From ‘Runway to Reality’

Haute couture may not be relevant for most women, but in her The New York Times review of the first day of couture shows in Paris, Cathy Horyn touched on something that is. As she put it, “Women still have to wear these clothes…the trick is to dress women and, at the same time, say something that keeps the cool-seekers engaged.” Indeed, one of the best things designers can do for women these days especially, is to show them cool, modern ways to wear the familiar time worn favorites and classics, and give them a modern spin.

Of course, as Ms. Horyn pointed out, this is something that was the signature of Yves St. Laurent . As she put it, “St. Laurent is a master at building on the familiar, knowing that some women don’t want that much change.” And this continues to be a strong signature of Jean Paul Gaultier, who like Mr. St. Laurent, obsessively reinvents classics like trenchcoats, pantsuits, or pea jackets, but by mixing them with street elements, brings them into the 21st century.

As we head into the fall/winter 2003 collections, it seems that designers are once again yearning to touch bases with reality, and are seeking authenticity in their collections. This is something that was voiced by some of the designers I spoke with (when I asked how they see the coming season), and it is something that seems very much in the air (as illustrated by the recent fall/winter 2003 menswear shows in Milan, where Tom Ford hit on 70’s military themes- yet again, and Ralph Lauren strove to update his “iconic classics”. This seems more than likely to be translated for their women’s collections. In other words, don’t expect to find distressed denim bustle ballskirts paired with beaded tops this time around on Ralph’s runway, he will be going back to more signature statements.

On another note, you know you’ve been in the fashion business too long, when the sight of Lara Flynn Boyle, dressed as a slightly fetishist ballerina, ceases to be shocking, or even look strange. It certainly doesn’t look strange when you think about runways filled with over the top statement making clothing (as typified by couture and designers like John Galliano.) This was brought home in today’s ‘Fashion’ section of The New York Times, where along with Cathy Horyn’s review of couture, there was an article on the Golden Globes. Just a little above the picture of Lara Flynn Boyle- dressed in her pink tutu- there was a shot of Jean Paul Gaultier’s “impressionistic cors de ballet” haute couture ensemble which had a very similar feeling. As they say- ‘from runway to reality.’

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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