Friday, 1 March 2019

Manish Arora's Bohemian Tribe Ignite Paris Fashion Week

  Manish Arora's dramatic AW19/20 show at the American Cathedral in Paris with extravagant headdresses and sequined gowns. Shot for DAM by Elli Ioannou

Amid anodyne pret-a-porter shows at Paris Fashion Week, Manish Arora offered a tribe of brilliantly-hued urban warriors for his Autumn/Winter 2019 collection. The designer, wielding his pencil like a conductor his baton, created music from an orchestra of seemingly discordant instruments. Yet his mastery of colour and composition underpinned the theatricality of the show, producing covetable pieces, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Additional reporting and photography by Elli Ioannou 

The Manish Arora show at
American Cathedral in Paris
SET under the soaring stone arches of the Gothic American Cathedral in Paris, Manish Arora's jewel-coloured new collection recalled the luminous hues of the stained glass windows above.

There was a tremendous buzz of expectation among the pews from the audience before the show. As guests took their places, they fell into an enthralled silence as the first models appeared wearing intricate masks by Dan Schaub and sparkling sequined gowns in a palette of vibrant blues and pinks. Bucolic scenes of cyclists and punks in platform shoes printed or embroidered on skirts and dresses contrasted with the dramatic masks and headpieces.

Manish Arora wields his designer's pencil like a skilled conductor with his baton, creating wonderful music from an orchestra of seemingly discordant instruments. His masterful grasp of colour and cut underpinned the drama of the show, with many desirable pieces. The accessories were standouts too with some intriguing 3D bags in the shape of cars and animals and backpacks with flashing lights.

Withal the horned headdresses and shimmering masks, the designer called the show "Finally Normal People" and had it emblazoned on to the sweater of a hooded model with a face powdered in orange. Arora says the collection was inspired by his own spirituality and the feverish excitement of festivals such as Burning Man.

He describes the characters in his show as "motley cru of Mad Max bohemians straight out of a dystopian future." Shielded by jewel-encrusted visors, Arora imagined the models as apocalyptic androids in desert landscapes with flames embroidered on to floor length trenches covered with graffiti.

The characters in Manish Arora's show are described as "Mad Max bohemians straight out of a dystopian future"
Even though Arora's vision is of an Armageddon, he still managed to create a cheerful ambiance with rose-coloured hues, sunset oranges and striking fluorescent tones. For the digital generation, in love with Instagram, holistic regimes and positive slogans, he emblazoned inspiring messages on faux-fur sweatshirts and t-shirts: What if this is all real, I am the one I have been waiting for and Everything you need is inside of you.

Feathered headpiece mixing motifs worn
with a beautiful, padded jacket with
embroidered patches
Another trope in the designer's personal artistic canon is the contemporary hippy, this time wearing indigo denim, patch worked with crests and teamed with Seventies psychedelic florals. The designer's signature eclecticism and peripatetic travels through different eras also included Art Deco silhouettes and patterns.

There were references to Charleston party girls, reimagined as futuristic flappers, flouting social conventions wearing bugle-beaded scalloped dresses teamed with mesh sneakers and LED backpacks. A sporty motif ran through the collection with hoods and capes in reflective materials.

Arora wanted to create the sense of a world tribe, fusing Navaho, Indian, Tribal and Americana leitmotifs in the collection. There are country and western fringes combined with Native American feathers, peacock prints and tasselled Indian headdresses. Aesthetically he mixed pop art with Hollywood glamour in optical cotton prints with a psychedelic swirl of sequins. But under the theatrical set pieces there were some wonderful clothes. A beautifully cut jacket and swinging A-line skirt could be worn everyday but just without the accessories of a furry, multicoloured hood adorned with pink sequined cones and a spiralling, pair of double unicorn horns.

Arora wanted to create a world tribe, fusing Navaho, Indian Tribal and Americana leitmotifs in the collection

The exuberant show also included some highly collectible accessories including purses ~ shaped like a shark and VW van ~  bags and backpacks lit up with LED lights. But the striking feather headdresses were the standouts with their horns, masks with flashing lights, and a grand finale with sticks of burning incense worn like a crown.

Although the collection appeared over the top, there were some very wearable pieces below the fluorescent fur and multitude of embellishments, including long fluid gowns and trousers in every shape and size from voluminous to slim and shapely. The thirty-four looks in the show all had a mix of Arora's sense of fantasy enlivened with vivid colour and this gave it an unlikely sense of cohesion. The fringing, leopard print, patches, sequins and embroidery all came together to create a collection that may have had its own language but in the end spoke to everyone.

See gallery below for highlights from the show
A beautiful, form fitting, sequined gown with Art Deco motifs topped off by one of the collection's extraordinary headpieces.
A silky hoodie with flames curling up the sides and graffiti, worn with a finely detailed sequined sweater.
An intricate fitted bodice in acid green is paired with a shimmering, puff sleeved gown, a bejewelled mask and blue, embellished hood.
A masterfully draped jacket worn with a pretty skirt embroidered with rainbows and bucolic scenes of punks wearing platform shoes and carrying placards, children on bicycles, playing at the beach and cars sprouting palm trees.

A crown of incense and an elaborate mask atop a brilliant bodice and dress with an wonderful peacock pattern.
The headpiece that sits on the faces of the models and designed to match the gowns.
A scintillating sequined evening gown that is designed with peacock feather patterns and fitted close to the body. The headpiece is an optional extra for the bal.
This jacket show's Manish Arora's virtuoso ability to combine colour, texture and pattern with its hear-shaped padding, charming patches and silky flames at the edges.

Add Indigo denim mixed with leather sky blue fringing and psychedelic patterned trousers and top
One of the highly desirable bags shaped like a cute little van and lit up inside.  

Manish Arora mixes Navaho, Indian and Country and Western motifs with a sure hand.
The fish handbag with its serrated teeth, pink mouth and silvery scales, adds to this looks heart-shaped belt and fluffy, faux fur jacket in mauve, green and orange. 
A wild pink concoction mixing faux fur, a rose encircling a unicorn horn, a heart-shaped skirt and a t-shirt with the slogan
"I am the one I have been waiting for".

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Ottolinger's New World Order

The sci-fi universe of Ottolinger and a skewed take on the denim jacket at the AW19/20 show in Paris. Photographed for DAM by Elli Iaonnou.
A Chinese sci-fi novel, a decontructivist aesthetic and a robust treatment of textiles were at the heart of Ottolinger's new Autumn/Winter 2019 collection. Heightening, the post-apocalyptic drama was the show's sense of chaos and disruption created by big screen projections, flashing lights and metallic sound, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Reporting and photography by Elli Ioannou

The dramatic finale of the Ottolinger show
in Paris
SWISS designers Christa Bösch and Cosima Gadient used Liu Cixin's Chinese science fiction trilogy, The Three Body Problem, as the starting point for their new collection.

This was the second time the pair, who are based in Berlin and call their label Ottolinger, showed on the official calendar for Paris fashion week. For the new season, they chose the Lycée Jacques Decour, and its 19th wooden century theatre, as the backdrop to the new collection.

 During the show, a large screen projection, flashing lights and loud metallic sounds were meant to disturb the audience while the models filed past in a collection of distressed, asymmetrical and yet sporty creations. The aim was to create a sense of apocalyptic disorder suggesting that chaos is needed for creativity and innovation to flow.
Bösch and Gadient used Liu Cixin's Chinese science fiction trilogy, The Three Body Problem, as the starting point for their new collection

 Ruched & bunched silvery fabric
made a form fitting dress
The designers have created a certain ethos for Ottolinger that incorporates asymmetry and ripped fabrics that sit close to the body. Idiosyncratic pieces included skirts printed with photographs of a Swiss folkloric tradition where people wear models of their house as hats at the start of the new year.

The design duo like deconstruction and experimenting with textiles and the new collection included a mix of plaids, checks, flannel, denim and knits.

But sportswear is their base from ski looks that seem like space outfits to more tailored pieces such as short tartan twinsets in vivid greens and oranges.

On the catwalk there were black, shiny vinyl looks, dresses with ruches and asymmetric cuts, and Bösch and Gadient's experiments with deconstructing tartans and plaids.

The designers have said they like to drape on the body to create their designs and this gives the pieces a good fit.

The design duo like deconstruction and experimenting with textiles and using a mix of plaids, checks, flannel, denim and knits

Plaids and checks in fluorescent
colours had asymmetric shapes
and raw edges
Jackets and tops were combined with slender trousers and multiple zippers were used outside as elements to heighten the form of the body. Fabric was bunched up to create skirts and bustiers that managed to look both avant-garde and elegant. The designers like to create beauty from unusual elements and enjoy skewing the angle of jackets and dresses and keeping edges raw.

Fantasy is the conceptual part of the show and the futuristic sportswear embodied the designers' vision. They saw this collection as a space opera where the ordinary is combined with the fantastic.The idea of sportswear is taken further this season yet enhances the feminine silhouette such as the green paisley silk looks.

The designers' quote from the writer of the Chinese sci fi novel  gives some inkling of the oblique way the pair create their collections: “Coming up with a new speculative idea that moves me profoundly. Then I plan out a story around this seed. Finally, I create the characters to serve the story. My method of composition inevitably leads to stories in which the speculative idea is the core."

Monday, 25 February 2019

Jacquemus’ Conjures the Warmth of a Summer Afternoon in his New Autumn Collection

Like a 1920s painting, the warm Mediterranean hues of a piazza in summer created in Paris by French designer Jacquemus for his new pret-a-porter collection. Picture by Elli Ioannou for DAM
Pastel-hued houses around a pretty piazza were the backdrop to Simon Porte Jacquemus's new Autumn/Winter 2019 show in Paris. The fluid designs had bright dashes of colour that conjured up the summer warmth of a Mediterranean afternoon, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Additional reporting and photography by Elli Ioannou
One of the pastel houses that form
the set for Jacquemus' new show 
FRENCH fashion designer Simon Porte Jacquemus created a Mediterranean town square with thirty-two pastel-hued houses that looked just like the fishermen's cottages enclosing a little Italian piazza on the island of Burano near Venice. Pot plants, flowers and colourful chairs were outside on the doorsteps, some even had laundry hanging out to dry from the windows. There was a Place Jacquemus with a storefront of Fruits et Legumes, Chez Marco (fleuriste) and a Rue Corbusier.

It was atmospheric and captured the warmth of summer, felt especially on a cold, dark Paris night in winter. The show was created within a large hangar-like space in the Avenue de la Porte-de-la-Villette, a lane in the 19th arrondissement at the Paris Event Centre on the periphery of the city.

In a more modest, yet singularly charming way, the show brought back the memory of Karl Lagerfeld's last, brilliant haute couture show in January at the Grand Palais where he recreated a French garden and villa on the Côte d'Azur.

Jacquemus created a town square surrounded by thirty-two pastel-hued houses

This season, Jacquemus says he wanted to incorporate the line of a Picasso drawing, the colours of his favourite paintings and move beyond his signature South of France aesthetic. He said he also wanted to mix up the masculinity and femininity of the collection, including silk suits and trompe l'oeil knitwear and add elements of both winter and summer. The designer called the collection La Collectioneuse, inspired by a collector of eclectic objects from Memphis prints to painted jeans.

Rich oranges and ochres were a
leitmotif in the collection
The collection included Seventies style orange culottes, coats recalling his new menswear line, pantsuits, skirt and sweater combinations and jackets with utilitarian pockets for the gadgets we all carry around with us.

Capturing the colours of the Riviera were splashes of vivid fuchsia, various hues of orange, emerald green and sapphire sea-blue. There were quirky, crystalline earrings where almonds, nougat and family pictures appeared suspended in clear polycarbonate looking rather like upmarket keyrings.

Accessories have been one of Jacquemus's strengths, including his bags and shoes. This season there were variations on the boot with some over the knee like waders and others with chunky, wooden heels. There were also belt-bags that were very commodious and these were contrasted with tiny, elegant handbags called the Mini Chiquito barely big enough for a lipstick.

In a singularly charming way, it recalled Karl Lagerfeld's last, brilliant couture show at the Grand Palais

Bright pink, like bougainvillea on a wall
in the South of France
Born into a family of farmers, the designer grew up in a small town in southern France. This upbringing has always informed his work and the ochre colours of the South are found as a leitmotif through his work. Just over a decade ago, when he was eighteen, he left for Paris.

He studied first at the École supérieure des arts et techniques de la mode (ESMOD) before leaving the program to work as a stylist at a fashion magazine. He began his own career as a fashion designer when he was twenty years old and created his brand Jacquemus, using his mother's maiden name.

In 2012, he presented his collection during Paris Fashion Week. His work initially became known for the fabrics he used in his collections such as workwear textiles and a simple, unadorned cut with prints inspired by French films. He has been hailed as an innovator with a new French egalitarian style that is both imaginative and highly wearable.

The designer takes his signature exhberant bow
at the end of the show
Jacquemus has received recognition for his work, including the Special Jury award by the LVMH Prize, an international competition created by Delphine Arnault for young fashion designers.
Two years ago, Jacquemus added a line of footwear to his collections which has been key to his shows along with handbags and some extraordinary hats, such as the enormous straw bolero that was seen in many magazine shoots.

Building on his growing brand, the designer last year launched his menswear collection and had a very successful showing for his second outing last month with his take on workwear, shown at an informal breakfast where bread, croissants and fruit were eaten by guests and models alike.

Tap on photographs to see more highlights from the show