Elie Saab breaks up the typical radiantly charged atmosphere of his gown-laden collections with a darker, wickeder edge. While there are plenty of stunning, sparkling gowns that plunge at the neckline and ripple in the breeze of the catwalk, there were also some moody, inky black pieces that spoke of a darker side. His collection was entitled “Urban Elegance” and this two-word description is about as befitting as any. A slinky, elongated silhouette adorned the Saab runway, but it was tempered by sweeping black capes, belted wool trenches, and slim-cut fur toppers.
When Miuccia Prada has a strong design itch she needs to scratch, it often carries over to her Miu Miu line as well. Building on the intense 70s theme of her Prada line, Miuccia favors a collection made almost entirely of pantsuits. Models were homogenized in exaggerated 70s makeup and loose, flaxen hair. Their crisp suits blended the fashion of 1970s London with the European dandyism of the late 19th century.
Marc Jacobs has an endless imagination; one that produces high concept shows for several different labels season after season. From Broadway style productions to working merry-go-rounds, Jacobs’ presentations are never predictable. However, what he does so well is blend his perspicacious vision of a collection with a show to match the mood. His theatrics were not stowed for the Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2012 runway. Instead, he built a train car, which pulled into the “station” of the Cour Carrée courtyard at the Louvre before the show. Models disembarked in flawless, retro-inspired travel attire with porters scurrying after them carrying monogrammed Louis Vuitton luggage.
There is clear movement on the Alexander McQueen runway from potentiality to actualization, like a tiny acorn turning into a majestic oak tree. What starts small soon ruptures into effusive enormity. Sarah Burton takes the idea of a “pod” opening and blossoming and recreates it for her latest McQueen collection. The effect is thrilling as it gives the show true momentum toward an explosive finale.
Valentino Red is back, and so is the brand’s iconic blending of the sweetly feminine amidst a panoply of worldly influences. Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli, building on themes from their stunning couture presentation in January, incorporate folky, peasant details in with a collection of tidy leather pieces, modest pantsuits and floor-sweeping gowns.
Hakaan’s Fall/Winter 2012 collection doesn’t cross any fashion boundaries, but it does walk right up to the edge of current seasonal trends and gives them a little push toward a more extreme style. The abundance of leather, the masculine silhouette, and the cropped trouser that have been so ubiquitous this season are given a new lease in Hakaan Yildirim’s capable hands. He ties it all together with futuristic cuts and glossy fabrics, which take a staid concept and breathe new life into it.
The Chanel runway, lined with three tons of miniature crystals and jutting with giant crystal stalagmites, was an icy, otherworldly backdrop to a show of cozy knits and enveloping tweeds. Karl Lagerfeld’s desire to blend the organic with the manmade resulted in a collection of crystal-embellished attire fused with cubist artistry. From this lofty concept, Lagerfeld was able to execute a new silhouette that pushed the layering concept to the extreme.
Yves Saint Laurent’s Fall/Winter 2012 collection is the last one Stefano Pilati will design for the legendary house of YSL. Given that Pilati has consistently been an underdog, and yet delivered shatteringly beautiful collections season after season, the news of his leaving is all the more devastating. His vision was always clear and uncompromising, and it blended the best of modernity with the storied past of the brand.
Clare Waight Keller’s second collection for Chloé blends the streets of London with posh Parisian sensibilities. The London street side, however, came off a little heavily – which may lose some fans that adore Chloe’s airy girliness. That being said, it also may attract some new clients that prefer a tougher edge.
Giambattista Valli knocked ‘em dead this season, with a collection that was big on graphic prints in shades of 70s orange, red, and tan, voluminous paneled skirts, and downtown night-owl attitude. He scales down his lofty, ambitious finery to a cooler, more wearable place, and if he decided to rest his following collections on the same themes, we’d be fine with that. This is one collection you click through saying, “Yes, yes, yes!” to every outfit. Valli gets it.