Mirror, mirror, on the wall, whose Spring 2013 collection was most surprising of all? Could it be Viktor & Rolf? Just maybe. On a fragmented checkerboard runway backed by a glass staircase and giant framed mirror, the duo sent out a collection that was romantic, drapey, and even classically pretty. Grecian gowns in softly pleated panels of black, white, silver, and soft peach were lovely; some came topped with flowing duster coats or fuzzy fur sweaters. There were also loosely tailored trousers adorned with giant bows, silk varsity jackets, and sharp-cut blazers trimmed with strips of embellished metallics. It was all very "fairy-tale princess goes Hollywood" — and also a little disconcertingly out of character. That is, of course, until the cheeky peplum-ruffled moto vests, rose-emblazoned fur maxi skirts, and power-shouldered draped lamé jumpsuits started to appear. Those were pure, unadulterated Viktor & Rolf.
Tsumori Chisato's happy riot of color and print continued for Spring 2013. This time around, it came with a vaguely Southwest theme: cartoon cacti, antelope skulls, and vibrant desert-sunset hues. But for all its whimsy and sparkle, there were still wearable pieces on offer: a white silk t-shirt dress adorned with a watery zigzag print, a flowing maxi dress in printed chiffon, and a sharply cut pantsuit in bold cherry red.
Talk about sportif: Junya Watanabe's collaboration with Puma has clearly had an impact on his main collection for Spring 2013 — so much so that he put pieces from that collaboration on the runway.
While the capsule collection, with its high-top sneakers and garments made from tech fabrics, was appropriately athletic, the collection itself imagined the very distant future of sportswear. Garments of all kinds had mesh inserts in a variety of colors, and sportswear fabrics were made chic and forward-thinking with sheer overlays and inventive, body-skimming cuts. There were a few moments when Watanabe didn't dote on track and field: two little black dresses toward the end of the show were among the most chic variations on the wardrobe staple we've seen all week.
April Crichton is set to leave Sonia Rykiel now that Geraldo da Conceicao has been appointed creative director — but before she started packing up her desk, she created a final collection that helps herald a new direction for the French house.
While Crichton didn't exactly abandon Rykiel's signatures, she did set them aside momentarily to consider something more Japanese than French. There were kimono shapes and allusions to the obi belt sprinkled generously throughout, along with splotches of color applied like dollops of blue whipped cream to a jumpsuit and dress. And what of Rykiel's iconic knitwear? Crichton deconstructed it slightly, leaving the weave open in places on a shirt and skirt in mint green and a poncho in gentle pink.
Photos courtesy of Sonia Rykiel
Yohji Yamamoto has confessed that he doesn't really care whether or not anyone understands his work, and that nonchalance was apparent during his multilayered outing for Spring 2013. There were, by turns, references to military dressing, Amelia Earhart, Christian Dior's Bar jacket, and the kinds of light sarongs normally reserved for casual days at the beach — paired, of course, with asymmetrical blazers in a dark gray metallic fabric.
That asymmetry, which has always been at the top of Yamamoto's list of talking points, was present throughout this collection, injecting the rather reserved color palette of gray, khaki, black, and cream with interest.
Of course being an individual and making clothes that will sell aren't mutually exclusive. Yamamoto offered a few solid answers to the trends of the moment by way of a variety of sheer pieces and a few tops that showed off the models' midriffs.
Sometimes a hard-working girl just needs to get on a plane and spend a few days underneath a palm tree in Mustique, and from the looks of things that's exactly the girl Vanessa Bruno was thinking of when she designed her Spring 2013 collection. The suiting was professional and appropriately androgynous, but what got tongues wagging were the day dresses. A restrained palette of rose, beige, and cream dominated in these pieces, and a few were accented with silvery sequins or ostrich feathers that exaggerated movement. But the cuts were body conscious in a languid way — almost as languid as a well-deserved vacation.
Belgian husband-wife duo An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx brought major drama to the Parisian runway with their Spring 2013 collection. All their models strutted with either black or white sheer hats that were tilted to the side, covering their faces. Some even had their faces painted gold. Leather, asymmetrical hemlines, and fringe were standouts in the show. Black, white, red, turquoise, and gold were the colors of choice, while fabrics ranged from leather and satin to silk and cotton. The most controversial moment happened when a model walked down the runway wearing nothing but white trousers and peep-toe boots — up top, her chest was painted gold in the shape of a strapless top.
The space where Maison Martin Margiela showed its Spring 2013 collection was made to look like a typically luxurious Paris salon, fireplaces and wainscoting included, all of which was covered up with white plastic sheeting. Only the ornate chandeliers hung from the ceiling poked through the material. The clothes themselves were a bit more direct, and almost simplistic save for a few jarring pieces and treatments designed, perhaps, to remind the audience that it was at a Margiela show. An oversize gray t-shirt, for example, skimmed the ground in the gown section of the show, following some elegant black exercises in evening dresses. The show's straightforward bent might have something to do with its much-anticipated collaboration with H&M, but whether the capsule will contain any cape-like navy blue dresses made of crinoline remains to be seen.
Isabel Marant is a designer with a sense of humor. When asked about her Spring 2013 collection a few days ago, she exclaimed "It's ugly!" before launching into a hearty chuckle. It was a disarming outburst, one that left this reporter totally taken aback and, to be honest, totally charmed.
"No no, it's a bit of Elvis in Hawaii, and a bit of Jane Birkin and Brigitte Bardot in St.-Tropez around the late '60s and early '70s," Marant reassured. A few days later as the first model took to the runway and Elvis blared from the speakers at the actual show, those references were utterly clear.
A tropical leaf print in graphic black and white dominated the first looks. It decorated vacation-ready silhouettes such as one-shouldered minidresses, tie-front rompers, and '50s-shaped bandeau swimsuits. A bit of red embroidery helped the pieces to really pop. Then it was on to a boho paisley print in purple, red, and blue; that turned up on bandeau dresses, lace-up peasant tops, and flared trousers. There was also plenty of that modern Western thing that the designer is wont to do and does so well: on first glance, a series of scallop-hemmed tunics and tiered ruffled skirts appeared to be done in a down-home cotton eyelet; on closer inspection, those eyelet dots were actually mini bronze studs. All said and done, it was a lineup that's sure to keep Marant's legion of fans well-outfitted next season — and there was nothing ugly about it.
No one ever said ushering in a new era would be easy. But at Thursday's Spring 2013 Christian Dior show in Paris, Raf Simons made it look nearly effortless. And after 18 months of scandal, drama, and anticipation, that's really no small feat. Just imagine the pressure Simons must have felt.
Not that it showed. Simons is a designer who knows himself and trusts his aesthetic, so this was a collection that felt confident, elegant, and controlled. Blazers, dresses, and even ball gowns came in shapes that were pared-down and wearable, while fabrics like iridescent nylon and tech lace-mesh added just a hint of futurism. But for all his modern minimalism, Simons is also a designer who possesses a remarkable ability for exploring and reworking the past. His understanding of Dior's archives was obvious in July with his initial Couture offering, and, let's face it, it was obvious last season with his breathtaking swan song at Jil Sander, too. "People think Christian Dior was about constriction, and technically, with the New Look's corseting, it was," Simons said backstage. "But in a psychological sense, it was about liberating women, allowing them to be romantic again, and to fantasize about their image." With Simons at the helm, it's safe to say that Dior is well on track to being liberated too.