My main function at Second City Style is to provide a man’s perspective on women’s fashion. That said, I must admit that sometimes I tend to focus on cocktail/evening AND on men who design for women. For this installment, I have decided to focus on women who design for women. For those of you who may not know who is behind some of the world’s most recognized brands who show in Milan and Paris, here is my primer on Fall/Winter 2011.
A is for Alberta Ferretti whose red carpet looks on young Hollywood have met with mixed reviews in recent years. What my fellow fashion arbiters all agree on is that her vision for women during the daytime is spectacular. For Fall/Winter 2011, she presented bright colors and organic color blocking during her show in Milan. Whether you choose the slim pants under a matching tunic or a shift dress over color coordinated thigh high boots, the look is both â€œlong and leanâ€ and â€œflirty and feminineâ€.
In Paris, A is for Anne Demeulemeester (I know – technically she might actually be a B for Belgian). You may recall that actress Molly Ringwald was the unofficial brand ambassador for this avant garde label in her post-Pretty in Pink years. Demeulemeester drew inspiration this season from nature, going so far as to cast jewelry from the feet of birds from her own backyard. Not for the faint of heart, this all black collection is for the woman who likes corsets and a little goat fur in her daytime look.
B is for Blumarine by another A, Anna Molinari, who draws inspiration each season from nature, be it animal prints or a marine color palette. This season in Milan, she took a decidedly sharp turn through the basics of fashion design, presenting 20 or so monochrome looks that brought focus to the tailored silhouettes and her attention to detail. Half way through her show, she took another sharp turn through vivid color land, presenting 60s inspired silhouettes in blue, yellow, purple, and my favorite, orange.
OK, I have to cheat a bit here and talk about a collection that is designed by a man, but the runway show is traditionally styled by a woman. I can’t let a Paris Pret-a-Porter season pass without peeking at the hottest B going – Balmain. Celebrity watchers will know Balmain from Rihanna on the red carpet. The masthead obsessed – myself included – know that this is the first collection NOT styled by Emmuelle Alt, the newly minted Redactrice en Chef of Vogue Paris. Melanie Ward has taken the reins and brought the collection forward in musical influence from Punk rocker to Glam Rock. The sequined body suits with plunging necklines are perfect daywear for fall – if you’re going to high tea with Lady Gaga!
Back to C for cool and casual from Chloe. Hannah McGibbon brought a 70s vibe to her collection with loose fitting sportswear constructed from python prints liberally accented with actual python. My favorite look was the slouchy python print palazzo pants with square python patch pockets, but that could just be because they remind me of my carefree California surfer days spent in OP corduroy shorts. The head-to-toe look is a little more Dallas than Sex and the City, but I’m sure we’ll see these pieces on city girls with a penchant for exotic skins in all the major cities.
C is, of course, for Chic – and Cosmopolitan – as can only be found in Paris. Fans of Phoebe Philo’s era at Chloe have realigned themselves to the newly revitalized legacy brand Celine. Not since the 80s have young women flocked to this brand which is now the go-to brand for women who want a clean, minimalist silhouette and appreciate beautiful construction in luxe fabrics. Inspired this season by the interiors of luxury cars, Philo’s approach to the urban uniform is to keep the overall shapes simple so as to emphasize the lines – as in the must-have faux bois printed pieces that evoke the exotic wood trims of hand made cars.
I honestly couldn’t find a C from Milan for you, so I have to jump to D – for Donatella, Versace, that is. Since the days of her late brother’s reign at the brand, Versace has been synonymous with sizzling sexuality. Who can forget Elizabeth Hurley in Gianni Versace’s barely there evening gown held together with his signature medusa head oversize safety pins? Donatella has not only steered the brand into a new century, she has charted a new course into modernity while still respecting the traditions of the brand’s history. For her latest collection, she delved deep into the archives, plucking out the iconic baroque curlicues of her brother’s collections from the early 1990s and abstracting them to single graphic elements color blocked onto sleek modern silhouettes. The looks are not particularly short, bare or form fitting, but the sexy is still undeniable. Brava to the diva!
There are many more great things to come from Milan and Paris (and New York, of course!) for Fall/Winter 2011, but I couldn’t possibly cover them all in one column. Stay tuned for more of my humble point of viewâ€¦ In the meantime, we have a glorious world full of spring fashion to explore first!
Image Layout: Molly Murphy