dispatches from fashion week

At PFW, the Customer Is Always Right

Photo: Imaxtree

Stella McCartney often uses the Opera Garnier — the most rococo of venues — as a backdrop for her anything-but-rococo collections. This time, there were loose at leisure jumpsuits, gathered denim boiler suits, and no-fuss dresses, some in contrasting scarf prints stitched together in haphazard but charming fashion. McCartney proceeded with the confidence of someone who knows her customer, citing “effortless movement and a fluid silhouette” in her show notes. And you’ve got to love a designer who wears a cozy, oversize gray sweater for her bow: Comfort, above all else, is her credo.

To get a sense of the age spectrum Giambattista Valli is designing for, you just had to peek at his from row, which contained both Lee Radziwill, hair piled high, and Coco Rocha, who was snapping away on her phone. But that’s the kind of spectrum Giambattista Valli is working with. For his fetching young “It” girls, the designer offered bow-and-scalloping-bedecked dresses the color of Quik strawberry milk and floral prints that foregrounded abstract shapes that looked a bit like musical notes. The older set got ’70s-style sets of matched separates. The white fringed pieces could work just as well for both types, or for Amal Alamuddin, who just wore one of Valli’s couture dresses on her wedding weekend in Venice. (Perhaps a minidress for Lake Como?) Pleasing such a wide swath of women isn’t easy, but Valli makes it look effortless.

Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent was inspired by the photo collages of Robert Heinecken; Heinecken was known for his appropriation of existing images, and so, too, does Slimane play with fashion’s postmodernist pastiche, seeming to steal but actually advancing the conversation. There were abbreviated dolly-bird dresses that bore a vague resemblance to thrift-store finds chopped to the owner’s liking, disco-era raiments adapted into modern clubwear, and flat, masculine hats left behind by a one-night stand passing through town. The teenagers outside clutching the barricades like they were at a Beyoncé concert should give you some idea of Slimane’s desired audience and his rock-star pull. Unlike the baby-boomer critics who carp about his supposed rummage-sale aesthetic, these kids don’t make much distinction between a Cherie Curri red leather miniskirt and a Klute-style trench, nor should they. It’s all fair game, and so long as it looks cool, why not?

 See the full Stella McCartney spring 2015 show here.

See the full Giambattista Valli spring 2015 show here.

See the full Saint Laurent spring 2015 show here.

At PFW, the Customer Is Always Right