This is just one of the countless declarations made by Bonnie Cashin many decades ago. The fact that it doesn’t apply to her chic and functional sportswear designs makes it all the more interesting. Among the pioneering designer’s other memorable proclamations:
“Throw out of your wardrobe everything single item you don’t really enjoy wearing. Why you may be wearing some dull spiritless thing at the very moment that opportunity (any kind) knocks, and you may very well not be able to rise to the occasion.” – Bonnie Cashin
“Learn to edit, to make choices, and never live near Seventh Avenue.”
“Fashion should be pure enjoyment. Our closets are shockingly overstuffed. One does not need clothing for practical reasons. One only needs new clothing to feel wonderful in.”
“To function in a complicated world calls for uncomplicated clothes.”
“God bless the martini- the great leveler.”
Of the many fashion truisms ingrained in my mind, most were articulated by the world’s most celebrated fashion designers. But not all. It was Mark Twain who stated: “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society”.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but you can’t underestimate the power of words. When chosen carefully and said simply, they can have a tremendous impact. With this in mind, I connected the dots between some of my favorite sage quotations and fashion today.
“Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life”- Bill Cunningham
Bill meant this metaphorically and literally. Clothes telegraph to the world who we are. Like it or not, we are all judged by what we wear. But clothing is also an all-important layer that covers, protects, and shields us from the elements.
Given our increasingly harsh winters (and the move away from furs), puffer coats have almost taken over the world. Under certain circumstances, they act as your own portable environment. Sleeping bag coats are plainly ubiquitous, but nobody does them better or more artfully than Moncler which originated in 1952, with its roots in sleeping bag coats and performance ski wear. The Moncler Genius collection, which espouses the idea of ‘One house, different voices” is, well, pure genius.
Among the standouts for fall 2019 is Pierpaolo Piccioli’s collaboration with model and designer Liya Kebede. Piccioli admitted that he was going after a balance of dreaminess, extravagance, and soulfulness. He said he wanted to connect diversities to create an inclusive creativity. Mission Accomplished! It is absolutely stunning.
For Moncler Grenoble, Sandro Mandrino combined two seemingly disparate worlds- mountaineering and music festivals — resulting in a joyful riot of color and print. “The mountain is where Moncler Grenoble belongs, which means that performance is focal,” said Mandrino. “I stuck to the brief in terms of fabrics and shapes, but went the opposite way in terms of treatments, opting for tie-dye, fringes, and patchworks that have a crafty feel. Still, you can ski in these.” Very cool, indeed!
Craig Green has an avowed fascination with architecture and space as they relate to clothes. This season he played with bold volumes made of a sum of light modules that can be folded, flattened, and packed, creating shapes that shrink and grow. The resulting garments look like a cross between sleeping bags, snowsuits, and lifeboats. And yes, more than a few seem like they could prepare you for a walk on the moon.
“I have often said that I wish I had invented blue jeans: the most spectacular, the most practical, the most relaxed and nonchalant. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, and simplicity – all I hope for in my clothes.” – Yves Saint Laurent
Trends may come and go, but jeans stand the test of time and remain iconic, universal, genderless, seasonless wardrobe workhorses. They go from day to evening, are shown both plain and fancy, and in numerous washes.
For his fall 2019, Celine collection Hedi Slimane revisited Paris of the late 1970s with silhouettes imbued with an unapologetic vintage vibe. Hedi fully endorsed skinny jeans which he tucked into tall boots. They were shown with distinctive knitwear, well-tailored suit jackets, mannish overcoats, and swaggering capes.
Catherine Holstein’s blue jeans with suede paneling are part of her sophisticated and sculptural resort 2020 collection for Khaite. The designer said she was inspired by the American Southwest.
Denim is an ongoing obsession at Colovos. Their signature jeans, which are always being re-invented, are high-waisted, just a little baggy, and are instant best-sellers.
Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing doesn’t do basic, and that applies to showing his jeans. He loves them faded, if not distressed, and they are mainstays of his collections, which are known for their use of intricate, traditional couture techniques.
“Elegance is elimination”- Cristobal Balenciaga
Iris Apfel believes, “More is more and less is a bore,” and there is validity in that. However, there is something irrefutably appealing about clothing that is streamlined, uncomplicated, and devoid of surface decoration.
Champions of minimalism like Joseph, The Row, Jil Sander, Narciso Rodriguez, Yeohlee, and Ralph Rucci, promote designs that are understated, architectural, and monastic.
Speaking of the first American designer since Mainbocher to show a couture collection in Paris. Seventeen years later (on June 25th), Rucci presented his RR 331 Fall/Winter 2019/2020 Couture Collection at the Ritz Hotel in Paris. It was a study in pared-down simplicity, in keeping with a creator whose design heroes are Balenciaga and Halston.
“People will stare. Make it worth their while.” — Harry Winston
There is a time and place for everything, including the fantastical and show-stopping (perhaps even more so given our Instagram-able world). Harry Winston could have easily been referring to Rei Kawakubo’s highly conceptual, art to wear, unconventional designs. They enable us to see (and think about) fashion, beauty, gender, sex, and the world, in a new and different light.
Iris van Herpen’s futuristic designs using 3D printing and technology blur the lines between fashion and pure art and command attention as well.
Guo Pei knows a thing or two about designing clothes that will make people stare. The Chinese designer is best known for creating Rihanna’s spectacular yellow gown at the 2015 Met Ball. Guo is only the second born-and-raised Asian designer to be invited to become a guest member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. Among her otherworldly creations for Fall 2019 Couture, is the opening number which features a “two-for-one” Marie Antoinette pannier skirt “inhabited” by ghostly twins.
“A little bad taste is like a nice splash of paprika. We all need a splash of bad taste—it’s hearty, it’s healthy, it’s physical. I think we could use more of it. No taste is what I’m against.” —Diana Vreeland