Dries Van Noten
Dries Van Noten has an incredible knack for creating consistently comfortable glamour, and his Spring RTW 2013 collection was no exception. Van Noten’s grunge-inspired plaid prints may pay some homage to the good ol’ early 1990s rocker days, but the term “hard-edged” certainly does not describe his approach to fabrics. Integrating delicate organza, comfortable crepe, and lustrous taffeta, along with a variety of floral prints and simulated “floral” treatments, Van Noten creates a beautiful dance of masculinity and femininity—more than a playful dance really, but rather, a harmonious marriage of softness and hardness. While the late Kurt Cobain might trigger images of dark, sullen garage bands and angst-ridden, emotionally overcharged teens, Dries Van Noten’s ambiguous mixture of prints and texture is neither irreverently grotesque nor a tired cliché. His ever-refreshing, effortlessly “cool” collection exudes a casual elegance, making us constantly redefine what constitutes the term “elegant.”
Louis Vuitton’s “needs-no-introductions” creative director, Marc Jacobs, clearly sees nothing wrong, old, or hindering about looking towards the past in order to re-discover something new. Jacobs’ Spring 2013 RTW collection for Louis Vuitton is a perfect example of taking little bits and pieces of history–such iconic images and ideas (in this case, the ever popular Pop Art movement)–that we have seen over and over again—and really dissecting, analyzing, and reconstructing it to create something groundbreaking—er, well, in this case, rejuvenating, uplifting, experimental, and revived. Jacobs definitely delivered a breath of fresh air, showing a variety of flattering lengths and expanding but not exhausting the limits of the “checkerboard” through color, cut, and transparency. His end result was a whimsical, daring, and playful presentation of visual excitement, youthful spirit, and modern elegance.
Skin was definitely “in” this season at Balenciaga. Yet, for Nicolas Ghesquière, skin wasn’t about the stereotypical, scantily clad and outrageously tight party dress, nor the plunging, sheer JLO sarong, or even the ultra femme fatale-Sharon Stone-red carpet slit. No, Balenciaga’s collection bore a futuristic artistry (most noted to Ghesquière) that is graphic and severe, yet investigative and purposeful. In particular, his boxy white midriff top, worn by Liya Kebede, paired with a dramatic black and white skirt with oversized ruffles almost harks back to the structural, yet streamlined elegance of vintage Cristobal, with its exploration of shape and linearity. A string of Ghesquière’s suits and tailored looks, which consist of either a cropped or “bra-like” top, again achieve an unadorned, streamlined appeal, but are strong and confident due to their contradictory pairing. He maintains his Ghesquière rawness, but with a finesse that is visually sharp and a courage of conviction that is noticeable throughout. His curious amalgam of replicated tweeds incorporated through crop tops and mini skirt-jacket “twinsets,” is in fact, ambiguous—on a good level, upholding a worthy promise of innovation. Towards the latter half of the show, his artistic flavor and bold graphicness extends exceedingly so into a more delicate and technically intricate arrangement of geometric patterns.
Despite delving into an undeniably darker palette, Haider Ackermann did not necessarily plunge into the pits of despair—rather, his black, chocolate brown, white, and navy color story felt ultra luxurious, rich–in more ways than one–and inspiring. The thick, graphic black belt (bordering on the edge of a harness) proved to be a dominant feature throughout the collection, pulling together several looks that featured a beautiful mix of both structural and slinky stripes, polka dots, and geometric prints. One could say that the color scheme actually helped to achieve this understated elegance. Even his all-black pieces—effortless in movement—commanded attention, showing the range of what his collection had to offer. Though quite the majority layered, Ackermann’s looks, particularly his outerwear, are organically fluid and exquisitely draped, adding to the power and luxury of the clothes. Haider Ackermann’s collection overall maintained an admirable balance of strength and grace.