A Thought for Fashion

A Blog for all Your Fashion Thoughts by George Fracasse

My Time with Jean Paul Gaultier

It was 1999 when I first experienced fashion. At the time, I didn’t even know what fashion was. I had heard people mention it, but as a 9 year nothing really matters.  I suppose, however, that every child is different.

 It was really the subliminal message I got from the music video that affected me though. Who was this woman and why was her face so noticeably white? What was that red thing with baggy sleeves she was wearing? And why were people carrying around these giant bags of water in this cold, clinical interior? All I knew is that I wasn’t supposed to be watching MTV and that I’d probably never see the video again, at least for a few years.

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 It started to all come together when I was in high school. I had just started to really get into Madonna as a freshman. Confessions on a Dancefloor came out and I was hooked. It prompted me to delve deeper into her world. I discovered my second favorite album, Ray of Light soon after. When it came out in 1997, it was the antithesis to the overly sweet pop albums that ruled the airwaves. It was a bit grungy and totally reflective, even for Madonna. And one song very literally brought me back to that time as a 9 year old.

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 I found the video online and I instantly remembered it. Everything about it was familiar: the beat, the lyrics and most importantly, what they were wearing. As a 9 year old it must have really impacted me. The song was “Nothing Really Matters” and now as a teenager the context made sense: the bags of water were infants, she was a geisha wearing a kimono, and the music video, while disturbing, was backlash to overt materialism. Needless to say, it was added to my iPod.

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 Fast-forward to November 2013. I’m 23 and I’ve waited well over a year to see The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk at the Brooklyn Museum. Conceived by model-turned-curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot of the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, the exhibit ran in Montreal, traveling to Dallas, San Francisco, Madrid, Rotterdam, Stockholm and in 2014, London. Finally, the exhibit had reached its east coast home until February 23, 2014.

 We arrive promptly at 10:45 A.M., 15 minutes before the show even opens. I highly recommend you do too. I rush to the door and luck out: I’m first in line. It’s freezing out and thankfully, the security guard lets me into the holding room early, noticing my eager anticipation while doing his best to mask his opinion of one very giddy fashion enthusiast.

 It’s finally 11:00. He lets me in and to my surprise I’m the first in line to purchase tickets. I pay my $15 and sprint for the elevators, wishing they could move faster to the fourth floor. The doors open and I follow the signs, past the banal American art, to be surrounded by couture dreams. The security girls check my bracelet and I’m in. There he is: Jean Paul Gaultier, wearing a mink sailor shirt, he completely lives up to my expectations. I walk past the timeline he conceived outlining his career to finally see what I’ve waited 2 years to see: three-dimensional interactive animated mannequins, their faces projected onto otherwise conventional mannequins. It should be noted, however, that nothing is quite conventional about a designer who combines gender, culture and history to create some of the worlds most important haute couture.

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 Upon entering the exhibit, you are greeted by a solid blue maritime screen in the initial gallery entitled “The Odyssey.” The room toys with Gaultier’s obsession with the matelot, the French term for sailor. Gaultier loves to take classics and turn them on their head: his reincarnations of the basic navy and white striped sailor top worn by French sailors and fishermen have become a defining trait in his work. As iconic as Louis Vuitton’s monogram or the Hermes Birkin, the Breton stripe sailor shirt has become synonymous with Maison Gaultier.

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Behind you stands a mermaid on coral crutches. One mannequin wears the most incredible corset made of oyster shells, her mermaid skirt made of enough sequins to make you a little dizzy. The couture is from his spring-summer 2008 collection, one of Gaultier’s best.

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 You may notice one thing in particular in this gallery, however: the crying mannequins. Featuring religious themed haute couture from spring-summer 2007, which takes its inspiration from the Virgin Mary, the dresses are the epitome of what it means to be considered couture. One dress in particular is crocheted by Claudia Ortiz-Buritica and features metal plates engraved with icons of saints, as well as a holographic breastplate tile that moves with the viewer.

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An in-house artist at Maison Gaultier, as all of his vendors are, she was featured in the 2009 documentary The Day Before by Loïc Prigent, in which she crocheted an embroidered crocodile dress for the haute couture fall-winter 2010-11 show (that dress is featured later in the exhibit, specifically in the last room. It’s a must see).

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A number of looks from the documentary are also featured throughout the exhibit. Make sure you don’t miss a white macramé dress from the same collection worn by Kylie Minogue in her video for “Like a Drug.” It’s the definition of amazing.

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 Next you enter a black room that discusses Gaultier’s youth and his obsession with the female anatomy and corsetry (you’ll notice his teddy bear, of which he enhanced with newspaper breasts).

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But there’s one thing that stands out in the far left of the room: a blush pink, quilted wall that looks as though it came straight out of some fabled Parisian boudoir. And there in that boudoir padded room is arguably the most iconic piece of couture of the 20th century: Madonna’s corset from her third tour, “Blond Ambition.” It’s no shock that the enfant terrible of fashion had a close relationship with Madonna. If you knew Madonna in the 90s then you knew who designed the conical brassiere that defined Madonna as much as her music did. She sang “Express Yourself” in it and was threatened by Canadian police during “Like a Virgin” because of it. I sped by Beyonce’s tour costumes and a corset made of wheat, a sign of good luck in French couture (aptly named “George”) to have my picture happily snapped with it. It is undeniably the highlight of my year. Both provocateurs, she helped him as much as he helped her.

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 One gallery, “Punk Cancan”, is decked out in graffiti walls and features his work broken down into sections: punk, denim and his obsession with the human body (be warned: there is nudity). In the center of the room is a giant rotating runway featuring some of his most iconic punk inspired looks: The infamous cancan dress from haute couture spring-summer 2011 and my personal favorite look, featuring a model decked out literally in head to toe houndstooth. Featured in his spring-summer 2007 prêt-a-porter 30th Anniversary Show (the look was originally debuted in 1991), it was exciting to finally see it in person. Some of his edgier couture and prêt-a-porter from the early to late 90s is also displayed, featuring elaborately beaded skirts and tops that render themselves incomprehensible in production and mastery. It’s in this room that the London punk rocker meets the Parisian couture client in an effortless manner.

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 My favorite room dealt with the erotic Gothicism loved by Gaultier that frequently occurs in his work. Entitled “Skin Deep”, the room features a narcissistic male mannequin dressed in an elaborate cock feathered corset from Gaultier’s “The Modern Man Collection 1996-7”, in which he introduced the idea of haute couture for men, true to his gender bending roots. The mannequin is having a discussion with his reflection in regard to his appearance and the preconceived notions of gender and their affect on the way we look. The takeaway was simple: “Your image is a game. Be fluid and free.” It was enough to move me to tears, as was the costume worn by Madonna to perform “Future Lovers” in on her “Confessions Tour.”

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 It’s no secret that Gaultier’s muses are equally important as the seamstresses that create his clothing. The gallery “Metropolis” focuses on Gaultier’s work in costuming movies, music videos and various performers. Beth Ditto of the Gossip, Amy Winehouse and Neneh Cherry are just a few examples of an endless list of inspiration for Gaultier. The dresses each wore on the runway are equally important. It just happens to be that Madonna is more important, but maybe it’s because I like her so much. Or maybe because of a screen projecting the music video for “Nothing Really Matters.” Jean Paul Gaultier designed the costumes for the video. It meant that I’ve been a fan of Gaultier since I was 9, a lot longer than I had expected. It was quite a shocking revelation.

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 The final gallery, “Urban Jungle”, features clothing from various Gaultier collections. It’s an eclectic mish-mash of Geishas and flamenco dancers, Russian beauties and Masai women. One dress from haute couture fall-winter 1997-8 features a hand beaded leopard skin dress that took 1060 hours to complete. From a distance it looks like fur, but it’s not. In this room you’ll also find an Indian meets Marie Antoinette wedding dress, complete with a feathered veil and jewel encrusted corset from couture fall-winter 2002-3. You will need a lot of time to take in this room. It’s a complete sensory overload, but the good kind.

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 If anything, I suggest you take your time at this show. As much time as you possibly can manage. Personally, one visit won’t do it. There is a lot to take in and the crowds make it difficult to read and really get up close and personal with every theme in the show. But if you take your time, you may just discover something you never knew about your relationship with fashion. I know I did…

The Best Accessories of Spring/Summer 2014

Accessories perform double duties. Like a good friend, not only do they serve practical purposes, like holding our personal belongings and dealing with our baggage, but they also make us look and feel good. It’s been said so many times that it’s become an enormous cliché, but the right accessory really can transform an outfit. And what’s even better is that designers are finally offering more of the most unique and enticing accessories with each season, offering us the capability to express ourselves with greater accessorized capability. Here, we count down the 10 most lust worthy accessories of Spring/Summer 2014.

 10. Feathers that Tickle the Sole…

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He may have recently been appointed as Creative Director to flamboyantly iconic (or ironic) Elsa Schiaparelli, but Marco Zanini left us with some of the most over the top shoes before leaving Rochas. This delicious pastel python mule makes no apologies for its chicness: decked out in the most delicate of marabou feathers, you definitely won’t be dusting the floors in this smashing pair. Rochas; rochas.com

 9. Mellow Yellow gets an Update

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Versace isn’t a house known to not love a good platform and this shoe is no exception. Taking it’s cues from what can only be described as a bubbly robot with a thing for bondage, this shoe has springtime sexiness written all over it. Versace; versace.com

 8. The Web of Lady Dior

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Raf Simons is not only revamping Dior’s 21st century aesthetic values in his prêt-à-porter, but also working on reinventing some of the house classics. For Spring/Summer 2014 the iconic Lady Dior bag gets a cool makeover in a web-like multicolored python that is anything but subtle. Dior; dior.com

 7. Singing Canary

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Miuccia Prada always gives an intellectual edge to everything she touches, and this bag is no exception. Riffing off the jewel-encrusted socks she sent down the runway, this bag features a turn lock mechanism on the top flap of the bag that is totally ladylike. Where does it get its edge? Canary gem encrusted shaped stones that offer a unique twist to this timeless bag. Prada: prada.com

 6. I’m Going to Need to Cuff you…

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Know for her outlandish jewelry, Delfina Delettrez, heiress to the Fendi dynasty, delivers with this totally unique earring. Let’s break it down: the pearl is the actual earring, which goes into your pierced ear. The two smaller stones are ear cuffs that attach to the outer lobe of your ear. And the giant stone that hangs down? That’s what get’s you noticed… Delfina Delettrez; delfinadelettrez.com

 5. Made for a God…

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As if made for the Greek god Hermes, these sandals will be sending all the right messages. Encrusted with the chicest of jewels and detailed with bronze and gold leather scrolling, consider yourself warned: these sandals may just give you wings. Dolce and Gabbana; dolcegabbana.com

 4. Obsession Worthy

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Named after Gabrielle Chanel’s lover, Arthur “Boy” Capel, this timeless and utterly chic bag is entirely lust-worthy, especially in this fruity citrus color for Spring/Summer 2014. Karl Lagerfeld took an artistic approach to this iconic bag, rendering it as a must have for any Coco diehard. Chanel; chanel.com

 3. A Shoe Made for Dancing

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Give us gold, rhinestones and patent leather in one shoe and we will always be an instant fan. This caged bootie is no exception. We expect a lot of girls wiggling the night away in this pair from Balmain. Balman; balmain.com

 2. Here Kitty Kitties…

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The Alexander McQueen knuckle clutch has been a staple amongst McQueen fans for a very long time, and this season it gets an instant update from quite a ferocious jaguar planted firmly atop it’s black and white striped python skin. This is one cat that may need a serious leash… Alexander McQueen; alexandermcqueen.com

 1. Sports Couture

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Dior and Raf Simons; a match made in shoe heaven. Simons gets not one mention on our top 10 list, but 2. This shoe is all Simons in aesthetic values, but totally Dior in house codes: a collage of sporty and sweet, this shoe features an athletic nod to Dior’s obsession with flowers in the edgiest manner possible. Dior; dior.com

Deee-Liteful and Deee-Gorgeous: Lady Miss Kier

Most people have heard of this infallible woman because of an iconic song her band recorded that rendered them a number one hit. Some have heard of her because of the iconic look she created for herself, subsequently effecting the current 90s revival that has taken over the music and fashion industries. Others, however, know her because she is the true definition of what it means to be a “forever icon.”

 I’m talking about legendary Kierin Magenta Kirby, better known by her stage name Lady Miss Kier, the music industries original first “lady.” Kier was the lead vocalist and creative director for good vibe inducing, deee-lightfult and deee-lovely, electro-dance pop band Deee-Lite.

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 Best known for “Groove is in the Heart”, an enormous hit in 1990 and beyond, Kier and the rest of Deee-Lite instantly became New York music royalty. Their work was set against the backdrop of a New York City that had the most incredible amount of gritty integrity offered by authentic artists, performers and designers who broke conventional rules of gender, sex and overall appeal. Deee-Lite brushed shoulders with the likes of Club Kids Michael Alig and James St. James, fellow icons like Diane Brill and RuPaul, and fashion designers like the wildly important Thierry Mugler, who instantly gravitated towards Kier and her distinctive style.

 Kier moved to New York City in 1982 at the age of 19 to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology, studying textile and fashion design. Kier go-go danced in nightclubs to support herself financially, which lead her to meet Ukrainian expatriate DJ Dmitry Brill. Brill would eventually place an order for silver platform boots and a glittery, blue spacesuit for performing in from Kier. The two hit it off, so much so they began dating, and with the addition of Japanese DJ Towa Tei, formed Deee-Lite.

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 Kier developed her look in a remarkable way that made her stand out from her peers. With her flaming red bouffant, often coifed in a short, elongated bob, and dramatic triple layer cat eye, Kier was highly distinguishable. Not to mention the revival of 60s and 70s trends that greatly mirrored Dee-Lites funky disco beats. Groovy flower power prints, John Lennon-esque sunglasses, flared pants, iconic Fluevog platform heels and the most ostentatiously bright Emilio Pucci jumpsuits all contributed to Kier’s aura. But perhaps the most important aspect of her look was the thick, 60s inspired Bridget Bardot like headband that you see Kier wearing in almost every picture, which inspired a craze of copycats from Chanel to Clueless.

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 Thierry Mugler began his journey as one of the most important and dramatic designers in 1973 when he presented his first collection dubbed “Café de Paris” which drew inspiration from the café society of Paris. His clothing garnered much attention and admiration for their cut and sophistication, which was typically shown in two pieces, such as a skirt or pant suit. His work was consistently ahead of it’s time, frequently pushing into boundaries of sexual and social extravagance that had been previously uncharted by other designers.

 Mugler’s women were often presented as severe caricatures of Hollywood vixens with a flair for the dramatic. Often combining that idea with a futuristic edge, the clothing had a corseted severity with dangerously exaggerated curves that elevated his work from prêt-à-porter to haute couture. The Chambre syndicale de la haute couture, which governs haute couture in France, asked Mugler to complete his first couture collection in 1992. His work as a freelance designer in the 70s delivered to him an abundance of success and he and his contemporaries, Claude Montana and Azzedine Alaïa, ruled the look of the 80s and early to mid-90s.

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 It’s really no wonder that Mugler and Kier were a match made in music meets fashion heaven. On August 7, 1990, Deee-Lite released their first studio album, World Clique. As summer collections are shown a year in advance, Mugler had the perfect opportunity to use music from Deee-Lite’s first album at his September 1990 Spring/Summer 1991 show. The show opened with Kier cooing over the backbeat of “What is Love?” The song is so irritatingly perfect for a fashion show, with its faux-French babbling and chic, onslaught of “ooh-la-la’s” that the show was instantly elevated to that of fashion spectacle.

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 Over the speakers came Kier, proclaiming her love of Mugler, stating “I love Paris, but unfortunately, I’m stuck in New York traffic.” The clothing was equally coy. The most coveted models, Iman, Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell, graced the runway wearing the chicest, most incredibly fitted army fatigue corsets. Some models had whip stitched, corseted safari jackets that were worn with tight, PVC like spandex pants. The girls paraded down the runway to Kier exclaiming, “Mmmm how do you say? / Deee-licious, deee-loveley / Deee-lectable, deee-vine? / How do you say? / Deee-gorgeous? / Deee-with it? / Deee-groovy? / Deee-vine?” almost as if asking the audience how to speak the chicest of French.

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 Again on March 13, 1991, the fashion world got another whiff of Deee-Lite and Lady Miss Kier. This time, however, Kier in addition to DJ Dmitry took to the runway for Mugler’s Fall/Winter 1991 show. Kier modeled one of the most ironic dresses Mugler ever created and what can only be described by modern standards as a “Furby” dress. Featuring two giant eyes that Kier controlled by pulling a lever, probably sewn into the corset of the garment, she had the capability to make the dress blink and wink at the audience. It was really brought to life, however, by the smoking lips purse that she carried with great enthusiasm.

Thierry Mugler Autumn-Winter 1991-1992 Fashion Show

 Spring/Summer 1992 also included songs mixed exclusively for Mugler, like “Pussycat Meow”, which was from the bands upcoming second album Infinity Within, which would later be released on June 23, 1992. The song had a strong sexual undertone with Kier repeating “Pussycat, pussycat, pussycat, no! Pussycat, pussycat, pussycat ooh!” Deee-Lite said they were inspired by Mugler’s partial inspiration from the world of the Wild West and his infatuation with cowgirls, who made a number of appearances by way of tightly corseted, fringed out models. Kier and DJ Dmitry enacted the tease between two lovers perfectly on the runway, dancing and leading each other on in the chicest way possible, elevating their black, corseted looks to that of a musical performance on the runway.

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 Mugler and Kier continued a close relationship. Mugler continued to use Deee-Lite’s music on the runway and Kier continued to wear Mugler, most prominently in the music video for “Good Beat”, a song that literally forces it’s listener onto the dance floor, wherever that may be. And if the idea of a forever icon is someone that transcends both trends and time, then both Mugler and Kier were not only ahead of their time, but two creative geniuses that epitomize the ideals of a forever icon. Two people who always had a good beat in their head and groove placed firmly in their hearts.

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Dolce and Gabbana: Dreamingly Dramatic

Fashion is frivolous. There it is. I laid it out for you. You’ll never question the existence of it again. Plain and simple, it serves no real greater good. Feel bad yet? Well don’t. Sometimes even I find it hard to grapple with that very important fact. Fashion serves no real purpose other than satisfying our sartorial cravings for something so utterly disposable, it just barely makes sense.

It may seem like I’m contradicting my earlier assertions that modern fashion is driven by the idea of intellectual dressing, and as a trend, minimalism. While those two factors are significantly important, I may have lied. Just a little.

You see, with anything, what comes up must also come down. So it’s no wonder that trends, no matter how popular or unpopular, also come and go. What I’m not saying is that intellectual fashion and minimalism are headed for the guillotine. Quite the contrary. But at some point, excess will have to once again rule supreme. People are going to desire the drama and extravagant vision that poetic fashion can offer and once did.

Once upon a time, fashion was unapologetic. Fashion poised itself as the dream of unattainability, usually viewed through the grandiose runway expressions of a creative impresario. The dream of the designer was then the thrill of the hunt, leaving the consumer longing for the most delicious and frothy pieces that only so few could afford to purchase or even dream of locating. For others, the dream was museum exhibits or makeshift versions of runway looks, often left on the imaginary runway floor that one conjured in their hallways.

For me, part of the dream was fashion editorials. It offered an escape from reality. Models became characters, often masquerading as chicly coiffed nymphs laying around in the most dazzling settings wearing the most dazzling clothing. Flipping through an editorial was like watching a silent movie, each page telling a different story that left a memorable impression. For me, it was the February 2007 edition of Elle that left a lasting impression on my mind’s eye. The editorial was aptly named “High Definition” for obvious references to the future of fashion. The model in one image in particular was wearing a corseted bodice dress from Dolce and Gabbana’s Spring/Summer 2007 collection. Turned away from the camera, and sporting a high ponytail, the image focused on the slick, metallic shine of her dress, reflecting the yellow background in a manner that enhanced the dress’s dangerous, unnaturally enhanced curves. And if sex appeal has ever been considered subtle, then it was in the thick black lace that held her so tightly compressed within her dress.

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I suppose it’s comforting to know that almost 7 years later, Dolce and Gabbana is one of few fashion houses still dreaming. Some may say that Dolce and Gabbana’s recent love affair with Italy and Sicilian cinema is overbearing, as the design-duo have been toying with the theme since 2010. But what’s so bad about sticking to a theme? Isn’t there something uniquely interesting about making the same shapes look different every season? I find that idea enduring. For Spring/Summer 2014, the duo designed a poetic nod to ancient Sicilian interaction with Greece. The ancient ruins turned column dresses into literal column dresses, printed with sepia toned images of the historic landmarks that turned the wearer into a walking history lesson.

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 Three dresses in particular were a frivolous testament to the beauty of Sicily’s cherished almond branch flower. The dresses appeared in creamy chiffons embroidered with the most delicate flowers, appearing as if just hanging on by a thread, teetering with the possibility of being blown off it’s branch in the spring wind. You could easily see these dresses floating down the southern coast of Agrigento, where each February a festival is held in honor of the flower, welcoming the arrival of spring. One dress in particular featured an oversized Roman coin as a belt. Practical? No. But this type of fashion is made for one very important reason: dreaming.

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 One of the most stunning dress from those frivolous beauties was cut close to the body, with enormous dolman sleeves embroidered in the same almond branch flower as the frothy chiffon dresses. The only difference was that this dress was cut in a soft, off white cotton and trimmed with a print that harkened back to the symbols and motifs used in Italian Renaissance pottery and textile. Historically, the ancient patterns represent various ideals such as strength and wisdom. Perhaps it was a testament to the strength and wisdom of the Italian women who are empowered by wearing this type of dream-worthy clothing.

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But it wasn’t all a history lesson. Some dresses in the show featured a modern approach to dreamy dressing. Laminated and done in bright hues, such as lime green, the dresses were hand-painted with the likeness of the same almond branch motif that appeared on earlier dresses.

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This type of approach taken by Dolce and Gabbana didn’t make luxury and sophistication feel forced, but did succeed in offering a break from the overbearing thought of a world dressed like minimalists. And while the women who wear clothing from Céline and Dior may differ than that of Dolce and Gabbana’s muse, the message is the same: strong women, the kind of women whose strength is equal to that of a Roman colosseum.

Let’s Talk About Minimalism

Minimalism is one of the most important and impactful trends to come off the runway in the last four years. In my personal opinion and as a fan of Phoebe Philo, Céline’s Creative Director since 2008, her work can indeed be viewed as backlash to the frivolity that ruled the runways before global financial ruin.

 The people who could afford the designer look were no longer interested in wearing their wealth literally on their sleeves. Instead, they favored something with minimal logos and quiet sophistication that would render the clothing indecipherable. It may seem like a generalization, but they no longer wanted to stand out. What they wanted was to blend in. The only difference is that they wanted to blend in still wearing their designer duds.

 The irony is, however, that what Philo probably started as an understatedly chic venture has turned into a global phenomenon. Legions of fans covet her Phantom and Luggage tote bags, even those who don’t necessarily prescribe to a minimal mode of dressing. Kanye West wore her silk blouse from Spring/Summer 2011, which surely didn’t help her quest for quiet chic either:  it landed her and the brand she revived on the tongues and backs of every rapper in “the game.” Not exactly the type of brand loyalty Philo was cruising for.

 But none of that really matters. As a luxury brand, the commercialization of good, intellectual fashion is bound to occur. What really matters is Philo’s point of view for the women she actually dresses. Philo’s idea of minimalism for her Spring/Summer 2014 show was seemingly anything but minimal, however, and that may not be such a bad thing.

 If minimalism is about subtracting excess, focusing the attention onto cut and fabrication, then the prominent idea here was bringing minimalistic shapes into a maximalist perspective. Emphasis was given to one of the most interesting aspects of the show: oversized tunic tops paired with pleated handkerchief skirts. The tunics came in various incarnations: some featured enormous dolman sleeves, the model entering the garment through a small collared zipper. Others were as easy as pulling on a t-shirt to wear. What made them abrasive and difficult wasn’t so much the shape, but the addition of Hungarian photographer Brassaï’s wildly visual tribal graffiti prints found in Paris in the 1930s.

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 The knits in the collection were easily some of the most interesting and wearable looks to grace the runway. Knit polo tops in contrasting primary colors, often elongated and worn over a skirt, were the most simple and enduring ideas presented by Philo. One swing skirt received a modern transformation with the addition of softly folded fabric, cascading from the hip. Another knit top was shown in a halter style with a cobalt blue swing skirt, offering an ease and cool factor missing from other looks in the show.

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 Where the show felt cluttered and overwrought with idea was when we saw the introduction of asymmetrical tops and oversized, baggy sweaters. The asymmetrical tops were too much, pushing into a category of complex silhouettes that few women could even fathom figuring out how to wear. It can be said for one sweater in particular that seemed to swallow its wearer whole. Not a good look. Not even on a model.

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 My personal favorite look from the show was a tailored overcoat in black wool with grommets enameled in white, yellow, red and navy blue.  Worn with white trousers and a tartan turtleneck, the look picked up exactly where Philo left off with the smartness of her Fall/Winter 2013 show. It was chic and easy to wear, offering a lax sophistication in tailoring that would have been helpful had it been spread a little more amply throughout the show.

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 What we should take away from a bold show like Celine is simple: we shouldn’t be afraid of a challenge. The clothing may not be the most wearer friendly, but the ideas here are. Clothing isn’t something to be hung on a wall and admired like a piece of fine art. Clothing is meant to be worn, not put on a pedestal that aims to deem it more than it really is. In all circumstances, it should be treasured and loved, but not viewed as something holy. It’s the moments we have wearing our clothing that are the best and most enduring ideas.

Dior: Dressing for Intellect

       A new woman. A woman thoroughly immersed in the idea of “intellectual dressing.” What does that pretentious term even involve? Does intellectual dressing challenge our presupposition of what it means to be “well-dressed?” Or does it consist of seeing shapes and fabrics in a new light?

       Perhaps, it’s none of that. Maybe the way in which we should define it is more obvious: dressing for ourselves and no one else. Our sense of individuality comes from being comfortable enough to be as daring and bold as we so choose, regardless of dull implications from onlookers. Who cares what the rest of the world thinks? We are talking about hard hitting, mind challenging fashion.

       The thought of intellectual dress is something that has intrigued me for the last few months. As I personally begin to shift into wearing more challenging silhouettes from the likes of Juun.J and Junya Watanabe, in addition to wearing more black, the color often associated with the intellect pack, I have to wonder: is dressing for intellect the “New Look?”

       I say “New Look” because of the fashion house commonly associated with those two brave words: Christian Dior. The woman Raf Simons presented at his Spring/Summer 2014 Prêt-a-Porter show is certainly an ideal archetype of what it means to be intellectually dressed. The wasp-waisted, curve-enhancing demurity of Dior’s legacy rendered Simons an ample garden of ideas that provoked the ordinary. Newness in appearance is nothing if not utterly fearless and Simons’s work for the House of Dior is both brave and bold. The women who decide to adorn themselves with his work want to stimulate the minds of others. These are the women who redefine the conventional standards of sex appeal by choosing to dress the way they do. This is the new sex appeal.

       Take for example my personal favorite looks from the show: strong, menswear-inspired, wasp-waisted “Bar” jackets. Conventional enough for business in the front, they were equally suitable for an art gallery opening in the back. With their swinging, godet inserts falling in a gentle bustle done in strong, contrasted floral prints, the coats offered a sweet but biting approach to femininity for a new, intellectually dressed woman.

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          What’s more important is that this clothing challenges conventional standards of beauty while being entirely about what women want to wear. It gives the wearer the femininity they want to hold onto while providing the power and sharpness of masculine tailoring. What Simons brings fourth is the redefining of what it means to be a powerful woman, perhaps most importantly in the work place. Who’s to say you can’t take an intellectual approach to fashion and wear it too?

So perhaps the idea of intellectual dressing isn’t so “intellectual”, but rather powerful. Shirtdresses that looked seemingly basic revealed a deeper, more powerful meaning. Completely shoulderless, they were supported by sequin embroidered racer backs that offered a newness and ease that has been missing from fashion.

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            What’s even more striking is the introduction of Simons’s vernacular into his work for Christian Dior: his fascination with text and slogan, using typical methods of communicating thought in atypical ways. The most important dresses in the show were those that brought the show’s floral theme to life: slogans like “Alice Garden” and “Primrose Path” were embroidered onto bands that vertically intersected dresses done in striking floral prints. The intrusion of the realness of Simons’s textual obsession added to the frankness of the dresses’ message: they may be pretty, but they’re more than just artificial.

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            As Mayer Aguayo’s cover of Kylie Minogue’s “Slow” brought the clothing to life on the runway, it made one line in the chorus hard to ignore: “Slow down and dance with me.” Men of the world, take note: this is the woman you want to slow down and dance with.