Friday, March 13, 2015

Finding the Center

On the penultimate day of Paris Fashion Week, I sat clutching my phone with the screen brightness turned all the way up and the sound turned all the way down. The bus is not the best place to watch a fashion show, but my move has stretched the time difference between myself and Europe so I do what is needed. The waiting was hard. I’ve settled into a certain routine on my early morning bus rides to work. My fingers ached to close the browser page and play with one of the apps that I often used to wake my mind up. But instead I stared at a darkened room full of people and tried to stop my eyes from drooping.

I eventually succumbed to the urge to check in on things, as if there were anything else going on at that hour. When I returned to the browser page to find the show had started, I began to think that I had landed at the wrong site somehow. The clothes looked different. Not bad. Far from bad. Just different.

The Valentino of Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli has never had the flash bang of the brand in its first iteration. But a shift in message isn’t unexpected after a change in creative leadership. The Dior of Dior wasn’t the Dior of Saint Laurent wasn’t the Dior of Galliano isn’t the Dior of Simon. After the early bumps that such changes often bring (I was, and still am, a fan of Alessandra Facchinetti’s work at the brand and loved her one and only couture collection), things have settled into a rhythm. I'd gotten used to a degree of change, a little to the left or a little to the right, that didn't lead one all that far from their now well-established center, a center filled with romance. And so in its groggy state, my mind expected to see something that instantly clicked as current Valentino.

Instead there was geometry, trigonometry, in stark white and black.

Although the Paris collections' obsession with those two non-colors was not new, I hadn’t expected to see quite so much of it here. The clouds and and rainbows and hearts and galaxies of recent collections still floated around my head muddying the waters.

But I liked it. Liked the hard edge that triangles and stripes can bring that paisleys and flowers cannot. The geometry eventually gave way to multiple threads. Dresses made of strips of lace, not wholly unexpected, in colors suggesting something murky and a bit sinister.

The flowers and galaxies and butterflies eventually found their way into the proceedings but with a darker mood to them.

And finally there were pieces so austere that they seemed to reference the church. But that wasn't what I saw, or maybe it wasn't what I wanted to see. I saw a kind of armor that played

The romance-filled center was still there. It had merely been tempered with a far darker element.

The shows of the last day of Paris Fashion Week all happened long before my morning bus ride, so it was still images that informed my opinion of the Louis Vuitton collection. I'd always enjoyed the drama of Marc Jacobs' tenure at the brand. Each season proving a 180 degree shift from the last. But Nicolas Ghèsquiere has taken a different tack. There is a through line, a growing vision of what he wants the brand to be and the type of woman who wears those clothes.

It's all cool sophistication that references a Parisian style without shouting it from the rooftop.

It has been different work from that which he produced during his tenure at Balenciaga where he sometimes followed a tack similar to that of Jacobs, rockers one season, women from a future not yet imagined in another. However, near the end the themes seemed to be converging.

But in his short time at Louis Vuitton, dramatic swings have been nowhere sight.

Fall 2014

Resort 2015

Spring 2015

Pre-Fall 2015

A center.

Photos via

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