After a few season with nothing but too obvious references to the (in my opinion hideous) Eighties, a lot of prominent designers made the very distinct decision to find their inspiration either a couple of decades earlier (the Fifties), a few decades later (the Noughties) or very much in the present (Dries Van Noten).
I've never really been a big Balmain fan. I can certainly understand their appeal, but I tend to find their designs a bit harsh, attention-drawing and not very ladylike. Thus it should not come as a surprise that I was pleasantly surprised to see designers like Dries Van Noten, Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton, Miuccia Prada and Stella McCartney showcase clothes that make women feel beautiful. Their clothes had such an ease and freshness to them, they were soft without loosing that special something. They caught your attention, without looking like a Christmas tree with too many bells and whistles, which I find is the case with the recent collections by Balmain and the fall 2010 ready-to-wear collection by Pucci (I doubt anyone can pull off dresses THAT short...great legs or not).
So let us take a closer look at ....
Dries Van Noten
Fellow Belgian Dries Van Noten showed a collection in Paris that was very now, very modern, very wearable and extremely fresh. There really wasn't one piece I wouldn't like to get my hands on. His silhouettes were full of colour and a mix of lots of different prints, which seem to blend in together with such ease. The different hints of leopard especially caught my eye, as I thought they were a great way to add some detail and personality to an otherwise understated outfit. I also loved the impeccably made greenish coat (second picture), it looks like a great investment piece that you could wear for many, many years to come. Perfect to throw over any outfit, you can mix it with lots of different colours, it's a great alternative to the camel coat that we'll also be seeing next winter. To me, Dries must have envisioned this collection with a very busy woman in mind, who is always on the go and needs some really great basic pieces, as well as some eyecatchers to jazz up her outfit without it becoming too flashy, so she could still look professional and put together.
This is for a woman of all ages, who's main concern when it comes to fashion is to feel comfortable and be able to look great in any occasion whatsoever, be it at a private gathering or something work-related.
I can already see her running through the busy streets of New York, Paris or London, in a hurry to catch her subway train. In these outfits, I doubt any woman would mind...
There's been a lot of attention from the press to these two shows, mainly due to the fact that both Marc Jacobs and Miuccia Prada used somewhat healthier looking models. Some of the Victoria's Secret Angels walked the Prada show (Miranda Kerr, Doutzen Kroes, Alessandra Ambrosio and Catherine McNeil), while Laetitia Casta, Elle Mcpherson, Bianca Balti and again Alessandra graced the Vuitton show.
I loved how the clothes at Prada contained such Prada specific qualities and elements, like that very recognizable print. The whole collection was beautifully done, but I prefer the Vuitton one to the Prada show. I found all the Prada silhouettes to be a little square shaped, while the Vuitton collection somehow elongated the models' bodies even more.
The shoes with the little bows at Vuitton were to die for! It was obvious Marc thought about a woman's comfort, as he included some kitten heels in his shoe collection. Sky high shoes make everyone gasp, yes, but this isn't necessarily always a good thing. Especially for the woman walking in them.
In an interview about his collection and his choice for a more ladylike silhouette, Mr. Jacobs said he was feeling tired with all the over the top trends we've witnessed the past collections and that he wanted to make something real women of all ages, shapes and sizes would want to wear and would look good wearing them.
Though this obviously isn't made for the office, there were certainly a lot of great seperate pieces in the collection that everyone could wear with some basic elements. This way, you give a small wink to the Fifties, without looking like you've just stepped of the Mad Men set. Think Gwyneth Paltrow in The Talented Mr. Ripley. And although you can't wear this every day, I guarantee you, you will feel like you are the most beautiful woman in the room when you do.
It was almost too basic for Fashion Week, the models wearing very little makeup, wearing basic coloured clothes. But it was done with such craftmanship, it was like a breath of fresh air in the midst of this hectic, stressy week. Stella used an extremely neutral palette, but it was the detail that went into the clothes that set her designs apart. A great example would be the cut of the grey coat in the last picture. THAT is a perfect coat for fall.
This whole collection brings to mind Audrey Hepburn. Her wardrobe choices back then would certainly stand the test of time and still be relevant today. Ms. Hepburn's iconic outfits are all about timeless chic, which Stella captured amazingly well in her collection.
Not unlike the Dries Van Noten collection, this is a great choice of wardrobe for the career-minded woman, I would say not younger than thirty.
The recurring theme throughout these three shows, for me, is that these clothes really are made for women. These are clothes that, however different they may be, make a woman look good and (most importantly) feel great in an effortless manner. And isn't that what fashion should really be about?
* All pictures are courtesy of Style.com *