c.2014 New York Times News Service
c.2014 New York Times News Service
PARIS — Is it fashion or the red carpet that is changing? Although there were a fair number of done-up outfits at the Academy Awards over the weekend, Elie Saab opened his winter 2014 collection on Monday with narrow sporty pants in wine red, with a cloak or coat as cover-up. It was what the designer called “dark opulence,” and far from flash.
In fact, the first strapless long dress had black burned into the wine, and long dresses continued in that vein — give or take a split side or a semi-sheer fabric showing a hazy view of shorts and leg underneath.
The opulence was there all right, in fluffy pink fur jackets. But the sporty theme wound on with digital flower prints on black. Long sleeves were a constant cover-up.
Saab cited Mark Rothko — and the American artist’s linear focus with luminous colors — as his inspiration, and there was an artistic feel to the long-sleeved dresses in emerald green darkening to black.
Perhaps the world, and a rain-soaked Hollywood, is learning to dare to cover up, rather than to bare.
“There are a lot of designers that are very good at putting men’s clothes on women, Giambattista Valli said Monday, “but on the contrary, I like to dress women who are totally comfortable with their own femininity — and they love dresses dedicated to them.”
The designer was not being defiant, but rather was explaining his woman-as-flower look. Young models at his show stepped out with petal pieces, each a soft version of a triangle, opening at the sides of dresses.
This collection was as light as a feather. Not quite the thing for the seemingly endless winter in the U.S. this year, but quite convincing as work on intriguing surfaces. A texture on one of the coats might come from an animal print or from a brushing effect of what looked like dog hair. Or it was a ragged mix of fur and lace that appeared on a fondant-pink coat, with the same sweet color used for dresses.
The designer has been smart in the way that he segments his collections, so that haute couture is deliberately decorative and the ready-to-wear line in the same pretty spirit, but much simpler. Both are, of course, destined for the same woman — or for her daughter.
Emanuel Ungaro’s designer, Fausto Puglisi, is a star in Rome, where his balletic clothes, pieced together with geometric skill, have received an ovation. His work for the storied Parisian house on Monday was much less dramatic — yet it may be what Ungaro needs to keep the coffers full.
The idea seemed to be that feminine-masculine yin and yang once again. As is fashionable this season, the designer mixed the sexual stereotypes in a single outfit, creating prints of roses, classic or more abstract, and putting them alongside sportier, and therefore supposedly more masculine, materials.
The general tendency was toward texture — there’s that word again — as in a sporty mesh inserted into a knitted sweater, with a frillier skirt.
The show was strong on pants, which made this design seem to dip to the masculine side, but Puglisi countered the casual look with lace booties. He seems to be still feeling his way around creating a 21st-century identity for Ungaro — but at least he produced a collection that made sense for a house founded on couture, while looking for a more relaxed approach.
At John Galliano, Bill Gaytten, the house’s tailor, used to ground the master’s wild fantasies with stricter and less romantic clothes.
Now that he is on his own, Gaytten has taken time to find his place. But the new season had a good balance of both streamlined menswear-inspired designs and of sheer prettiness.
The designer said that he was building his silhouette “from the curves of a woman.” The elegant, waist-cinched dresses might have been one long yawn, but by developing his interest in fabric, the effect was striking and modern.
The audacious idea of decorating a techno fabric like neoprene showed a perverse sensibility, as did panne velvet with pleating. With his skills, Gaytten produced a confident and comprehensible collection, which sees him move gracefully forward.