Perfect Symmetry

Fashion is a vicious cycle. The clothes that came down the runways in New York, where the collections originated, and those that marched down the catwalks in Milan, destined to be worn next spring, seem light years away, now that the Paris collections are in full swing. The clothes that the French are currently offering fashion editors, buyers, and celebrities alike will, in about six months’ time, be a distant memory once the cycle begins again. Only a handful of these collections will remain etched in the minds of those who follow fashion as religiously as one might follow the presidential election on TV. I think it’s safe to say that Raf Simons’ début ready-to-wear défilé for Christian Dior is one of those rare collections that will have a lasting impact, one that would mature and perhaps even endure in the collective consciousness.
The Belgium-born Simons, Maison Dior’s newly-appointed creative director, replacing the disgraced John Galliano, sent out a 53-piece collection that seemed fresh and young, innovative yet unpretentious, unburdened by the weight of history as baffling as the frilly eighteenth-century and the anything-goes chic of the 1920s that Dior’s former designer advocated season after season. The clothes that Simons showed are quite simple: not deceptively but genuinely. They require no further inspection other than the knowledge that they are lovely to look at. A belted cocktail dress looked arrestingly modern as is, but the designer attached an overlay of pink organza shaped like a triangle, an obvious nod to Dior’s famous “A-line” silhouette that took the world by storm in 1955, a look that will certainly be reinterpreted in myriad ways in 2013. The perennial tuxedo jacket was given star billing in the show: hourglass-shaped blazers that did not scream YSL circa 1966 but, instead, recalled a leggy, tuxedo-clad Judy Garland in the finale of Summer Stock, belting out the feel-good ditty “Get Happy.” Eveningwear echoed the pared down attitude of the daytime pieces, which included a black long-sleeved jersey sweater paired with an ankle-grazing iridescent ballskirt printed with large 3D roses in pastel shades: a post-modern homage to Dior’s penchant for extravagant ballgowns. The opening ensemble—a slim tuxedo pantsuit—set the tone brilliantly, but it was the airy dresses that succinctly encapsulated the message Simons so elegantly imparts: freedom. A standout evening dress of sequined midnight-blue with a tent-like overlay of tulle was an outright tribute to Dior’s 1958 “Trapeze” collection designed by a child prodigy with the name of Yves Saint Laurent.  
No one was more miscast than Monsieur Dior in the role of fashion revolutionary; he looked more like a country bumpkin or, to be charitable, a middle-aged provincial doctor. But, as those in fashion only know too well, looks are deceiving. Simons, a forty-something straight man who resembles a Sorbonne professor, will have more opportunities to prove his worth at Dior. But, as he has shown in this highly promising collection, he is one of the chosen few who will point fashion in the right direction.


Ah, Give Me Paris in the Springtime

Paris Fashion Week 2013 (yes, for those who don't know, high fashion is always six months ahead) is being unveiled this very minute in the City of Light. This morning, two standout collections will have fashionista tongues wagging: Balmain and Balenciaga. The former, designed by Olivier Rousteing, left photo, seems to have been inspired by the oeuvre of Claude Montana: big, Joan Crawford shoulders with cropped hemlines worn with wide-legged 1940s-style trousers in bold, eye-catching prints. The painstaking detail of Rousteing's clothes almost raises the level of their craftmanship to couture. Nicolas Ghesquière's Balenciaga collection for spring/summer 2013 was all about tailoring, as it always is: edgy, cool, precise, modern. Ghesquière seems to have raided the stellar Balenciaga archives for inspiration and was overwhelmed by what he saw: marvel at his flirty black and white flamenco skirt, right photo, and cropped origami top in glacial white. Other noteworthy pieces in the show include graphic dresses emblazoned with barbed wire motifs; an off-white peacoat cut with the freedom that only a kimono sans obi can give; a post-modern take on the sports bra paired with tuxedo pants, which opened the show; a pristine white lace shirtjacket over what appears to be a tweed miniskirt borrowed from the closet of Mademoiselle Chanel. Ghesquière further elaborated on the Chanel reference by sending out a half-dozen skirtsuits in heavy flecks of black and white tweed that make one wonder if they are at all conducive to wear in ninety-degree climates. Both shows are triumphs of construction. It's interesting to see as to who will have the guts to wear them come spring.


Pensée du jour

"Time has reduced her to an essence: as a grape can become a raisin, roses an attar."
Truman Capote on Out of Africa author, Isak Dinesen.


Isak Dinesen:
"Love, with very young people, is a heartless business. We drink at that age from thirst, or to get drunk; it is only later in life that we occupy ourselves with the individuality of our wine. A young man in love is essentially enraptured by the forces within himself."

Damian Lewis!

Diana Vreeland:
"All Englishmen are born actors, and there are very few actors in the world today who aren't English."


The Belter

Look who's blogging again! After a four-month hiatus, a new post: Patti LuPone, circa 1980, as photographed by the iconic German photographer, Chris Von Wagenheim, as seen in US Vogue.