Sunday, September 28, 2008

The French boudoir, Vegas style...

So Paris has finally arrived, and not a moment too soon. I think we're all in desperate need of a moment, no?

Unfortunately I think we'll have to wait a few days for that moment to arrive, but in the meantime....


I have to preface this little review by saying that I don't entirely get Balmain. Or rather, I don't get what's so great about it. Yeah, they're fun, easy to comprehend clothes that young women would have a great time wearing. And yeah, it's a bit of eye candy....the kind that rots your mind and burns your retinas, but eye candy none the less. But beyond that I'm constantly left feeling like I'm looking at a totally different collection than everyone else. I think the cult-like love arround this house lately comes from two things. The first is that it's worn by Carine Roitfeld, the oh-so-chic EiC of Paris Vogue that everyone (including me) worships. The second, and in my opinion more important reason, is that these clothes are shown in Paris. If the same rock and roll cliches and party girl colors were shown by some up and coming hyped up designer in New York, people would call it out for being boring, unimaginative, not innovative and any other adjective you can think of for predictable. If one of the Italians who really invented this brazen rock chick territory were to do it (Cavalli, Versace, Dolce et al), people would rip it apart for being trashy, slutty, tacky and dated.

Exhibit A
(Balmain vs Cavalli)

Now, I'm all for some fun party clothes that wobble the line between tasteful and trashy, I love mile-long legs, and my inner drag queen (yes, I have an inner woman and an inner female impersonater....Freud would've loved me) loves a bit of sparkle. It's a whole flamer to the moth situation. But to me Decarnin's collections have wobbled so much that they've slipped, fallen, and woken up in a Vegas revue. This makes me question if these are all just conditioned responses. Why else would I put this stuff in the guilty pleasure section instead of just out-and-out liking it? Is it because my opinion has been influenced by outside sources that essentially tell me that if I really love fashion, I shouldn't like this garbage? And why else would people praise the same stuff that they criticize from a different designer? If we're going to hold Cavalli to a standard then should everyone be held to it?

Anyway, enough of my pseudo-existential rant and more on the clothes. This season, Christophe Decarnin seems to be sticking to his glitzed up, crotch baring, body binding silhouette but now adds a shoulder pad into the mix. It's fine to catch a buzz like the current one going on with the shoulder, but when you put a shoulder pad into a fully beaded and sequined micro-mini dress it's a one way ticket into bad 80's territory. You might wonder how someone who's 22 years old would know this kind of stuff, but I've seen the family photo albums....I know of what I speak.

I love Tina Turner, but she's shown us that love has nothing to do with it and moved on. Shouldn't the rest of us follow suit?

Get past the mile wide shoulders and the rest of the collection is pretty run of the mill Balmain; skinny rock-star-poseur jeans, some genuinely cool jackets, and more bandagey, bondagey, sparkly little dresses than even Kylie Minogue would know what to do with.

^ I swear my cousin used to have a Barbie doll that wore this same dress...

Nina Ricci

Ever since Olivier Theyskens landed on his elfin feet at Nina Ricci, he's produced some extremely beautiful clothes (particularly evening dresses). But he's failed to make as powerful a statement as he did when he started at Rochas back in 2003. He has given Ricci an identifiable look; soft, oversized jackets, airy dresses with seams and drapes that twist around the body, and fantastical evening pieces that seem like a fairy tale that your mother might tell you right before you doze off and you can never remember a dream. Overall his Ricci girl, as he likes to call her, is diametrically opposed to his Rochas woman. She wears louche, slightly dishevelled layers of clothing with matted, doll like hair and pixieish makeup while his Rochas woman was always immaculately tailored, restrained and coiffed in her couture crinolines. But for all of the beauty and individuality of the look that he's created so far chez Ricci, he hasn't managed to make a real impact.

This season, he seems to be continuing with some of the ideas he proposed in his oddly beautiful fall show; rounded coats with an oversized proportion, blurry flora inspired prints, vaguely Victorian details like ruffled necks and puffed sleeves and floor sweeping trains. I wasn't the biggest fan of that collection, and even now the only things about it that I like are some of the coats and the stunning evening dresses that look like they were dragged on a forest floor. This season he stuck to one look for the majority of the lineup; long sleeved dresses with a dropped hem in the back that creates a train. They came printed, transparent, layered and frilled, some with puffed sleeves, some with no sleeves, mock necked, scoop necked, and boat necked in every washed out shade of parchment, ecru and ivory you could possibly imagine. There were occasional pops of color, like a floor sweeping bright orange coat and pale plue prints and blush, but the dominant colors were non-colors.

In the entire collection of 30 some-odd looks, two of them consisted of pants. Maybe he took the bad reviews of the pants he showed last season to heart and only threw these two pairs in as a token gesture. About 2/3 through the procession he sent out some slippery camisoles and tap shorts paired over stockings which, if you want to be technical, would fall into the pants category. How many woman are gutsy enough to wear them as such is open for debate, but the looks have a sexy deshabille sort of appeal....they're lingerie after all.

All in all, this collection was too one note for my liking. Almost all of these dresses are strictly evening attire. After all, not many women wear trains for daily life. I mean, could you imagine having to walk around in any city across the world all day and having to worry about who might step on your dress or if it might get caught in the subway doors? There are things that I like about the collection, and I get a certain ballet vibe from some of the simpler looks like the cream transparent numbers that opened the show. There's beauty to be found, but that's to be expected from Theyskens, so I can't give him too much credit for that. I do think he achieved his goal of making a statement, but I don't think it really pushes his work at Ricci forward or stops to make you think about fashion as a isn't that powerful. I guess I'm a bit ambivalent about this, and I truly hate when that happens in response to a show. I like to respond powerfully, passionately and decisively, whether I love it or hate it. There's nothing worse in fashion than to just like something, because at the end of the day most of what you see ends up in that category.

all fashion show images from and via chessmess at tFS.


EauDeVie said...

oh,it's unimaginable that a ricci girl need to take a sub....

Anonymous said...

Thank you for what you said about Balmain! I love Carine but she could wear Balmain every day of the week and I wouldn't fall for it. You are so right about it being glorified... I don't 'get' the brand at all. but the worst part is that I don't think there IS anything to get, so I am always baffled at people's love for it.

and for Ricci... he really needs to do something... anything. The last couple of efforts haven't been anything like what he is capable of.