A Thought for Fashion

A Blog for all Your Fashion Thoughts by George Fracasse

Chanel, Carb-Free: Fall 2014

Grocery shopping? In your gym clothes? It may seem entirely passé, but only Karl Lagerfeld’s infinite brand of creativity could conjure up such a spectacle for Chanel’s Fall 2014 collection.

I say brand because Chanel is a global brand, with a global reach that rivals that of many of its just as old competitors. They also have global money to play with, which meant that this season, the Grand Palais was converted into a Chanel grocery store. What could be better than showing a collection in a grocery store filled with Chanel branded products: Chanel pain grillé, Cambon Jambon and Coco Chocó biscuits (even Coco Carbone, a necessity for the most fashionable of drivers). Why limit yourself to clothes when you can have your Chanel carbs and eat them too?


But as always you can’t wear a set, and it’s just one facet in this gem of a Chanel collection. Beyond that was an interesting idea that toyed with grocery stores as a place to people watch, being a melting pot of rich and young, old and new, bright and dark, and commercial and exclusive. Commercial in the sense that this grocery store offered a lot of great ideas, exclusive in the sense that after all the pomp and circumstance, this is a Chanel show.

Chanel’s couture collections have a tendency to foreshadow their prêt-a-porter siblings. It was no surprise that the tightly corseted silhouette Lagerfeld showed back in January teamed with sports-couture sneakers resurfaced today. It made a lot of sense: women don’t shop for groceries in stilettos. It also seemed tactical, as sneakers are a super hot commodity in the world of street style.

It started with an array of après gym shoppers lead by Lagerfeld muse Cara Delevingne. Leggings worn with matching cropped tops and billowing 80s sleeved tweed jackets were accompanied by matching trainers. It set the pace for the rest of this 78 piece collection.


Next was the workingwoman, who wore a Carhartt inspired jumpsuit in a fantastical orange citrus tweed. Tightly nipped at the waist, the proportions were daring and fresh; a softer yet still powerful pink tweed suit that followed rivaled the practicality of that orange jumpsuit, however.


The futurist shopper wore oversized jackets with matching, heavily embroidered pants or holographic metallic leggings, offering a cool aspect to the show. Not to mention the new Chanel accessory du jour: shopping baskets iconically interlaced with leather clad chain links for the most discerning of shoppers.


The classical, preppy Chanel woman. Perfectly perched in her tan, dropped shoulder zip twin set with burgundy braid. Perhaps inspired by peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that are just as iconic as Chanel. As for the prep, check out her sneaker boots.


The gallery girl modernist, with her abstractly colorful skirt with black line color blocking and a bright green jacket lined in a matching fabric, was the most modern and chic. Delicious is a word that comes to mind too, especially with regard to the faux candy necklace she was wearing.


The minimalist was the most striking aspect against all the excess: shown in quilted navy, the simpleness of a zippered shift dress and a swing top worn with a zip front skirt resonated as the most wearable aspect of the show.


Next, the woman who lunches, her driver carrying her Chanel shopping bags. The epitome of Parisian elegance in a matching Strawberry milkshake pink tweed suit, right down to the shoes. We’d get hungry too after the shopping spree she went on.


The gothic, music obsessed punk rocker, clad in a leather frock with red trim that riffed on the couture silhouette Lagerfeld showed back in January. Equally raunchy was a leather look paired with matching headphones, quietly poking fun at a pearl necklace from the spring 2014 collection that looked eerily similar to headphones.


And finally, the evening girl, off to a soiree with a lover, remembering that she inadvertently forgot a last minute necessity for her night out. Like liquid silver, one of her dresses flared out with a small mermaid hem, the other resembling pink chain link with an explosion of strawberry shortcake hued frills spraying out from the décolletage, pockets, and hem of her dress.


It was a lot to take in, but at the end of a very serious and often boring fashion month, it offered and lot of life and a lot of fun. Without the guilt!


The 100 Word Review: Lanvin Fall 2014

Texture, movement, darkness. These are the themes that resonated in Lanvin’s Fall 2014 collection. Alber Elbaz played with an alluring militant theme that wasn’t entirely obvious, but incredibly important.

 Hats adorned with marabou feathers were paired with ruffled skirts and frayed tweed jackets. This season, the tweed was oversized and nubby, shown in many sophisticated incarnations.



 That feeling echoed throughout strong leather dresses, lax silk dresses, luxurious fur jackets, and skirts with enough flounce for even the danciest of wearers.



The ending contrasted the staunchness of the beginning: fluid, poetic fringe dresses offered a cool factor.


 The takeaway: darkened glamour.

The 100 Word Review: Anthony Vaccarello Fall 2014

Anthony Vaccarello unabashedly celebrates the female form. Known for sexy, sometimes unwearable cocktail hour approved frocks, his Fall 2014 collection offered a menswear inspired break that retained the brands energetic sex appeal.


Often shown in gray and black, pants laid low on the hip and worn with fur bomber jackets offered a wearable approach to Vaccarello’s appeal.


A patent Twizzler red bomber jacket worn with a matching turtleneck and mini dress was easily the freshest update to Vacerollo’s muse.


Equally covetable, mini dresses adorned with triangular cutouts on the bust often exploded with silver metallic ruffles.


The takeaway: sexual sophistication.

The 100 Word Review: Emilio Pucci

Peter Dundas has reinvigorated the House of Pucci to its days of former glory. Gone are overt references to print and in its place is a brand of Italian jet-set glamour. For Fall 2014, his Italian muse met his Nordic roots.

 Pucci mini dresses were updated with silver stud embroideries, returning at the end of the show in goldwork embellished dresses.



 Wintery ponchos with Nordic intarsia seemed sexy with leather jodhpurs.


 The chicest elements were jarring luxurious velvet tuxedos worn over a complimentary silk blouse. You can only imagine where they’ll be worn.


 The takeaway: start looking for a jet.

Present Perfect: Prada Fall 2014

It’s not uncommon for Miuccia Prada to employ foreshadowing into her menswear shows. In this case, we got a taste of what the Prada woman could expect back in January, when leather 70s inspired shirtdresses and fur jackets in jarring colors came into the mix of her unfussy men’s Fall 2014 collection. She called that Act 1. With Act 2, a more dramatic and sensual side is revealed to the Prada woman that is conspicuously readable as capable and smart.

 The antithesis to Prada’s wildly ornate Spring 2014 show, a simple black silk shirtdress over a black turtleneck opened the show with ease. A simple idea it was, but made entirely sinewy by a silk necktie, offering a mannish, gender-bending edge in true Prada form that was prevalent throughout the collection.


 Long, lean 70s silhouettes ruled on the runway, accompanied with oversized double-breasted blazers, their shoulders dropping off the wearer and squaring off the fluidity of sheer organza dresses, adding a sense of mystery to this darkly powerful show.


 And in a season so focused on outerwear, Prada offered the most imaginatively commercial jackets in a sea of competitors: leather coats trimmed in jewel tone colored shearling played nicely with a complimentary sea of silk dresses. It was just the right amount of wrong.


 Those silk shirtdresses also rendered a grand sense of sophistication to the often addlepated mess of oddly placed sheer organza shift dresses trimmed with thin metallic straps. They were an interesting idea, but realistically untranslatable for the consumer.


However, they also worked in a way that only Prada could get them to: they made the good stand out. Structured dresses done in wild 1920s Art Deco prints, with their thin metallic harness straps, seemed like a chic way to go in comparison to their sheer, often oddly trimmed in fur mates.


 That was another important aspect to this Prada show, print, as it is in any Prada show. Like an intriguing conversation with an old friend, Prada’s seemingly retired brand of 90s quirk is revived for a new generation of people looking to dress intellectually. The archived prints that established Prada as a house planted firmly in the now of the 90s seemed almost more relevant today than it did yesterday. Perhaps that’s because of how much broader Prada has become as a brand. Surely, brand visibility is a good thing, but so many lose their identity on the ride there. Thankfully, Prada is a house with identity planted firmly on the ground.

The 100 Word Review: Fendi Fall 2014

Drones filmed today’s Fendi show, Cara Delevingne opening the Fall 2014 collection in a luxed up parka. In her left hand a Fendi Buggies version of Karl Lagerfeld dangled, sure to fly off the shelves come September.


 That spirit of comedic sophistication meant rounded shoulders with fur insets and elongated zip front skirts.


 A forest of brown, black, navy, and white, occasionally injected with pink and orange into geometric camouflage prints, elevated boxy jackets and mini-skirts, as did the inclusion of chic leather tunics.


 Fresh orchids became brooches, accessible for all. Those fur jackets, not quite.


 The takeaway: unfurgettable chic.

The 100 Word Review: Simone Rocha Fall 2014

Known for dramatically oversized silhouettes, Simone Rocha focused on the punkier side of colonial chic. Waists were lowered and attention was given to the idea of pannier dresses, embroidered with dense crystals and pearls.


Python coats received similar treatment; their giant ruffles impractically placed at the elbow. Cunning like a snake, but also bitingly smart.


The show took a turn for the intellectual sweetness Rocha’s known for. A pink frock in open windowpane check felt modern with an embroidered drop waistline panel, while the inclusion of jarring tartan became sweet against soft ruffles and embroidery.


The takeaway: abdicate boring.

The 100 Word Review: Christopher Kane Fall 2014

Ask yourself: would you wear a cropped garbage bag puffer vest accompanied with a black mini dress? No? Think again, because it’s the type of quirky utilitarian chic that only Christopher Kane could cook up.


 In classic Kane fashion, his bitingly sweet knits in bright linden green had a striking toughness poised next to the austerity rendered in his laser cut garbage-chic skirts.


 But it’s not all sensible: ribbon candy sleeves? Yes, please. Does it get any more delicious?


 It does?! Kane’s genius is again revealed in his 3D geometry lesson of frothy organza frocks.


 Kane’s message: see things differently.

Cloudy With a Chance of Chic

Marc Jacobs has brought us train stations. He’s brought us pastel carousels, fantastical paper castles and latex bondage rooms. For his Fall/Winter 2014 show, however, Jacobs took us to the clouds with a collection that was as ephemeral as it was focused.

 Arguably, the set to a Marc Jacobs show is equally important to that of its fabricated counterpart. This season was no exception. Marshmallowy clouds installed by long time collaborator Stefan Beckman hung from the ceiling of the Armory, casting an uncanny glow down the runway. The real message here wasn’t in the clouds, but revealed in Jessica Lange’s voiceover of “Happy Days Are Here Again”, the Depression-era song that Judy Garland invited a young Barbra Streisand to sing on her show in 1963. That too made for an important impact: the clouds over Marc Jacobs’ body of work have been firmly pushed out of the way, and happy days are indeed here again.

 And there’s a reason for that. His first collection since his departure as creative director at Louis Vuitton, a position he held for over a decade and a half, the idea of clarity seemed to resonate within the clothing he showed. Simple, but certainly not minimalist. Not only that, he’s no longer responsible for his younger line Marc by Marc Jacobs, whose recent stellar outing by design dream team Luella Bartley and Katie Hillier proved to be its own important entity.

 It started with stripping away the elaborate embellishment from last season and working with a clean, elongated silhouette. Often done in brown, tan, pewter, a light, dusty blue and the palest of pinks, the shapes were as simple as tank dresses, often worn with knit pants that pooled around sneakers or instead mid-calf boots.



At times they morphed into long sleeve tunics or henley style dresses, sometimes worn with a similar knit pant or matching skirt. They had a strong sense of emotion, but also of the future. With their pastel bobs cut perfectly square to the face and accentuated with a fabric headband, the models seemed to belong to some future metropolis of fashion robots on planet chic.


The best part of the show was the fur bomber jackets done in pastel dégradé that effortlessly mimicked a winter sunset. Worn with a slit skirt and a long scarf, they had the same vivacity as some of Jacobs’ earlier work for not only his own house, but also Vuitton.


 And if the embodiment of sophistication was ever present in a dress, then it was in the hand-painted organza ruffles laid delicately onto bitterly sweet dresses. They offered a nice, relaxed feel to the shows intense focus.


And without any effort, they summed up the show perfectly: onwards and upwards!

Convenience Couture

 It’s too often said that haute couture is a dying art. With few designers on the couture calendar, it’s no wonder that so many in the fashion stratosphere join in on the cliché bandwagon of dubbing couture irrelevant. The new focus is instead on gratifying the salability factor of prêt-a-porter and the accessory of the moment, an entry-level way for anyone to partake in the fashion conversation.

 Fashion folk have instead placed relevancy on what happens in the streets, generally outside a fashion show. In 2014, much doesn’t seem entirely relevant about the enormous evening dresses and towering stilettos so commonly associated with couture. That’s not to say that those things don’t have their place, but the focus is now on the streets, not the ballroom. The fête of today happens where the aforementioned accessories and prêt-a-porter are greeted by an onslaught of street style photographers and fanatics, desperately trying to have their “personal style” immortalized by photographers like the indigenous Scott Schuman from The Sartorialist and Tommy Ton of Style.com.

 It’s also no wonder that the few designers practicing couture are feeling the push of a relatively new movement: designer sneakers. It must have started when someone decided to wear a colorful pair of New Balance sneakers (the current sneaker du jour) with their cropped suit to a show, because for the last 3 years, street style photographers have captured some of the most important faces in fashion donning the most ostentatious sneakers available.


 And the proof is most certainly in the pudding: Karl Lagerfeld for Hogan, Raf Simons and Rick Owens respective collaborations with Adidas, Riccardo Tisci’s upcoming excursion with Nike, and my personal favorite, Phoebe Philo for Celine’s knockoff of the classic skate slip on sneaker from Vans, perfectly illustrate the urge for the designer sneaker. It’s very literally convenience couture.

 But perhaps it’s not what the sneaker is, but what it represents: youthfulness, agility, and relaxation. Youthfulness in the rebirth of couture, agility in the casual approach taken to such an old art, and relaxation in regard to the mood designers Raf Simons of Dior and Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel established at their couture presentations for the Spring/Summer 2014 season.

 Simons yet again exercised his ability to make couture youthful, while still retaining the expertise and maturity that is needed as a couturier. The key here wasn’t so much the construction, but the discussion about lightness and fabric innovation, usually resulting in dresses slashed or cut open. Worn with a couture-sneaker hybrid, they hung loosely off the body and closely resembled lattice, even when layered with additional fabric underneath. Even the sleeves of jackets seemed to employee a wider, bell-shaped silhouette that somehow seemed less restrictive than prior seasons.



 At Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld left history firmly planted in the past and like the house’s founder, stripped away all excess: no jewelry, no hats and no overt or complicated silhouettes. But it wasn’t all in homage to the heritage of Chanel, and that’s what felt modern about it. Most obvious was the fact that this season, Dior and Chanel switched places, but maintained striking sensibilities through the footwear they employed. The corsetry that Coco cast off almost a century ago for ease and movement seemed to be replaced this season by the rigorous underpinnings of Dior’s strictly corseted garments, yet at Dior, fluidity and freedom ruled supreme. The silhouette at Chanel was simple and fresh: three pieces, a cropped top, corset, and skirt, generally in an array of pastels, and worn with a matching sneaker. The models echoed that sensibility as well: fresh-faced, skipping, and running down glistening stairs with an uncanny resemblance to that of 31 rue Cambon, smiling at the audience.



 While the clothing was great, the real focus at these two shows was the sneaker. It was a relief (for the models, too) to see something as old as couture take a nod from the streets, and for lack of a better term, “ease up a bit.” The price tags certainly won’t be obtainable for most, but the inclusion of sneakers made it seem so much more possible, and that may just be the best idea yet.