July 3, 2013 § Leave a comment
There is one statement I can make definitively about Elie Saab dresses – they are each and every one very pretty. They reflect an aesthetic that has been beamed into women’s heads since we were all little – tulle with sparkle. It’s an easy chord to strike within the female of the species because it reminds us of Barbies and wedding dresses and fairy tales and movie stars. It’s timeless, it’s a look that existed since before photography was invented – empresses and queens painted in dresses of sparkling tulle that looks more like fairy dust than anything real.
Elie Saab has captured this ideal perfectly and has consistently delivered the same basic idea of a dress, rendered in slightly differing ways, for years now. The palette is almost always the same – the basic grey and gold plus a few other muted, non-confrontational colors. His dresses are flattering to the figure, nipping in the waist, emphasizing the bust, but not too tight to reveal anything a woman might not be comfortable with. It’s this basic formula that’s gotten his dresses, on average, on the red carpet about 100 times a year for the last three years.
It was when I started to do coverage of these red carpet events that I developed ‘Saab fatigue.’ Hoping someone will take a fantastic risk that pays off, like Nicole Kidman in the 90s, then getting actress after actress in the Elie Saab. I understand why this women are drawn to these dresses – they are guaranteed to look pretty in their safeness. The worst dressed list nowadays usually consists of those who dare to wear something edgy, something different than this Saab aesthetic. A woman in a Elie Saab dress is a pretty thing to behold, but it’s not fashion defining, it’s not an epic moment in fashion’s history. It’s hard to distinguish one Saab dress from another most of the time, and makes me wonder what exactly he’s designing each year if every time I see one of his looks on the red carpet I can’t find anything unique about it. More than anything I want to see women in clothes as unique as women are themselves, not a cookie cutter pattern of what’s deemed as neutral by the world.
July 1, 2013 § 6 Comments
When Raf Simons was announced as the new designer, it made sense. His Jil Sander collections had a timeless feel to them while also being fresh and innovative. But it’s this aesthetic that I keep missing in his Dior collections.
Being used to designs such as this, it’s hard for me to come to any kind of positive consensus of Raf Simons’ Dior. Galliano took the Dior silhouette and dreamt it into a beautiful fantasy consistently, year after year. Simons is taking the Dior silhouette to an awkward place, and try as I might, I can’t get on board with it.
I innately have problems with designers who don’t consider a woman’s body when they’re creating. My favorite designers flatter a lady’s shape, whether it’s a woman’s curves (like Dolce and Gabbana) or her long lean lines (like Alexander Wang.) When models like Jourdan Dunn’s body don’t work in these dresses, this is a sign. This is a designer not thinking of an actual body being inside the looks he’s creating. Two of Dior’s spokespeople, Marion Cotillard and Jennifer Lawrence, arguably two of the most rockin’ bodies in film right now, look at best flattened and compressed in these collection. At worst their figures’ lines are lost, hems ending too short, peplums over exaggerating hips that are actually the perfect proportion, pants cut in completely unflattering ways that it’s hard to remember there is actually a beautiful lady contained within.
The Haute Couture F/W 2013 collection repeats the same problems that Raf Simons’ has had since his first collection with Dior. The palette is off setting, the shapes awkward, the designs are inconsistent in terms of theme and aesthetic. None of them have the pretty lines and patterns that Christian Dior was known by. Simons’ interruption of the Dior silhouette is like a bad fashion drawing. I’m not even going to start on the heavy-handed makeup and hair that he seems to favor for each collection.
Looking at the elements of these looks you can pull out some beautiful things. The detail work on these pieces is exquisite, that in the least making this collection worthy of the couture label. But the execution of the collection as a whole is a scattered mess.