paris fashion week: costume national
(images via style)
we’ve seen costume national previously on opt only briefly (resort 2011), which may not serve the best purpose for pointing out that this was a rather unlikely label, dark and avant-y as it tends to be (see f/w 2007 for a good reference point on the subject), to pick up on that ‘little pink dress’ trend that looked to be so be for spring the first few days of new york fashion week (most notably at cushnie et ochs). but designer ennio capasa did indeed zoom in on the idea in a big way for his s/s 2012 show, presented at paris fashion week in a blaze of bubblegum-hued (so strong one could almost smell it) glory.
vogue quoted the designer as saying we would see for spring “a tough and tender woman,” adding that the show was centered around concepts of “tailoring and rock ‘n’ roll through a pink lens. The contemporary reinterpretation of Blondie and Wanda Jackson.” meanwhile, style wrote something similar after a tour through mr. capasa’s studio: “(h)is inspiration board had Araki florals and bondage images and shots of tough-but-tender icons like Wanda Jackson and Blondie.” (i’m not actually sure what they mean by characterizing ms. jackson and blondie in that fashion, but no matter, no one really wants to explain. maybe it would be that the latter swung between ‘one way or another’ and ‘heart of glass’. explanation enough, right?)
anyway, vogue continued, “(c)ream trouser suits had pink accents and long shirt tails falling behind, dresses had geometric folds of contrasting colour across the front or floaty chiffon shoulders above tailored bodices – it was girly pink and baby blue, cream and black, with the colour occasionally coming to life via curly plastic embellishments. A blue bra top was clearly visible under a pink chiffon T and a soft white leather coat had a zip diagonally across the front, while a pretty pink petal print smothered skinny bootcut trousers with leather back or T-shirt dress edged in leather. Crepe shift dresses came in three colour ways – they were easy to wear and had the signature Capasa curvy sex appeal with a touch of the geometry he learned in his early days with Yohji Yamamoto.”
wwd celebrated (kind of) what it viewed to be a cheery outlook on the part of the designer, commenting that “(t)he Italian designer drenched his catwalk in azalea and cherry blossom pink, which gave a shot of color to sporty crisp cotton separates, and in a fragmented petal print that was spliced with solids on dresses and trouser suits. Capasa said his inspiration came from the petal and bondage photographs of Nobuyoshi Araki which translated into a cage-like pattern in paper-thin leather overlaid on the iridescent sheer panels of a white dress. But teetering between light and dark, this collection never truly found its footing.”
similarly, jessica michault of the nyt wasn’t completely taken in by the show, opining that “(t)he clothing was a bit boxy with stand-away short cap sleeves on the see-through base of a dress that then was sealed to an opaque bodice. Wide double-breasted coats in bubble gum pink and shift dresses in layered color blocks also looked heavy for the hot summer months. As the show progressed, the designer got his sexy back in the form of pink petal-print outfits outlined in black leather and some white leather bondage tops inspired by the work of the photographer Nobuyoshi Araki. But the sugar-sweet color never really jived with the dark side of Mr. Capasa’s aesthetic and ended up leaving a bitter aftertaste.”
on the other hand, though, style took a more positive approach: “He framed the arch-feminine hue with smart tailoring in vests and jackets and boyish cropped pants. It’s a look he’s really taken to since fashion’s big cleanup a year and a half ago, and it suits him well. But since then, sexiness, once his stock-in-trade, has taken a backseat. Today that was remedied somewhat in body-skimming dresses with sheer organza pieced into sweetheart-line décolletages and sleeves, though they were nothing va-va-voom. What gave you more zip were the abstract florals edged in black leather and backed in a white scubalike nylon silk. They were similarly modest in silhouette, but the combination hinted at perversity—certainly a better method of communication than the duo of cage leather looks that sang it loud and proud.”
finally, the uk’s my daily vacillated between the celebratory, writing on one hand “(t)he strapless dresses overlaid with organza capelets were just perfect for a night sipping cocktails under the stars,” while enthusing about the palette: “(t)he show was dominated by delicate blossom pinks, ivory and floral motifs - although punctuated here and there with sheer black.” however, they also took much the same line as the others towards the end of their short write-up, commenting, “(t)here were some beautifully constructed frocks in this collection, but for all the optimism it felt like Capasa never truly got into his stride. And we’re going to need a hell of a lot of convincing before we try those fierce cage shoes.”
from a beauty perspective, i have to admit that i was quite pleased to see those early nineties-esque crimped strands making their way down the catwalk, as although it’s been a while, i could see a more muted version of the trend making a comeback. as for makeup, the site beautylish reports that lead “makeup artist Mathais Von Hooff kept models looking summery, minimal and fresh. It seemed as if the girls had slicked on some gloss and headed outside on a summer day,” with the colours in slightly blush-y and pink-y shades to highlight the rose petal tones of the collection.
i will admit that at times i was left a bit confused by what it all meant; some of those structured shoulder dresses and tops rather reminded me of the styles favoured by receptionists in late eighties-era cop movies, while the strappier numbers had strong whiffs of bondage, and some of the colour-blocked or simpler selections (the dress siri tollerod wore, at top, melissa tammerijn’s monochromatic black gown with the sheer shoulders) were modernist and stunning. for all the limitations of palette and silhouette, it felt like mr. capasa let his ideas get the better of him. but on the upside, he deserves a lot of credit for experimenting, in lieu of simply riding the success and sales waves, and as just mentioned, he did have some solid and truly wearable looks on offer. if there were missteps to be had, maybe we should just say that’s part of the learning curve. either we can credit designers with moving forward without slapping their hands away, or keep happy with continual ‘best of’ collections. we can’t have it both ways, so today i’m quite pleased with this.
(watch the complete collection video here)