— The Fashionista

I was twisting and turning when I read Vogue’s review of Bouchra Jarrar. See: “Bouchra Jarrar is an exceptional creature indeed: one of the very few French talents to have emerged in the past few seasons, and certainly the only woman.” I beg to differ. Look at this collection, supposedly a couture collection. Call me a murderer, but this collection would feel more at home in a Hennes & Mauritz shop-at-home catalogue, rather than in couture sphere. After ten years as Nicolas Ghesquière’s assistant at Balenciaga, Jarrar worked for Christian Lacroix before his business failed, and then decided it was time to speak up for herself. Working with such talents, one would think she had some more brains, than to create a cheap, texture-less, boring, collection of immense failure. I will agree with Vogue when it comes to her pedigree in a seamstress point of view, her seams are good, but how can that account for the shapeless, but practical designs.

“Force, elegance, and continuity,” is how she described a collection in which she added pantsuits in English menswear-tailoring fabric and knitwear to her growing line of dresses—what Vogue calls, and I quote “the sort of thing which carries that inimitably Parisian quiet sence of quality and good taste.” Please tell me, when did Parisian style become that of H&M? Please… Another quote: “She branched into more color and pattern, injecting shots of electric blue and black-and-white stripes to the monochrome palette she began with.” Yet again, please… She never left the ways of monochrome designs. She does not belong to the realm of the new generation of modern luxury.

If you read this, Bouchra, I’m sorry to be frank, but someone has to. Either you sit down with yourself to figure out a new way of thinking, or you’ve got nothing in this industry to contribute with. Maybe H&M needs a ned head designer. You’d ace it.

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The first New York Fashion Week ever, then called Press Week, was at that time the world’s first organized fashion week. It was held in 1943, and the event was designed to attract attention away from French fashion during the 2nd World War, when the fashion industry insiders were unable to travel to Paris to see the French shows. Fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert organized an event she called “Press Week” to showcase American designers for fashion journalists, who had previously neglected their innovations. Buyers were not admitted to these shows, and instead, they had to visit designer showrooms. Lambert’s Press Week was a success, and fashion magazine like Vogue, which were normally filled with French designs, increasingly featured American fashion.

Press Week, 1943.

In retrospect to the Press Week held in 1943, Eleanor’s plans didn’t work out the way she had planned. Press Week became the laughing stock of the international fashion sphere, and was controlled by Paris and Milan. That is, until someone new entered the pitch.

In 1988, Anna Wintour, the British-born editor, took the role as Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue, after Grace Mirabella’s retirement. Anna changed the face of Vogue, as well as the face of the New York Fashion Week. Through the years she has come to be regards as one of the most powerful people in fashion, setting trends, and anointing new designers. Industry publicists often hear “Do you want me to go to Anna with this?” when they have differences with her subordinates. The Guardian has called her the “unofficial mayoress” of New York City. She has encouraged fashion houses such as Christian Dior to hire younger, fresher designers like John Galliano. Anna changed fashion, Anna gave new life to New York Fashion Week.

Anna Wintour.

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Perfection. Linda Evangelista. Italian Vogue. 1988.

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Katie Fogarty for Vogue Australia September Issue 2011. Perfection.

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Olivier Rousteing is the new designer at Balmain, but only in a manner of speaking. The 25-year-old Frenchman has already put in two and a half years at the house, working as an assistant to Christophe Decarnin just as Balmain burst to recognition in Paris with its superluxe rocker-girl aesthetic comprised of glitter pelmet dresses, skinny jeans, and “tennis ball”-shouldered jackets.

Resort is the first season in which Rousteing has had control of the collection since Decarnin’s exit earlier in the year, and by the looks of the “Elvis in Vegas” theme he’s worked, the precociously experienced designer (he has a pedigree that stretches back to working with Roberto Cavalli in Italy) is set on preserving continuity.

The designer wasn’t there to talk about this introductory season; the plan is to go public only after his first ready-to-wear collection for spring 2012 goes on the runway in early October. Still, from what was in the showroom (where the clothes could be inspected close-up), the inventory of biker jeans, faded coral sweatshirts, sun-bleached blue-and-orange Mexican-style embroidered dresses, lean pants with a glamorous slouch, and plenty of body-molding dresses smothered in gold embroidery and fringe, it was clear that Balmain’s reputation for casual dressing punched up with major bling is as central to house operations as ever.

While no conclusions should be prematurely drawn from what, after all, is an interim season, it’s evident that quality and cut are also priorities. These clothes aren’t cheap, and while the Elvis theme doesn’t exactly scream “classy,” there is a sophistication about the slim blazers and tailored boot-cut pants which augurs well.

A side note to Balmain: Please don’t fuck with the smoking jacket. It’s one of those clothing items you don’t alter. It’s a classic, but not the kind of classics like the little black dress. You just don’t alter the smoking jacket. Please. It’s stupid.

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“I wanted to start a dialogue with the new generation,” said Prabal Gurung, who joins the new wave of designers launching resort collections this season. And with Generation Z (aka Net Gen) at the forefront of his mind, a viral music video seemed the most plausible place to start.

Starring booty-shaking M.I.A. protégé Rye Rye, who donned Gurung’s hallucinatory, sixties-inspired florals and polka-dotted looks while bopping around a kaleidoscopic, rose-printed set (and belting out the aptly titled “New Thing”), the lauded designer (he received the CFDA Swarovski Award for Womenswear this year) has everyone’s attention yet again.

In the wake of fall’s somberly disheveled but well-executed Miss Havisham theme, this is a timely, uplifting turn around which, following Gurung’s sell-out J.Crew collaboration, will ensure that his younger clients stay tuned for the holiday season. “It started with George Condo and the work of Yayoi Kusama,” Gurung said of the comical and conceptual artists who captured his imagination. “I’ve always talked about the intelligent, strong woman and Kusama was all about feminism in the free-spirited sixties.” Taking that artistic pandemonium, Gurung manipulated it into a rigorous and playful roundup of Technicolor spotted cocktail dresses, degradé sheaths and a rich, clashing collage of blooming intarsia knits. It was a multimedia offering in its most literal sense hitting all of resort’s hyped-up baroque sportswear notes.

Furthermore, this may be his namesake’s pre-collection premiere, but as a seasoned designer (he started out at Bill Blass), Gurung has a keen sense of where and how to place his line in today’s market. “Nobody’s going on vacation with this stuff,” he said with a wry smile. “It’s about going back to the best-sellers people have been asking for, and reworking them into something fun.” And with the results shaping up to be as infectious as Rye Rye’s hooks, Gurung will undoubtedly get more than just the YouTube generation talking.

Well done, Prabal. Amongst my favorite resort 2012 collection, an absolute delight for the eyes. Eye candy <3

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