Those who have been watching know it’s been a bit of an upset Olympics thus far, what with Sean White and Bode Miller not making it on to their respective podiums. But in this week’s other big competitive event, at least, on Day Six things proceeded exactly as expected.
The irony is, in fashion this can be a disappointing thing.
At Boss, for example, Jason Wu was making his debut as artistic director of womenswear, a potentially disruptive event (whenever a new designer gets hold of a house, it’s potentially disruptive), which means an exciting one. Boss clearly wanted to make a splash with this collection – though celebrities have been low on the ground, they packed the front row with Diane Kruger, Reese Witherspoon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Gerard Butler – but to do that, you need to surprise people, and show them something they hadn’t already imagined for themselves.
It didn’t happen. What did was an entirely predictable re-engineering of the brand’s signature slick, sturdy tailoring, albeit with some Bauhaus architectural detailing – prints that resembled the abstracted sides of skyscrapers – mixed in with the black and grey flannels. The theme was picked up and picked out in the evening wear, so that flyaway frocks came with their own geometry of laser-cut silk, though it was smartest in a mix of suiting hemlines that merely hinted at the same. Accomplished, sure, but it’s not ideal when the overall reaction to your first effort is a shrug-ish “same old, same old”.
At least in the case of Michael Kors, aka fashion’s newest billionaire, aka the designer whose now-famous IPO has vaulted him into the mega-moguls pantheon, made him the envy of much of the industry and caused the recent charge-to-go-public currently under way in brands such as Marc Jacobs, sticking to the high-luxe ease associated with his name is understandable: when things are going so well, why rock the superyacht?
Better to gently tilt it via a dollop of 1970s gypsy and touch of wild west fringing; according to Kors, inspired by California’s Big Sur, though it looked more like Stevie Nicks-with-a-sugar-daddy. Hemlines, as with spring/summer, were fluid and below-the-knee, knits were cashmere, alpaca and ribbed, coats were oversize and sable or tailored tweed, and it all instant-messaged a laisser-faire richesse.
And so it went, with designers staying firmly in their comfort zone. Jeremy Scott, whose way with a sartorial pun had him recently crowned creative director of Moschino (he’ll make his debut later this month in Milan), mixed his sports metaphors via fuzzy, crayola-coloured football jersey sweaters and dresses, Adidas stilettos, athletic mesh, stripes, ribbing and lacings (plus prints that ranged from Band-Aids to cartoon monsters). At Marchesa, Georgina Chapman and Kieran Craig produced their usual fairy princess parade, with felted metallic lace, ostrich, tiers, jewels and tulle – the difference being this time the dresses came complete with rosettes and chiffon draped over the shoulder and around the waist in a slightly obscure version of a hauteland fling.
At least Reed Krakoff, who unabashedly embraced his love of the exotics and what they do to texture, mixing anaconda print and cashmere, real python, astrakhan and jersey (albeit with in his very tight sportswear vocabulary), also stretched his aesthetic wings a bit: dropping hemlines; turning skirts into sarongs; adding a pattern of gold discs; and throwing in a pop of colour – sunshine yellow; saturated blue – to raise the stakes. Amid the camel, cream and grey they came as a satisfying surprise, though a little more restraint (or a fair amount more restraint) with the skins might have made the impact even stronger.
Still, they did make an impact, as did the riot of print at Proenza Schouler. There familiar shapes such as skating dresses, bra tops, skinny trousers, skirt suits and single breasted coats were given an update via the rounded shoulders and sleeves that have begun to show up on numerous runways this week, here so exaggerated the models looked as though they had to hold their arms away from their bodies out of necessity, over only slightly less exaggerated curving hips. That was it for the shapes, but within that frame came a mixed and never matched flood of splatter prints, moiré swirls and wood whorls – often all at once.
It was a party in a pantsuit. Who knew they wanted that? But guess what: it looked like a whole lot of fun.