Bee's knees: McQueen brand looks ahead with sting in step
A STRONG Paris fashion week drew to a close yesterday after many outstanding collections, none quite as beautiful and original as that of Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen held in Centquatre, an arts centre in the 19th arrondissement. The theme was bees, the shapes they create, and a study of femininity. “Theirs is a matriarchal society where females rule. We looked at erotica, at the Vargas girls, [famous airbrushed pinups from the 1930s], cages, corsets and crinolines,” Burton said. “It’s about sensuality and skin, but not about nudity.”
The wasp-waisted pencil suits in honeycomb prints with tortoiseshell belts or moulded resin bustiers opening the show remained true to that familiar McQueen shapeliness. Jackets peeled away from the neck and shoulder line revealed tortoiseshell panels or sheer, crystal-studded net. Crystal cuffs and chokers were encrusted with jewelled bees and beekeeper hats were veiled in honeycomb lace.
The dresses, a modern take on crinolines, were equally striking. Soft and romantic, they came in sugary colours, all swirling ruffles and flower-strewn embroideries. Not just ultra-feminine, they were also a credit to the workmanship and handcraft of the worker bees who created them and who were rewarded by a standing ovation at the end of the show.
If the week was dominated by the so-called “clash of the titans” at Dior and YSL, in which two new creative heads of two opposing luxury brands were pitted against each another, it would seem that game, set and match went to Dior.
The secrecy and limited invitation list for YSL also drew widespread criticism from buyers and press and counterpointed the more open and accommodating attitude at Dior.
The final big show of the week was Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton yesterday in the Cour Carrée of the Louvre, which opened with models descending in pairs down elevators in a set created by artist Daniel Buren. Jacobs cleverly and adroitly played with the grid patterns of Vuitton’s Damier motif, ignoring the house signature monogram for the first time.
It made for a zingy, graphic line-up of slim-fitting suits in chequerboard patterns in a variety of spring shades such as green and white or lemon and white, with an equal variety of jacket and skirt lengths. The sparkling embellished fabrics used throughout, creating fluid metallic surfaces, were tufted from thousands of tiny sequins. The result was a cool precision that seemed just right for a new season, justifying Vuitton’s recent ranking as the best global brand in the fashion sector.
Dubliner at the heart of Marc Jacobs enterprise
Few people know that Marc Jacobs’s right-hand woman is Dubliner Aisling Ludden, design and research director of Jacobs’s womenswear collections who has worked closely with him for 12 years, dividing her time between Paris and New York. A graduate of NCAD, she interned as a student with Ib Jorgensen and Michael Mortell and, having gained an MA from the RCA in London in 1999, had jobs with Diesel and Max Mara in Italy before joining Jacobs.
“I work with great people and it is incredibly stimulating and challenging. Marc is very inspiring,” she says.
Married to an American lawyer, they live on the Left Bank in Paris with their small son Isaac.
Spring Trends for 2013
Lots of black and white
Transparency – sheer mixed with opaque
A-line and tent dresses and shorter lengths
Lightweight fabrics, metallics and more graphic prints
Jacket dresses – Dior’s had pleats Tuxedo suits
Architectural cuts counterbalanced with softness