YAGH/- Proenza Schouler
This collection nearly ended up on my ‘BLAGH’ list – the first looks were all very nice, very Proenza, but I was sitting there half falling asleep. I believe reviewers refer to this as the designer ‘solidifying their signature’ or ‘re-establishing their house codes’ or something. For me, however, it just felt a little bit like going over old ground and not particularly well enough to make you want to sit through it. Kind of like somebody unnecessarily introducing you to a friend of theirs that you already know all about. Things got interesting in the final looks though as Jack and Lazaro really opened their creativity up and gave us a taste of where they can take this old rust-bucket that is fashion.
Dresses with large-scale singular photo prints were covered with eyelets, grommets and flat studs. Cathy Horyn articulated their inspiration thus:
“On the Internet they found images of protesters, a beach scene, and they were planning to cut them up and combine them in some way with woven leather and maybe studs. The finished garments, in fact, were mesmerizing: couture as Tumblr.”
This ‘couture as tumblr’ idea really grabbed my attention. If you extrapolate that statement out you can start to see the connections between the two things. Tumblr and other photo sharing sites are all about personal involvement and curation. It’s not just the passive consumption of images and garments, but active involvement, just like old school couture.
This feels incredibly contemporary. More like the fashion industry may be taking teensy steps towards approaching clothes as people do, as individual unique experiences. The studs were what really pushed it for me. It’s what took it beyond merely being another digital print. In fact it’s what made these dresses feel truly digital. Each little dot felt like a tumblr note, each eyelet was a reblog. The cumulative effect was almost a hint towards crowd-sourced fashion, as if you could feel each and every viewer’s emotional involvement in the work.
Digital is all about the personal, and these dresses felt very personal. At the end of the day it’s about active involvement in the world around us, and this ‘tumblr couture’ feels like a statement of that.
/NAGH – Rodarte
Rodarte was a double betrayal. Not only did they fail to get back on track after a fair run of bad seasons (which I’ve been desperate for them to do since like S/S11), but they copied other visionary designers so badly and unimaginatively. Firstly, the appeal of Rodarte has always been their pure artistic vision and uncompromising non-trendiness. It’s about the Rodarte sisters’ personal story, and engagement with their work. This season could’ve been designed by anyone. They completely abandoned their aesthetic, and it felt rushed and uncared for. How sad. I honestly believe that they could do their wispy draped distressed thing season after season (just in different colourways, etc) and get away with it, because it’s simply undeniably beautiful.
Unfortunately they seem to be feeling the pressure to become some kind of ‘fashion’ brand – which is not just unnecessary but totally wrong for them. Stick to the art/fashion, would be my advice. My main worry with Rodarte attempting to ‘do’ fashion is that the sisters simply aren’t cut out for it. They’re clearly quiet, bookish ladies (they studied art history and got into the fashion game sort of by accident) and aren’t trained designers who have been initiated to the pressures of the relentless fashion system. My suspicion is that they can’t hack the seasonal nature of it all, and don’t have the kind of creativity that can be relied upon, as most fashion designers do.
So why bother? Why do the fashion weeks at all? Grow some balls ladies, and become the Alaia of America. It would be amazing to have one fantastic Rodarte collection every couple of years.
(Just a reminder of how great they can be.)
My second gripe is the sheer badness of the copying. A certain amount of copying is to be expected from the Americans, after all that’s pretty much their thing. And I generally have no objection to sellable designers copying the more avant-garde designers, because the whole point of having an avant-garde is for their ideas to be made palatable by others. That’s just how culture works. But seriously? The clothes were lumpy misshapen literal translations of various Balenciaga designs from various collections, grabbed harem scarem. The colours and fabric were taken wholesale, and mashed up into scary Frankenstein’s monsters. This was less of a caring, thoughtful homage; more of a panicked supermarket sweep. I even saw bits of Dries van Noten’s beautiful fabric clashing in there and as far as I am concerned Dries is the one designer you do not copy. Don’t even go there, I won’t hear of it.
To be clear: If you are going to copy, copy well. Copy with care, and heart, and bring something to it.
BLAGH – Alexander Wang
I usually like Alexander Wang, but this season I have very little to say, apart from … meh. It was all very clean, and polished, and refined, and whatever. The looks all blended into each other, and I felt as if I was trapped in a prison of white and seethrough style lines, desperately trying to count the days.
I’m pretty sure any old sod could have had that idea and done what he did with it. Nice but, oh god, DULL. I’ve seen all these ideas before. In fact, I think I may have had these ideas before myself and discarded them for being too ‘meh’ before beating myself for being so generic and unimaginative.
Liked the knits though. Some lucky graduate has gone and got themselves a nice job.