Jil by Raf

March 29, 2015

by Gracia Ventus

Jil Sander

Jil SanderJil Sander

Jil SanderJil Sander

Jil Sander

Wearing: Jil Sander coat and shoes; Zara shirt and trousers

Jil Sander Deauville Scuba coat from FW2009 and sculptural d'Orsay from SS2009

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To Fit, Or Not to Fit? A Look into Fall/Winter 2015 Shows

March 12, 2015

by Gracia Ventus

A few days ago I read an op-ed piece on whether new designers should fit with the brand ethos of historic houses, and my answer is now a resounding yes.

I am able to say this after seeing Galliano's latest attempt in Margiela.

We buy into a label because we trust that it produces what we want at any point in time, and our loyalty grows when the label continuously meet and/or exceed our expectations. Over time we know what to expect from our favourite designers, and whether the strength of our liking ebbs and flows according to seasonal shows, chances are we would stick around for a long time. This is why Rick Owens and Comme des Garçons have garnered such a huge fanbase. Despite the continuous evolution of their aesthetics, their roots remain in the same place.

So when a designer swoops in to do a complete overhaul of a label without respecting its hefty legacy, chances are the fans will feel betrayed. I know I do. I held my judgment regarding the Artisanal show because it was a little premature for me to form an opinion. There were some hits amongst a sea of misses, but overall the attempt wasn't disappointing. This RTW show was Galliano exerting his own universe, squeezing out every bit of ooze that was left from the Margiela of old. Yes I could see he was referencing Margiela's signature creations, such as the '1997 dress form' dress, or his heavy use of pinstripes. But all of these seemed so superficial. The Margiela universe was anonymous, linear, austere and at times grimy amidst a sea of luxurious fabrics. All of that gave way to clownish makeup, gaudy adornment and excessive theatrics without any substance.

Margiela FW2015
Margiela's 'Dress Form' vs Galliano's reinterpretation

This seems like déjà vu all over again, first with Hedi Slimane running amok in YSL. Like Slimane with his clearly-defined yet outdated and rigid aesthetics, Galliano is certainly a master in his own right, but he's not mastering Margiela at all. Margiela is like sushi. It looks deceptively simple to make but you don't perfect it by adding unnecessary ingredients.

Margiela FW2015
Galliano for Marc Ja.. I mean Margiela

Unlike Galliano, Alexander Wang is slowly paying his dues in Balenciaga - Ghesquière's Balenciaga that is. The signature egg-shaped silhouettes have resurfaced in full force, albeit with a less space-age approach and more of Balmain's opulence in terms of texture. I have the impression that he's still walking on eggshells, trying to find a balance between implementing his own vision while referencing the archives. I am far more impressed with this season than the previous ones he's done because it feels like Ghesquière again. Maybe I just miss the latter tremendously. This is not to say that newly-appointed designers should reference the archives heavily. Raf Simons is possibly the best example of a designer who has successfully revitalised a historic Maison with the injection of his own personal identity.

Balenciaga FW2015
Alexander Wang for Balenciaga FW2015

Speaking of someone else doing an excellent job, Chitose Abe of Sacai has delivered again. You'd think Abe would have run out of ways to dissect a garment by now but I stand corrected. She has also introduced new silhouettes to entire outfits or heritage pieces like the M-65. Of course at this point we can expect Abe to exhibit her finesse in mixing knits and tailoring in a single garment, but the manner in which she does it is always a pleasant surprise.

Sacai FW2015
Unusual silhouettes from Sacai

Sacai FW2015
Displaced seams showcased with an adept mix of materials

And then there are our old favourites.

Ann Demeulemeester, Haider Ackermann and Yohji Yamamoto stayed true to their paths. There was nothing unfamiliar presented on the table. The clothes are still beautiful and inspirational, evidently showing their respective DNA. Often that's enough to get our hearts beating.

Yohji Yamamoto FW2015
Yohji Yamamoto FW2015

On the other hand, Rick Owens's show was stunning, literally. All that gold and glitter was a fair bit of a shock when I first saw it, so much so that I thought I was looking at Gareth Pugh (who by the way rehashed his own archives, unfortunately). He reformed familiar silhouettes (FW2009 comes to mind) and exaggerated them, eg. the stomach and back flaps, while sculpting drapes in heavy fabrics. The mix of materials and colours, though not as contrasting as Sacai's, was cohesive. They actually make sense, as I scrolled and scrolled. My arms are terribly grateful for the wider sleeves he's been churning out in the last few seasons. While I wouldn't jump on that muddy tan brown yet, I find it rather fitting in this collection. Calf hair in midnight though? I'd wear and sleep on that. I wouldn't even say no to the gold sequins!

Rick Owens FW2015
Rick Owens FW2015
Rick Owens FW2015

I'd go in depth into Comme des Garçons except I simply can't. My vocabulary is not expansive enough to wax poetic about the last few collections. To me, they are an amalgamation of all that Rei has done in her entire career. Combine that with the re-released but pared down versions of her signature collections from the Comme Comme line, one begins to wonder if the end is nigh, but I hope that would be far from the truth. Should the day come when Rei decides to retire, I believe there is a team that's more than capable of protecting, respecting and continuing the label's legacy, provided if she doesn't decide to close the label.

Sadly, staying true to a brand's ethos may become a thing of the past. Despite many longtime fans' protests, designers who failed to do so seem to reap the rewards. As Alexander Fury has surmised:

"Saint Laurent’s sales have doubled during Slimane’s tenure; Moschino sales grew 7 percent last year. There’s a customer for this. Perhaps those customers don’t care whether the designers fit the label, but only whether the clothes fit them. Maybe they don’t care what the label is at all."



Big and Chunky

March 3, 2015

by Gracia Ventus

Ann Demeulemeester

Ann DemeulemeesterAnn Demeulemeester

This Ann Demeulemeester cardigan has done well in keeping me warm during my walks. Worn with Claudia Ligari wool trousers and Rick Owens boots. My middle section may resemble a hungry chtulhu but considering how toasty I was I really didn't care all that much. Comfort first when travelling, know what I mean?



Sprezz vs Fuccboi

January 25, 2015

by Gracia Ventus
Junya Watanabe
Here's me searching frantically for lunch, via W Mag

I woke up at seven in the morning - this time because of my default alarm setting (bollocks!) - still very much drunk. Not good. I have never had a hangover in my entire life because in the extremely rare instance I overdrink, my stomach will empty its contents and I go back to square one. I was determined not to break my record so I went back to bed hoping my head would recalibrate in the next couple of hours.

The night before we had a wonderful dinner together with SF affiliates and friends. I was sat with Stephanie the awesome SF marketing lady and the crew of Monitaly/Yuketen. Yuki - the founder - is a Japanese who has been living in the US for umm.. forever and has a penchant for Native American jewellery. Over the main course he regaled his adventures that included jumping off the boat and swimming across the sea. Fok didn’t believe him. I think I do.

Dinner lasted until eleven pm and I would have been happy to feel the softness of my pillow there and then. Instead I found myself joining the contingent in search for a watering hole. Under the guidance of Skoaktiebolaget’s squad we ended up at a low-key Irish bar whose peace and quiet was shattered by our not-so-sober group. Many shots were involved. I mouthed along to what I could only guess was a Swedish drinking song.

I dragged my heavy head off the pillow four hours later sans headache (yasss gurl yasss!), showered and rushed off to the Fortezza. Despite the weariness I still had enough enthusiasm to put on my tight Junya biker over a Julius mohair cardigan that kept brushing the ground. It took me thirty minutes to get dressed. No outfit decision could be made swiftly when one’s head was swimming just hours earlier.

Wearing Junya Watanabe jacket, Julius _7 cardigan, Haider Ackermann trousers, Ann Demeulemeester boots

Jasper and David were typing away on their laptops when I met them in the Press room. Good Lord I’ve written nothing yesterday. Luckily neither of them noticed the shame creeping in my head. David appeared fresh despite rocking out to 90s high school anthems last night while downing shots. Jasper gave me the impression that he had had enough of people, that and the world in general. He notified me of his intention to only work for three hours. I was more than happy to oblige, so off we went to talk to people and look at stuff.

Since the first day I’d noticed that the classic menswear stuff made up a smaller share of the Pitti line up than I thought. We explored various other halls housing all sorts of labels and aesthetics. In ‘Urban Panorama’ there were strange names like Boom Bap Wear (wut), Moonboots (literally selling moonboots, talk about hitting a niched segment), familiar ones like Converse and Superga, but best of all was Crocs. Models, loud dance music, bright lights; everything I’d associate with Paris Hilton was under that roof. I came out feeling glittery and all neon like.

These smaller venues were situated at the opposite side from the main Uomo pavilion. I noticed that the outfits of the attendees evolved significantly the further we walked away from it. Less Sprezzatura, more Fuccboi, which peaked at the ‘Unconventional’ hall. According to the Pitti guidebook, Unconventional was ‘the new project dedicated to luxury underground styles blah blah strong personality blah blah corrosive impact rule-breaking unorthodox yada yada’. Not the worst copywriting we’d come across in this event, sadly. As soon as we entered the venue my sight was assaulted by none other than Hood by fucking Air. That explained the A$AP Rocky lookalikes.


A DJ was installed near the entrance, spinning more offensively loud music. Someone should have told the organising committee that loudness doesn’t correlate with unorthodoxy and strength of personality. I pittied the designers who had to endure the racket all week long. We brushed past Hood by Air’s stand - puzzling over a giant baby pink parka emblazoned with HBA all over it (Jasper: What’s the point of this brand again?) - to check out Isabel Benenato’s next to it.

Isabel BenenatoReinhard Plank
Left - Isabel Benenato; Right - Reinhard Plank

Well here’s a familiar sight. Chunky uneven knits, oiled leathers, asymmetrical jackets, allblackerrrthing. We also spoke to a hatmaker (Reinhard Plank) or rather its representative, and a shoemaker (The Last Conspiracy), taking lots of photos in between while discussing the Owens and Wang effect. At first glance, many of the labels in this hall came across as derivatives of Rick Owens’s various lines, or the usual ‘artisanal’ culprits that one can find in PN/P. After taking a closer look, my opinion barely changed. I didn’t see it as a bad thing, they did make beautiful garments and accessories, but I wasn’t jumping out of my Ann boots either. As jaded as I was, I felt that there were one or two designers worth mentioning and I hope to do just that in a more in-depth article.

The Last Conspiracy


Shortly after we got agitated by the annoying loud music that made it difficult to have a decent conversation. We left the hall feeling mentally drained from the hubbub. That’s the thing I remember most vividly about Pitti. It was a constant onslaught on your visual and auditory senses, sucking the living energy out of you every single minute you spent within the walls of the fortress. And the huge number of people, jaysus. Every third person was inevitably jostling for your attention with their colourful suits and perfectly tucked-in gloves in the pockets, that or giant orange moon boots and skirts/butt flaps. It was a classic case of 'too much of a good thing can be bad'. As exciting as it was to see so much creativity going on in a single place, to absorb all the sights in a short period of time was overwhelming.

Sometime later we left the Fortezza, with me feeling mentally drained. To think that it was only the second day.




He was not the only one with this hat

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