July 13, 2011

couture week: zuhair murad

(images via fashionising)

i’ve said it before and again, enough that by now i should have learned to leave it alone, and not get one more swing at an already decaying horse.  but it still will—and never cease to—amaze me that, in my search for articles on the latest zuhair murad show—haute couture f/w 2011—while little was actually published on the designer himself, pieces about brittany snow’s favourite red carpet moments and blake lively’s hair colour jumped up in conjunction with his name, rather than any actual analysis on the man’s work. 

isn’t it strange how a designer’s value rises depending on the person actually inhabiting one of his gowns (and yes, i would understand the value if that someone were eleanor roosevelt, so don’t bother trying to make that point).  i know, of course, that celebrities tend to make everything more interesting—even models are celebrities of a sort within the industry—but perhaps if we look beyond the actual ‘who’s who’ the designer is dressing to the quality of their work, who they might dress…isn’t that somehow enticing, a little?  somewhat?  is there any way to pull the heated discussion back to the clothes themselves?

but perhaps i’m just doing the same thing, in a way, and it’s high time for us to move on to that very same discussion of mr. murad’s latest collection.  in step with giorgio armani this season, mr. murad chose japan as his theme, which manifested in the pieces’ embellishments in many traditional forms—obis on dresses and jackets, cherry blossom embroidery swirling over some of the show’s most desirable gowns (as on caroline, at top), bamboo motifs, fancy kimonos, frog closures, and mandarin collars. 

coloured in bright, punchy shades of aubergine, emerald, cherry, wine, cream, and black, at it’s best, the range evoked the heydey of couture and its fascination with the east, a memory of those days of the twenties and thirties when women darted over as part of an exotic retreat, bringing back the incense-smoky silken luxuries of a new land.  this, of course, came with some of the quieter pieces (perhaps boasting a bit of a sleeve, something a bit more refined).  but to this vision there was a flipside. 

wwd proceeded with a skeptical eye and harsher language than i might have chosen to employ (at one point even calling the range “tacky”), though i cannot but say at some turns they weren’t wrong.  for at several points, the designer seemed to abandon his path and aesthetic entirely (and here, perhaps, shamelessly pandering to his growing pack of celebrity clients), with gowns that seemed designed to provide an exhibition of cleavage and leg more than anything else, sparkle and pop that neither worked with the rest of the pieces, nor on their own.

in the end, while i think we can see the collection for some of its lovely pieces—and just try forgetting the more ostentatious among them—i wonder that it’s not indicative of a growing problem with fashion.  displeased as i’ve been with the increasing numbers of designers seeming to pander more to celebrity style than anything else (especially given that it ignites public interest like nothing else), are we to simply lose some of the old and great elements of couture (or even ready to wear) in favour of those that celebrities so appreciate (namely, exhibiting their various attributes on the global stage of red carpet)?  do we have any that revere their craft, their creative freedom before making sure they’re displaying those famous bodies to their best advantage?  certainly we do, but it’s always disheartening to see yet another of the ranks fall to the task of making sure an additional middling actress finds his designs irresistible to her (questionable) taste. 

(see the complete show video here)

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