Report: Spring 2017 Haute Couture

I’m having a difficult time reconciling the recent spring 2017 haute couture collections (hence this post’s tardiness). There’s a bizarre dichotomy happening now that puts me at odds with what couture houses are supposed to stand for, and what they have become. Haute couture has never been about making money, which seems odd considering how much money it costs to produce. Sure, pieces get sold and there is some profit, but ultimately, haute couture is and has always been a money-loser. Design houses make their real money on licensing deals (hand bags, shoes and make-up) because they can be pushed at lower price points to more consumers. Haute couture’s purpose has always been to make special clothes for clients that can afford the exorbitant prices. Contemporary pieces are still hand-made using familiar traditions, but with ready-to-wear production getting better, faster and more detailed, several of the couture collections are beginning to look more and more like clothes that are already hanging on store racks.

Yeah, they’re pretty, but sometimes, that’s all they are.

What’s missing from MANY of the couture collections is fantasy.
This is, of course, my opinion. I neither produce haute couture, nor have to staff a design house. I see the couture collections as brand-building muscle-flexing for the ateliers and partly as entertainment. I can appreciate the workmanship, details and savoir-faire in every piece, even the boring ones, but when it comes down to it, the best collections are the ones that turn heads and have a story to tell. Does it always have to be over the top nonsense? Absolutely not. The beauty of haute couture is the signature it leaves on the house that creates it. Each atelier has voice. It’s how that voice gets interpreted that makes the collection sing.

Having said all that, there were a few collections that make be take notice. Some lean on the side of complacency, others, exuberant liberation. Regardless, each of these collections is exceptional in its delivery and deserves kudos.

Chanel

And the winner of the Most Improved Collection award goes too…
Pale and pastel were the watchwords this season as Lagerfeld softened his touch, and pumped out clothes that were not only beautiful, but felt lighter than seasons past. He’s still obsessed with his lofty plumage, but this season, it was refined and more approachable.Tailoring had a softer edge, and the bead-work, as always, dazzled. Let’s hope this trend continues next season.

Rami Al Ali

With only a handful of pieces, this house showed more established maisons how far clean editing can go. All done in blush and soft metallics, the pieces were worn like pliable sculpture, even when items like simple kimono tops were presented. In one season, this house managed to balance fantasy with wearability in a way that speaks volumes of its maturity.

On Aura Tout Vu

Bizarre clam shell muscle man mise en scene aside, I’m happy to announce that it’s status quo chez Tout Vu. I will always compliment this house on its inspired bead work, and this season was no exception. Working almost exclusively in a palette of black and white, it was impossible to keep up with the mosaic repetitions that adorned most, if not all of the looks that walked out. They kept the cuts clean and, for a change, only resorted to one over the top exit that included molded plastic body casts. This house knows its clients, and with approachable collections like this, are sure to entice more.

Margiela Artisanal

 Galliano continues to refine his taste at Margiela, and the more things change, the more they seem to establish a familiar vocabulary that existed before his appointment, but somehow became louder as he settled in. This season, he blew apart clothes until only the load-bearing seams were left, re-imagined applique in tulle, and layered clothes on the model that suggested they were leaving for far away excursions, and never returning. All brilliant techniques to use, and in some twisted reality I know not of, it all makes sense to the history of the house. Experimentation is the locked door of haute couture, and Galliano is listing to one side from the weight of his key chain.

Stepahne Rolland

Rolland’s signature draping was in full force this season, as it is every season, but this time he played with capturing movement in fabric. Each piece seemed as if the model had just turned or jumped, then the natural flight of the cloth was  frozen in time and rendered immobile, yet still completely wearable. Rolland does clean sophistication well, probably better than any other designer in Paris right now, and as his signature foundations rarely evolve over time, what he does manage to keep fresh are unexpected textile manipulations that feel like soft secrets being whispered to only those willing to listen.

Guo Pei

Over the top, impossible to walk in, jewel encrusted, completely devoid of all reality, and above all, unapologetically decadent…
I have no choice but to hand the season to Guo Pei’s Paris debut.
With pieces that walked like barely-wearable Fabergé eggs, Pei’s collection was forged from lost treasures found in the forgotten armoire of medieval royalty. Impossible textures of hammered gold, pleated fabrics laced with rich embroidery, and under-structures ripped from the sides of Chartres cathedral culminated in a collection that defined everything that is haute couture. Borderline costume? Damn skippy and may I have another please!?!
If haute couture has any future, that future rests on dreamers like Guo Pei. Bravo!

Haute Couture: Fall 2016

Is it me or is Haute Couture week getting shorter and shorter every season? Yet, I feel they are constantly adding more and more shows.  I dunno..

This, as with the last SEVERAL seasons, has been a bit of a sleeper as far as the WOW factor is concerned. It’s like couture designers just don’t care about making a statement any more. I get that they have to pay the bills with wearable pieces, but at one point, the clientele is going to catch on to the fact that they are showing thirty-thousand dollar jackets that look just like the eight hundred dollar jackets selling in the stores.

There is no life to the collections any more. Even heavy-hitters that used to stun and shock have slipped into repetitive navel-gazing. There used to be an excitement to the couture collections. There used to be a buzz about the clothes. Now-a-days, the press is all about kissing designer ass and who was spotted in the front row. It’s a shame.

Maybe I’m just too hard to please, but for better or worse, here is my take on the Fall 2016 Haute Couture collections.  I’m not doing a turkey list this time because the season was more middle of the road than deep end; however, I have mixed in a few one-liners for your enjoyment.

All pictures are from NowFashion.com.
They have the BEST coverage of all the collections, check them out!

Schiaparelli

Schiaparelli, Couture Collection Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

Billed as an homage to Sciap’s original circus collection, it honestly felt like more of a pastiche. There were the obvious nods to the famous embroideries and motifs, and of course, the beading and embroidery were impeccable, but I can’t help but feel that Guyon (the current head designer) is just going through the motions and is afraid to strike out on his own with the collection. Hopefully he’ll stop rummaging through the archives soon and get down to giving this house its well-deserved update.

On Aura Tout Vu

On-Aura-Tout-Vu-Couture-Paris-FW16-2865-1467639829-bigthumb

When you want to look cute, but also value your personal space.

Like a good sauce, it’s best to let it reduce to bring out its finest flavor. This season, the Vu team did just that. They stuck to their usual, nonsensical whimsy, but in such a low key, the collection almost seemed quiet. Of course there were the usual insane embellishments and textiles (I really want to know what that translucent gray stuff is), but overall it worked. I could do without their obsession with insect legs, but I’m glad to see them still on the calendar and being themselves.

Dior

Dior,Couture,Collection Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

Dear house of Dior, why the Hell are you dragging your feet hiring a new designer? I mean seriously, your ready to wear is more exciting, and that’s not saying much. This collection was so boring and unimaginative, I worry this will be the norm from now on. Hire someone already. It’s really not that difficult. In the meantime, stop pumping out this lifeless crap. Thank you.

Chanel

Chanel Couture Collection, Fall Winter 2016 Fashion Show in Paris

“No no, I WANT the dress to make it look like I’m carrying around a spread-eagle gorilla on my back. It’ll be chic!”

MY GAWD this collection was ugly – horrible cuts, nothing fit and all of the embellishments looked like afterthoughts. I mean, Karl has had some clunkers, but I don’t remember seeing anything this bad in a long time. Save for ONE dress, this season is absolutely forgettable chez Chanel, best to avoid it.

Julien Fournie

Julien Fournié, Couture Collection Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

OK, I’m sold. Yeah, it was a bit obvious, but this season at Fournie was great. Beautifully simple in its delivery, each look had a desirability that screamed elegance. Interesting embellishments, beautiful cuts and even though it was a little on the predictable side, each exit was a class act. Odd that I’m getting excited about a designer actually doing his job correctly, but hey, I’ll take what I can get. Bravo!

Stephane Rolland

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I love it when designers do what they do well. Rolland knows how to sculpt fabric into undulating confections of wearable sculpture better than most designers on the market today. He rarely strays from his beloved black and white, and in any other hands, I would probably call a repetition penalty, but when he works his traditional magic, the delivery is anything but boring. Cool cuts, BEAUTIFUL sheer insets and refined embellishments knock this season out of the park.

J Mendel Couture

J.Mendel Couture Fall Winter 2016 Fashion Show in Paris

And I’m calling this dress the “Landing Strip.”

Pretty weak debut for someone of Mendel’s clout. The guy already designs expensive clothes, what was the point of marking them up further? If you want  an evening look in need of a Brazilian, you should definitely make an appointment for a fitting.

Givenchy

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Well, at least they showed something. Givenchy has been off the calendar for a while now, and I kinda see why. Tisci (the current head designer) is usually a great couture designer. I normally  love what he does,  but this season was, uhh… interesting? Half the lace looked like kitchen curtains and this pleated number is dumpy at best, but overall… oh who am I kidding? It was boring and uninspired. Look, I get that he’s been in ready-to-wear mode for a while now, so I’m going to let it slide, but step it up Ricardo. You’re better than this.

Maison Margiela

Maison Margiela, Fashion Show, Couture Collection Fall Winter, Paris

Maison Margiela, Fashion Show, Couture Collection Fall Winter, Paris

Is it a dress? A blanket? An off-the-shoulder bathrobe? All of the above? Who knows, but that’s kinda the point, huh? Galliano has been at the MM helm for a few seasons now, and manages EVERY DAMN TIME to merge his sensibilities AND that of Margiela’s traditions – confusion, experiment, found-object and history. I honestly think that Galliano getting fired from Dior was the best thing that could have happened to him.  At Dior, he was bound by a legacy of restriction. At MM, the only thing that restricts him is his imagination. Odd, yes, but that’s right in step with the mood of the house.

Elie Saab

Elie Saab, Fashion Show, Couture Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, Saab is best when he turns to the dark side.  This collection was so deep, rich and mysterious, by the time the blush and nude colors finished the collection, you almost missed them in the darkness. The cuts were experimental for the house, if not grounded in Sabb technique, the embellishments, even though beautifully decadent, were almost architectural, and the styling was clean and classy. It was like fairy land in a black out, and frankly, I hope Saab keeps cutting down the power lines. I have no idea what that means, but whatever, the collection was great.

Gaultier Paris

Jean Paul Gaultier, Couture Collection Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

Well, it was better than last season. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good collection, but JUST good. With a dark forest theme, Gaultier cleaned out his techniques vault and cranked out familiar shapes and embellishments with a modern edge.  There were elements from past shows, like the beautiful, pleated leaves on Chrystelle’s dress that harkened back to the late 80’s/early 90’s, and familiar shapes, like the structured suits of his French can-can collection and the wide brimmed coifs that were direct patterns from his Mongolian travelers collection. It all felt comfortable, but still lacking in forward creativity. There were a few missteps, like those bizarre flaps dangling from the fronts and backs of like 20 looks, but still, there was a richness to the pieces. He could stand to step away from the Grés pleating for a change, but I think this season gave me a little hope for the Gaultier future.

Viktor and Rolf

Viktor&Rolf,Fashion Show, Couture Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

A trip to Goodwill, that’s what I’m calling this collection. That might sound like a bit of an insult, but it really isn’t. The Dutch duo likes to over-explore one theme with their couture collections, and this season they choose weaving as their starting point. Not intricate jacquards or twills, but rather a terribly simple over/under plain weave.  Taking odds and ends off the racks, they cut up then re-weaved mismatched scraps and ribbons to give very simple clothes, VERY artistic textures. They raided the random button jar, and covered every conceivable surface in thousands of the fasteners.  Beautiful tulle layers and blown together embellishments gave this season a welcome uniqueness that their past few collection have been lacking. Overall, a great step forward.

Zuhair Murad.

Zuhair Murad, Couture Collection Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

This guy does embroidered tulle probably better than any other designer working today. I mean, there’s sexy, and then there is Murad sexy. The goofy cowboy hats that adorned 60% of the models were missteps -honestly, they looked like an afterthought, but OMG these were some of the best looking bodices I have seen in a very long time from him, or any other designer.  I’m not sure classy and super sexy belong together, but if they do Zuhair’s got it all sewn up.

Valentino

Valentino-Couture-FW16-Paris

OMG PLEASE MAKE ANOTHER DRESS PATTERN ALREADY!! WHO NEEDS THIS MANY OF THAT ONE CUT OMG PLEASE?!?!! Now that that’s out of the way, this collection was rich in it its simplicity. A romp through the middle ages cum Renaissance, there were high, ruffled collars, doublet bodices and plenty of restrained elegance to pass around the medieval banquet hall. Revolutionary? Not at all, but there was such a fine, edited eye placed on this collection, I was forced to acknowledge it. The design duo that heads up Valentino does one thing VERY well, they design a collection.  Yes, they can repeat cuts ad nauseam, but they are so damn good at editing and staying true to the house’s objectives that, even though I hound them, I secretly respect them for what they are doing. SHHHHH! DON’T TELL NOBODY, Y’ALL!!! In conclusion, I hate it all and love it at the same time.

Armani Privé

Giorgio Armani Prive, Fashion Show, Couture Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

Giorgio Armani Prive, Fashion Show, Couture Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

WHO’S THE LEADER OF THE CLUB THAT’S MADE FOR YOU AND ME? M-I-C…  Oooohh, you know the rest!

As usual, Armani put me to sleep, and as usual, I’ve given up caring. The same old, same old per Girogio; I honestly wonder how he stays in business cranking out clothes that look JUST LIKE his ready to wear collection. Oh well, I’m going back to sleep. G’nite.

Alexandre Vauthier

Alexandre Vauthier, Fashion Show, Couture Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

Normally I ignore this house. I mean, it’s got its moments, but over all, it’s just sexy, rock-chick clothes; however, this season saw a slight bit of refinement, and that was worth noticing. Yeah, there were the usual “up to there” splits and sex-kitten cuts, but maybe, juuuust maybe, Vauthier is cleaning up his act. I don’t need him to clean it all up, I mean, sex pays the bills, but little numbers like this go a LONG way to showing customers that naughty can be refined.

Adeline André

Adeline André Fashion Show, Couture Collection Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

In the year 3562, this is what doctors will wear into surgery.

Let’s face it; André has been doing the same thing for decades now. And by “doing the same thing,” I literally mean DOING THE SAME THING. You could pull a look from her first season and mix it within the lineup from the current season, and you would have NO idea that it was from the archives.  She refuses to stray from her path, and that is her strongest attribute. It is platonic and clean to the point you wonder how she’s stayed in business for so long? Yup, but within that, you have to admit that her body of work looks nothing like anything else on the couture runways, and for that stick-with-it-ness, I applaud her.

Ulyana Sergeenko

Ulyana Sergeenko, Fashion Show, Couture Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

When you get dressed in the dark, but still have to ride your moped to work.

I mean, yeah, I don’t know why I ever expect this collection to make ANY sense, but here we are. It was bonkers, as usual, and I’m just so very tired of that. The clothes are ugly, the styling is goofy as Hell and none of it makes a lick of sense. Sequined bathrobe? Check. Bodysuit? Check. Dad’s shoes? Check. Goofy-ass garter belt with matching tights? THAT’S A BIG OL’ CHECK! This is what an unstable old lady wears to the grocery store when she runs out of her medication. Only I know the old lady didn’t have to drop the better part of 40,000 dollars to buy it.

Atelier Versace

Versace Atelier, Fashion Show, Couture Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

This collection is difficult for me because I’m totally on the fence with it. On one hand, I applaud Donatella’s experimentation with the draping and the cuts, on the other hand, it all felt a little too derivative of other designers’ work.  I mean, if you told me Haider Ackerman had taken over the house, I honestly would have believed it. There were some beautiful pieces, like the one pictured, where the house nailed it, but others just felt rushed and unfinished. I dunno, I’m giving it to Versace for the step forward, but maybe refine and edit the collection a bit more in the future.

OK, that wraps up the season for me.

I’m going to be working on some showpieces and will update you all with progress pics as soon as I make some progress.

Toodles!

Fall 2016: Now serving turkeys

I said I wasn’t going to do a turkey list, but the temptation was just too much to resist.

Without further ado, here is the best of the worst from Fall 2016.

Bernard Wilhelm

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That look he gives you when he thinks his outfit is on point
and you change your mind and say you just wanna stay in and order pizza.

St. Laurent

YSL

“OH Mr. Palmer, you’re so talented, OH Mr. Palmer, I love working for you!
BLAH BLAH BLAH!
If the rest of the backup dancers think they’re getting MY man with their mindless flattery, they’ve got another thing coming!
Look out, Mr. Palmer!
You WILL notice me tonight!!”

Moncler Gamme Rouge

Moncler Gamme Rouge

When you didn’t get up early enough to catch the bus to your Swiss Miss audition, and you have to walk to work.

Gareth Pugh

Gareth Pugh

(Muffled speaking):
“Suzy Lecter for the defense, Your Honor.
I will prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my client is 100% innocent of all cannibalism charges.”

Comme des Garçon

Comme Des Garcons

Peggy didn’t care if the whole world knew she was suffering from hemorrhoids. It was her right to be comfortable when she sat down, and she was going to carry as many donut pillows with her as she wanted.

Moschino

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When you know you’re a bad-ass bitch, but still like it when someone calls you princess.

OK, NOW I’m done with fashion month.

Paris Ready to Wear: Fall 2016

Au revoir, Paris.

Well, it was another sleeper in the city of lights. I mean, there were some good collections, but this place is starting to look more and more like New York with every passing model. I get that marketability sells clothes, but at one point, all the personality is left to circle the drain.

I’m not even going to bother with a turkey list this season, because the bad was just so completely mediocre.

Anyway, let’s focus on some highlights, shall we?

Elie Saab

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, when Saab goes dark, he gets good. Slinky, eclectic, rough and downright sexy, this collection hit all the high points of getting down. The message was in the mix as he switched up his usual pretty fabrics for edgier textures that skimmed over the body and revealed more than just workmanship. I don’t know if his clientele reacts to this the way I do, but dammit, if they want to work through a season that was lacking in eye-catching clothes, they are best to drop their spending cash on this label.

Miu Miu

As always, Miu Miu makes desirable clothes that, while out of most people’s budgets, is geared to a wider audience. Her diversity peaked this season when she chose to show her pieces on plus size models. Now, in the grand scheme of things, a size 6/8 really isn’t that “plus,” but for a Prada held line, it’s practically revolutionary. The looks worked on all the body styles, which is a testament to the Prada aesthetic, but within that, they models looked natural, almost complacent in their normalcy on the runway. I don’t want to get too deep here, but the question has to be asked, would diversity in shape give the collections that are lacking that spark, some interest? I duuno, but whatever the answer is, more designers could study this example and start taking notes.

Manish Arora

This season worked well for Arora. He chose a soft color story that hinged on denim. His modes win the diversity award, and above all else, there was live in every stitch. The collection had an ethnic air, as always, but there was a certain approachability to each look. Of course there were the usual nonsensical pieces that will never hit the stores, but for the most part, the line was stocked with bankable separates and looks that will appeal to a wide audience. Snaps for including designer Chantal Thomas and photographer Ellen Von Unworth in the model line up. The brought a charm to an already brilliant collection.

Christian Dior

I’m sorry, did I just type the words “Christian Dior” and not cringe? Umm, I think I did. Look, I’m this house’s most vocal critic and I’m not about to cut them any slack, especially when they drag their feet on finding a new head designer, but OMG there were too many good pieces in this collection to not at least tip my hat in their general direction. The coats were on point and echoed the cuts of the haute couture. In hand-stitched, saturnine finery, they failed, as marketable ready to wear, they succeed beyond belief. Beautiful updates of Dior’s heritage were evident in every stitch and the styling, although boring, was clean enough to get a pass. Now, if LVMH would just get off their asses and pick a designer already, my grief would be over, for now. Hey guys, I hear Gareth Pugh is free!

OK kiddos, that’s it for fashion month until the haute couture collection in July.
Believe me it’ll be here faster than you can realize.

Milan: Fall 2016

OMG MILAN! Bringing the heat!

I haven’t been this excited about the Milan collections in a while! Beautiful fabrications, cuts and tailoring all added up to a fresh and lithe season that mixed traditional classics with streamlined modernity. Yeah, I know that sounds pretentious, but just go with me on this – it was all really good!

DSquared2

Look, I’m not the Caten’s biggest fan. I think some of their collections verge on the garish, but this season felt more pulled together and edited than past seasons. It was like Adirondack couture, with fox coats, mountain man print mixing and lux textures dripping with their usual embroidered opulence; however, within all the decadence, there was an approachable hand to all the looks. No, this stuff ain’t hitting Macy’s any time soon, and with price tags that range in the tens of thousands, I’m not sure they should, but for the first time in a while, the collection felt honest, and if for nothing else, I’m applauding them for their efforts.

Moschino

THIS GIRL IS ON FIRE!!
No, really.
Burning it all down was the theme this season chez Moschino as the models rocked cigarette earrings, tough-as-nails leather and dresses that were LITERALLY smoking as they stomped the runway. Too much? Well yeah, but it was all too much fun to ignore. Amidst the nonsense were plenty of frocks and looks to keep the retailers happy, plenty of drama to keep the editors happy, and PLENTY of fun to keep the wanting masses , well, wanting more. I have to say, the opening look, a long leather jacket gown, seemed fresh and, to me at least, something I’ve honestly not seen in all my years in design. I will say that the gilt mirror pieces were reminiscent of Todd Oldham’s fall ’92 Interiors collection, but they were just a nod and not direct copies.  Having said all that, there could have been a little editing on Scott’s part, as the burning edge looks did seem to drag on, (and honestly, Deacon did this theme just a year or so ago, did we really need to revisit it so soon?)but the good time was enviable and ultimetly, burned us all up!

Roberto Cavalli

WOOHOO! Peter Dundas is back designing for a house that needed a lift, and fits within his sexy-design aesthetic.  He’s really good at dissecting a house’s traditions, and this season at Cavalli, we got a beautiful mix of modernity and the house’s history. I always let a designer have a first collection, just to settle into a house. I will state opinion, but usually save the vitriol for their sophomore outing (if needed); however, I don’t think I’ll need to voice any concern because this collection was so smooth,  well-delivered and honest to the legacy of Cavalli, I can’t imagine Dundas will need much prodding. It was beautifully brilliant, and I can’t wait to see next season.
Side note: What’s with this guy and designing for houses that end with an “i”?

Jil Sander

Look, I usually bypass this house as its design helm has gone through more hands than a doobie at a frat party, and the aesthetic has dry-heaved and floundered over the years, but this season was so clean and true to the legacy of Jil Sander, I had no choice but to sit up and take notice. The head designer, Rodolfo Paglialunga, obviously went through the archives and studied what made Jil Sander a notable designer – strong lines for women laced with a modern edge.  You’re not getting a flowing cocktail dress at Sander, and Paglialunga knows this. He made beautifully tailored coats, handsome jackets and a few metallic frocks that will satisfy the coolest clientele on the market. Revolutionary? Nope, but that’s exactly the way it should be at Sander.  Smooth, effortless and above all, sincere.

OK, Paris is the last. It’ll be up in a little bit.

London: Fall 2016

London’s calling and I really wanna answer the phone!!

Now, in all fairness, I typically ignore London Fashion Week, but because New York is such a nap-inducing bore, I’ve started to pay more attention to England’s offerings, and shame on me for not noticing it before!

There is so much happening on the London catwalks, that it can be a dizzying blend of overwhelming visuals, but within that mix, there’s a hell of a lot that should make the global fashion market sit up and take notice.

Let’s go!

Mary Katranzou

The babushkas were a misstep, and let’s face it, she ain’t dressing no shy little violets with those bold colors and patterns, but frankly speaking, Katranzou kinda nailed the mix this season. She always knows how to push the envelope just enough to make flamboyant, almost garish, pieces approachable enough to sell, and this is her mutant power. If you’re Katranzou’s consumer, (you’ll know if you are because you make more money in a week than I’ll see in a lifetime) you’ll have plenty to stock your walk-in closet with this coming fall. It was riot of nonsense, and that makes it amazing.

McQueen

OMG, real clothes, AGAIN! Burton knocked it out of the park this season chez McQueen. Beautiful suitings, stunning column dresses and just the right pinch of subversive styling to cinch it in, in all the right places. The hallmark of Alexander Mcqueen was how well he balanced the outré with the civilized. It took Burton a while to find her stride, but now that she has, I wish her reign over this house much continued success. There was a slightly surrealist touch to the prints and embroideries. Like taking everyday objects and turning them into almost icons of monotony. There’s beauty in the ordinary, and this collection proved it well.

Westwood Red Label

Dame Viv heads up a brilliant team. They know how to rummage through the archives, chop up the aesthetic and rearrange it in the best possible combinations. This season saw a boiled down restraint in it’s delivery. The tailoring was outstanding, as usual, and the languid draping and mix of prints gave this season’s dower color palette a much needed shot in the ass. It’s another bang-up collection, to be sure, but it would be nice to push future seasons into what made Westwood a name in the first place: innovation. An unmistakably Westwood collection; now, let’s move on with it.

Gareth Pugh

I have a theory: Gareth Pugh is bucking for the next Dior appointment. He has to be. This season saw restraint, editing and tailored perfection so much, that it has to be the next logical step. And you know what, I approve. This is all speculation, I know, but honestly, this is EXACTLY what Dior needs. Someone who can shake up the establishment, but at the same time, make salable, wearable clothes. Anyhoo, this collection was simple, to say the least, but with added attractions like Blade Runner hair and face masks a la Hannibal Lecter, there was just enough of Pugh left to get his point across. Brilliantly effortless, almost a bit too quiet, but overall, this guy constantly proves that he can navigate the treacherous waters from the ridiculous to the sublime.

OK, Milan is in the mix next time.

Fall 2016: New York

That’s it! I give up! New York has bored me for the last time. Unless there is a vibrant jolt of excitement during the next Spring collections, I will no longer be covering the New York shows. It’s so sad that a city based on energy and wonder can’t get it together to freshen up a dying, creative industry.

The 70’s revival of the 90’s? Really? This was the most obvious theme of the season? Guys, it didn’t work the first time, was this trip really necessary? SERIOUSLY, more than most of the designers showed bell bottoms in the lion’s share of their collections.Let me repeat that: BELL. BOTTOMS.

And if I send 7th avenue a box of crayons for color inspiration, could you all just pass it around to make sure everyone knows what the Hell interesting hues are supposed to look like? My gawd, it’s like a colorblind mortician painted all the fabric this season. Even DKNY, a house founded on taxicab yellow, was barely lucky to get a shot of red at the end of the 90% black and more black collection.

Yeah, there were a few shots of adrenaline in the mix.
And by “a few” I literally mean A FEW.

These are the collections that didn’t put me to sleep. Don’t worry, it’s a short list.

Thom Browne

Yeah, I know, it’s nonsense as usual at the house of Browne, but honestly, I’m really cinching this collection for Stephen Jones’ glorious neck tie head sculptures. There were the usual goofy, tailored looks, but the freshness came from really working with texture. Fabrics were designed to look shredded, cuts were designed to look haphazard and trims weren’t always what they seemed. It was something of the new for Browne, and I’m eager to see if he can keep this trend going for next season.

Nicholas K

Again, the M.O. at Nicholas K rarely changes, but there was a languid smoothness to some of this season’s looks. Tailored charmeuse and draped outerwear moved along the runway with a slinky sex appeal that I rarely see at their shows.It was also one of the most formal shows they’ve ever had. Maybe the team at NK is growing up? Regardless, it’s always a great ride!

Marc Jacobs

Well, I hope you have a black-tie funeral to go to this coming fall because Marc Jacobs has some clothes to sell! Dark, depressing, dower and above all EXCITING! Yup, chez Jacobs was one of the highlights this season (if you can call a predominately dark color palette “a highlight”) because he was one of a handful of designers that actually took a risk and (gasp!) got creative with clothing design! SHOCKING, I know. Seriously, the cuts were a dream and the fabrications and embellishments were outstanding. Just ignore the Marcel Wave mullets and the shiner eye-jobs, and you should be fine.

Cynthia Rowley

Wait, really? OK, I guess. Yeah, like I said, New York was slim pickings this season, but Rowley delivered a collection that was on point, clean and above all, true to herself. Look, you’re never going to buy a revolution when you’re shopping at Rowley’s, but when a lot of other designers are trying to be something they are not, it’s good to see that someone is showing a lookbook of honest staples from their finely crafted heritage. Wearable, fun and above all, interesting, Rowley nailed it with her signature wit this season and proves how she has been able to last so long in this industry.

Yup, that’s it for New York.

London, Milan then Paris next.