— The Fashionista

Posts tagged "Spring 2012"

When she took over at McQueen last year, Sarah Burton quietly promised that she’d try to bring a new sense of softness and female-minded wearability to the collection and, despite being just a tad busy these past couple months, she’s already delivering. The spotlight trained on Burton now is relentless. Even a resort collection, which might formerly have slipped by without much comment, is now the subject of immense interest, especially as it’s likely to contain semi-hidden, non-runway gems that might be picked out by the likes of, say, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, or Michelle Obama for tours, day events, photo-calls, state dinners, and the like.

Any surface reading of resort is proof that Burton is already brilliant at interpreting clothes for all these modern calibrations of formality. The current collection—built around the centrifugal idea of romantic utility—contains everything from signature McQueen tailored pants and high-necked white blouses to graceful mid-length skirts with a luxurious ruffled hem before going all the way through to embassy-ready gold-embellished suits and ball-worthy fantasias made out of fairy-fingered embroidery on tulle.

Part of her genius is the way she’s staying completely faithful to the McQueen templates while also easing the silhouette to present it at its most flattering. Two spectacular dresses with trains—one with white lace, inspired by shells, on pink, and the other with gold bullion cornfield-and-flower embroidery set against nude tulle—are cut to the body and beautifully slim from the torso to thigh before trailing out into layered skirts. The raised waists of the coats, jackets, and day-dresses, all cinched with wide-strapped leather belts, are similarly calculated to strike a great proportion. Add the elongating new length, with its swanky, swishing movement, and you have something that exudes a grown-up, modern presence without any hint of stiffness or fashion-for fashion’s-sake.

Close-up, too, this collection only gets more desirable. Burton’s smart analysis of how to break beautiful fashion into wearable parts has lead her to make a fantastic white ribbon dress (which surely has Middleton’s name on it), but also to offer a pencil skirt and a gorgeous peplum jacket as accessible variants. As for Burton working away in her studio in Clerkenwell? She shows every sign of handling the pressure with the serenity that allowed her to get through the royal wedding with such aplomb and privacy and, even better, the sparkle in her eye says she’s enjoying every minute of it.

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Acne presented its spring collection on a long runway against a huge mirror backdrop that reflected back the audience’s view of itself. It turned the already cavernous show space’s four graffiti-tagged floors (or was it five? or six? After a while climbing, you gave up counting) above London’s New Oxford Street into a venue bigger than it really was. A neat trick, given that Acne has magnified its ambitions for itself, mirroring the story that many in the fashion world has aspired to tell in the last two decades—that is, doing much more than that you originally became known, or even if you’re lucky, renowned, for. Acne, a Swedish denim company that coasted to the top with its skinny-fit jeans when Stockholm became the epicenter of the five-pocket world five or so years ago, spawned a million imitators. Yet its creative director, Jonny Johansson, has long nursed a dream for the company to be more than a purveyor of cool denim, wanting it to be taken seriously as a name that can show what it can do on the runway: to be the little jeans label that could. So the Acne crew headed to London, and here they all are, a few seasons on, in a vast silver-mirrored room, showing that Acne can indeed do what Johansson always hoped it could, and rather brilliantly at that.

Johansson has for some time now been playing with the idea of super-inflated volume, just as Raf Simons was starting to articulate the same thought at Jil Sander. If Simons went off down the classic-couture route, to startlingly chic effect, Johansson stayed within the tropes of street style, blowing up sweatshirts, biker leathers, track pants, and men’s shirts. Often they worked, and sometimes they didn’t, but here, for spring 2012, it all coalesced beautifully: partly because of his great color palette (gleaming white and indigo played off pink, rust, orange, and purple); partly because Johansson has learned to deflate the look and scale back the proportions of some of his designs; and partly because jeans of the faded-blue stonewashed or white cotton drill varieties played such a key role in the show. For instance, Johansson sculpted raw denim into an A-line skirt worn with a gleaming black, blue, and silver leather biker jacket, or as a bustle-back coat over a nude dress with star cutouts, while the white drill was worked into wide crop pants traced with seams, or as a flared skirt worn under a billowing black cotton dress and a slick/sick 1970s-green sleeveless jacket.

Yet for all the proportion play, Johansson did that seemingly simple but often fiendishly elusive thing to achieve, especially thus far this season: give cool girls around the globe something new and fun to wear every day. From Acne next spring, that could mean a techno couture parka over a cocktail dress, or a leather skirt as buckled and zippered as any Perfecto, or loafers and flat ankle-strap sandals swishing with oversize tassels, which caused a little sigh of desire from more than one woman sitting near me every time they appeared.

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