The crazy, mixed up world of fashion

What does it say about the current state of fashion when at Emilio Pucci in Milan, a house synonymous with bright, exuberant color and pattern, designer Christian Lacroix saw fit to open his fall/winter 2005 show on a somber note, with a severe and simple black dress and boots (and kept the theme going pretty much throughout)? Or conversely, thatin Paris, Yohji Yamamoto, whose trademark intellectual, somber, black-laden designs, which have seemingly served as a reference point throughout the runways (including that of Marc Jacobs) opened HIS collection with a brilliant fuchsia coat trimmed with large bows, threw in some lacquer red, and even used a colorful swirling patterned chiffon to add relief to the almost all black runway? Or for that matter, at a moment when everyone seems to be in a couture like, romantic, feminine mode, Valentino (Mr. Couture himself) does an about face, concentrating on far more restrained, sporty, and practical daytime clothes with an emphasis on pants? And speaking of Marc Jacobs – that this designer did NOT continue at Louis Vuitton in Paris (which was more of an ode to ‘Parisian Chic’) what he began in New York (namely his flirtation with artsy, exaggerated volume)?

Because Marc Jacobs’s New York show garnered so much attention early on (thanks to its uncharacteristic emphasis on dark, voluminous, long layers with a decidedly intellectual 80’s Japanese vibe), one may have assumed that volume would be THE ‘BIG’ (pardon my pun) story everywhere else (so much so that P. Diddy might even be prompted to change his name back to ‘Puff’ Daddy when September rolls around). Thankfully, that was hardly the case. While volume may have been a strong message at some collections, it was hardly the only message. and in fact, many of the world’s most influential visionaries ignored it entirely. Quite frankly, perhaps the best most modern and appealing clothes (from my point of view), were those that were lean and mean, straight and narrow as an arrow, almost severe, and entirely modern and chic as exemplified by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Nicolas Guesquiere for Balenciaga, Olivier Theyskens, Ralph Lauren.

But once again, this time (as it has increasingly become in seasons past), it is virtually impossible to hitch the season on just ONE word, one trend, and one look. The LACK of one trend is THE TREND. Though one can certainly point to a generalized restraint, sobriety, and low- keyed approach taken by designers who are striving or struggling to define the idea of ‘modern’ or ‘modern glamour’ and are showing their disdain for bourgeois ostentation through far more wearable, commercial designs. And while there may be as many interpretations of ‘modern glamour’ as there are fashion designers, many do seem to be on the same wavelength. For example, Stefano Pilati who has now designed two collections for Yves St. Laurent Rive Gauche told’s Sarah Mower, “I think now we want to be chic, considered, and rigorous. “We want self-respect; and not to show our wealth so much.”

And as Miuccia Prada told Guy Trebay, “Beauty in Tatters”, Wednesday 23, “Today, this idea of sparkling beauty is old-fashioned and impossible, kind of retro and out of date. From a creative point of view, I only like the idea of this kind of beauty when somehow it is damaged or destroyed.” Which doesn’t mean of course, that one must forego ornamentation or erase it from one’s vocabulary. Just look at the way Oscar de la Renta managed to imbue his decorated and lavishly ornamental fall collection with a modern, youthful verve epitomized in his use of grommets and nail heads and large coin size discs (one of the best examples was his use of the above on a narrow leather jacket paired with trousers).

It may sound clichéd but it’s true: there truly IS something for everyone, since fall 2005 is highly contradictory, ‘bi polar’, schizophrenic, a study in contrasts, and as a result, there are many options and choices: ‘point/counterpoint’, if you will. Of course, this is right in keeping with the way most of us buy clothes, though it’s not exactly what retailers want to hear since they’re in the business of selling schmattas. Rather than investing in head to toe wardrobes from specific designers each season, customers carefully pick and chose and refresh their existing closets as whim and necessity warrant.

– Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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