didn’t concentrate on the variety of fabrics and combinations; he started with the trenchcoat on a journey into possible variations and evolutions. Oversizing and minimizing kept the classic British raincoat in its original shape, using the volumes as the protagonist. The deconstruction was apparent, as the collection transformed into voluminous long dresses and skirts, little dresses, mini pleated skirts, corsets, tailleurs, and blousons, ending with evening long jackets. The famous gabardine cotton fabric was also used in a play with patchwork to recreate beautiful long lace dresses and biker pants, marked by its original beige colour interrupted by flashes of fluo or printed sportswear-inspired gear made in collaboration with Brazilian and Spanish street artists, respectively Bicicleta Sem Freio and Demsky J.

Why would one include a four-inch tall leather belt on the jacket of a suit? Even if the waist has always been pivotal in Haider Ackermann creations and silhouettes, sometimes these styling ideas, a clear show trick, are pushed a bit too far. The collection started with a parade of beautiful, tailored looks that showed the ability of the designer in the construction of a masculine look, which is part of his DNA. And the co-ed show had a charming beginning: the ribbed minimal top on men’s pants for women and a soft pearl grey suit for men worked well, as did the following looks (apart from the belts). Then everything lost its focus when some t-shirts, sportswear, and leisurewear (even if luxury made) appeared, as they looked a bit out of place. The audience of family and friends gave him an ovation, but the real world is outside.

Lightness and the craftsmanship was the starting point of Hermès by Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski, the brand’s Creative Director. The excellent artisanal approach of the French maison established his own design without becoming a slave to fashion trends. For next summer, unexpected mixes enhanced the functionality of the offering: organdy met leather, beautiful leather apron dresses, updated safari jackets and chemisiers with perfect construction. A flair of traditional Greek costumes was visible in some shapes, and the masculine tailoring was a bit oversized with wide sleeves, which felt sophisticated. In contrast, unexpected femininity was injected by the short skirts and tank tops, giving even more lightness to the collection. All was summery and fresh, even if it was filled with the signature leather. But some details seemed out of tune, like the leather dickies on the cotton tops that made the silhouette a bit heavy. 

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