July 18, 2011   4 notes

couture week: armani privé

(images via style)

while zuhair murad's journey to the land of the rising sun was put off with a vague wave and a “pish,” journalists in every one of the eight or so articles i read reviewing the armani privé a/w 2011 haute couture show in paris exhaled sighs of bliss at a collection inspired by, and dedicated to, the very same.  well.  i’m not going to pretend it wasn’t astounding better unto itself, but how having cate blanchett in your front row and some charitable efforts help shade the bottom line indeed. 

anyway, titled ‘hommage au japon’, the 44-look range was intended as a kind of respects-paying to the country that was so ravaged by the tsunami disaster this past spring.  and, as the guardian reports, “The designer said the couture collection was a ‘creative gesture’ to back up the brand’s financial aid in support of the Unesco scholarship programme for children affected by the disaster.”

(incidentally, none of the articles mentioned any real monetary contributions made from the collection to relief efforts, but whatever, i suppose they’ll claim they’re gaining publicity for the cause, i guess.  and yes, i’m cynical.  but this is the fashion industry we’re discussing—and, of course, because i know that the designer’s stable of main hos tend to be the, ahem, bloated self-promotional types.  but, yes, i digress.) 

anyway, the designer remarked to suzy menkes for the nyt that he has had a long-standing appreciation for “the captivating culture and the refined sense of aesthetic” of the country, adding that he was“profoundly moved by the tragic events unleashed by the earthquake last March.”

what emerged then, was something that cathy horyn’s short summation for the nyt made sound almost staid: “a silhouette seemingly drawn from the kimono and obi (translated as stiff black patent leather bodices), and one or two models were slowed to a mincing gait,” while style acknowledged “Japanese visual icons—ranging from parasols to cherry blossoms—were predictably transmuted in prints,” before turning a rhapsodizing eye to the “hint of Rei Kawakubo’s original radicalism in the man-tailored pants, in the layered, elongated Edwardian line, in odd details like the double cuff on a jacket sleeve, and especially in all the asymmetry.” 

of course, as ms. menkes observed in her review, “It would have been easy for this Japonisme to get out of control but many of the touches were subtle: printed silk peeping from a side slit or a cluster of pleats at the hip.”  instead, as she nicely summed up, the range “had a gentle elegance” the designer has perhaps left aside in recent moments (his shiny gowns from the s/s 2011 hc collection, for example, being a little brassy in the face of all this). 

mostly, though, what came through was delicate attention to detail.  while the afp deliriously prattled on about such luxuriant materials as the “tangerine sequins” and “black velvet” served alongside leather, satin, and innumerable bolts of silk, also at one point dramatically commenting that “(t)he bustier dresses came later, with the models seemingly poured into them like liquid mercury”, the telegraph fixated on the headpieces, created by master milliner philip treacy (and noted they’d taken him “two months to make”—whether this was individually or not, the latter of which would be considerably less shocking, was never told).  

to be sure, it all made for a marvelous display—certainly as hedonistic as it was charitable, but perhaps that’s beside the point.  i may be alone in pointing this out, but i’m not as strongly convinced that mr. armani so deviated from his prior aesthetic (those long, fluid lines to make the waifish look ever more so; his tailored jackets; his carefully placed, never-too-revealing slits) in the making of this collection, but so, too, is that not necessarily a bad thing.  

anyway, we’ve been waiting some time for the eastern explosion (while christian dior has recently been showing and making short films in china, mr. armani’s latest resort show was influenced by the country, for example), and if we’ve been seeing more marketing to the region, we haven’t necessarily seen more of its aesthetic, which was last strong in the late nineties.  so, i suppose, it was a way forward, a pretty show that revolutionized the bland fashion sensibilities of types like katie holmes, and for the rest of us…yeah, a pretty show. 

(watch the full catwalk show video here)

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