This article titled “Chainmail, lemons and the Memphis Group: an introduction to autumn/winter 2017 fashion” was written by Guardian fashion, for theguardian.com on Thursday 14th September 2017 15.01 UTC
All smiles at Oscar de la Renta
Oscar de la Renta was one of fashion’s best-loved talents. As such, he’s a big act to follow, but new creative directors Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia are off to an impressive start with their A/W 17 debut of party dresses and strappy sandals.
The couple have already made their name with Monse, launched in 2015. The label’s deconstructed shirts and dresses were an instant hit, worn by Sarah Jesssica Parker and spotted on Lady Gaga and Amal Clooney. “We take a fabric that everyone is comfortable with and unhinge it,” Garcia explains. “If our clients look like they’ve taken more than five minutes to get dressed, we’ve failed.”
If you’re wondering why two upstart creatives have been given top jobs at one of New York’s most establishment labels, well, it’s because the pair learned their trade at Oscar’s knee, Garcia as senior designer, Kim as studio director. “Oscar was always pushing us to see the newest, youngest ideas,” Kim says, “to move forward but keep it very Oscar.” It sounds as if his legacy is in safe hands.
Art School and the new nonbinary
Wo/menswear Art School’s all-singing, all-dancing debut at London fashion week men’s in January prompted many goofy grins. It’s hard, after all, not to crack a smile seeing joyful dancers – male and female – throwing shapes in clothes designed for the dancefloor: sparkly jackets, satin slipdresses and deep red velvet.
This is the work of Eden Loweth and Tom Barratt, 23 and 22, the couple who founded Art School after graduating in menswear and art criticism respectively last year. “We started seeing each other just as I was doing my final collection. It became super-shared,” Loweth says. “We wanted to do something that represents how people in our generation live and brings the excitement back into fashion.”
For their June show, friends modelled a collection that worked as a shared wardrobe. It involved men in ballgowns, women in suits, in what the press release called “the unfolding narrative of nonbinary paradise to be indulged in”.
For Art School, nonbinary is key. “Gender is a construct. We know that,” Barratt says. He describes his own style as “like a teenage pop star”, while “Eden dresses like Cate Blanchett in Carol”. “It’s about creating who you are,” he says. At Art School, anything goes.
Les Girls Les Boys get intimate
Time was when mere mention of lingerie brand Agent Provocateur would conjure images of panicked partners on Valentine’s Day. It was shorthand for the saucy sexiness of the 90s.
2017’s sexy is a different ballgame – and Serena Rees, who co-founded Agent Provocateur in 1994, is back with a very different offering. Les Girls Les Boys is a “bed to street” range of “shareable, swapable pieces” for those who like to roll out of the former straight on to the latter. The aesthetic is pared back, with a slouch: “Les Girls Les Boys feels intimate,” Rees says, “without the focus being on ‘intimates’.”
Glossier comes to the UK
Few beauty brands can genuinely claim cult appeal, but Glossier – pronounced gloss-e-ay – is one of them. Founded by beauty blogger Emily Weiss in 2014, the site is now a fashion insiders’ favourite, loved for its no-nonsense products that work – the Boy Brow brow filler is an essential in any millennial’s makeup bag – and the minimal packaging with brand name spelt out in Barbara Kruger-like letters. Come next month, for the first time, the brand will be available in the UK.
Fiorucci is back (oh, what, wow)
When you launch a label as legendary as Fiorucci, details matter. Having He’s The Greatest Dancer by Sister Sledge as the hold music is a nice touch. The hit name-checks the Italian label that became the uniform of 70s disco goers, founder Elio Fiorucci’s pop logos and stretch denim gaining the kind of louche clientele who didn’t get out of bed until the afternoon.
When he comes to the phone, Stephen Schaffer, the man behind the relaunch and the new store in London’s Soho, says retail is crucial: “What Elio created 50 years ago was the template for the concept store we know today. It was the first time lifestyle went into retail. We want to redefine that.”
When Fiorucci’s store on 59th Street in New York opened in 1976 it was nicknamed “the daytime Studio 54” and was a hangout for Madonna, Keith Haring and Andy Warhol. Schaffer hopes for the same in Brewer Street: “The ground floor is like Warhol’s studio, the upstairs a home from home.” In the age of online shopping, he is out to make real life exciting again. “Fiorucci was always about the store. It’s an experience and we’re creating that.”
Read all about it: APC at 30
APC has long been the label of choice for anyone who wants to add a little je ne sais quois to their wardrobe. But do you know how long it’s been going? Thirty years! Who’d have thought it? To celebrate this milestone anniversary, APC’s creative director Jean Touitou has put together a tome. There’s a section on him, a section to explain the APC ethos and a final part in praise of the clothes, the shoes and the excellent novelty items that have been made in the last three decades, from guitar pick pin badges to key rings and quilts. It’s the perfect guide to being cool and Parisian. APC Transmission by Jean Touitou is published by Phaidon at £49.95.
Easy Peasy lemon pleasey
The influence of Beyoncé’s lemonade continues, if the number of lemon prints is anything to go by. Bey-approved lemons are fashion’s fruit of choice. See Kate Spade’s nightwear, which also features rosebud and confetti prints, but we’ll be wearing the lemon chemise to bed, remembering that if you’re served lemons, the best thing to do is make lemonade.
Corduroy’s parallel universe
Corduroy is such a 90s fabric. There was the band of the same name – those old enough will remember their hit Mini. It was Jarvis Cocker’s signature look and worn by a pogoing Damon Albarn. With a revival of all things from the decade that gave us slipdresses, chokers and Britpop, it’s not much of a surprise that cord is enjoying another moment this season, from the Prada catwalk to the Finery website and the Topman store.
How to wear it now without looking like a throwback to student halls, charity shops and lager, lager, lager? Trousers should be wide and loose, the kind of shape that might just as easily be seen on Oscar Wilde. (Corduroy is, in fact, as much from the 1790s as the 1990s – it was originally developed as a menswear fabric in the 18th century and is known for its durability.) No wonder, centuries later, Miuccia Prada used it in a collection fuelled by what she called “the desire for humanity, simplicity and reality”. Sounds lovely – and the perfect clever excuse, way beyond that 90s revival, for wearing a pair of corduroy trousers.
Topshop: you want it, you got it
Have you ever wanted to channel Caddyshack’s Al Czervik, with his golf bag phone and his “buy, buy, buy” attitude? Topshop is here to help with its new “shoppable now” collection. Heritage knitwear, intricately embellished crop tops, double-breasted sky blue blazers, silky cream dresses with pearl buttons and brown overcoats with fuzzy red collars will all go on sale the second the last model leaves the catwalk at Topshop’s London fashion week show this month. The prices might sit higher than those of your Joni jeans – these outfits are more grown-up than school disco – but with the average garment around £75, they also won’t break the bank.
Valentino takes a trip to Memphis
Among Valentino’s inspirations this season are Victoriana and Memphis. While Victoriana’s sedate glamour makes sense, the wacky colours and childlike design principles of the 80s architectural Memphis Group are harder to get your head around. But the candy shades and graphic motifs look a dream on Valentino’s wafty dresses. And if your life lacks opportunity for waft, the handbags look a postmodern picture, too.
Yves Saint Laurent’s accessories
When Yves Saint Laurent started out in 1955, hats, gloves and jewellery were standard daywear for the society ladies he designed for. Though he was a major force in blowing apart the conventions of how women should dress, Saint Laurent remained a loyal lover of accessories. This new artbook dives into the Saint Laurent archive and, through sketches, Polaroids and catwalk shots, documents the master designer’s skill. There are his jewel-encrusted crosses, shoes decorated with monster flowers and lots and lots of gold buttons. It’s a jewel of a book. Yves Saint Laurent Accessories is published by Phaidon on 2 October at £39.95.
GmbH find beauty in the banal
The standout piece of GmbH’s autumn collection is a reassembled Helly Hansen jacket that sums up the Berlin label’s agenda. “The collection is about memories, from our childhood to club culture,” says co-founder Serhat Isik. “We grew up wearing these.”
The name – German for a private limited company – ties into their design, says fellow founder Benjamin Alexander Huseby: “We look for beauty in the banal. We want to reflect reality, not escape from it.”
Their next collection dives into their past – Isik is Turkish-German, Huseby is Norwegian-Pakistani. He refers to “the tension shaking Europe now”, but he has hope: “Fashion is more diverse than art. We still believe that.” gmbhofficial.com
The Kooples bag every It girl needs
The Kooples’ Emily bag is a collaboration between the French label and American model Emily Ratajkowski. As tribute bags go, it’s decidedly considered. It has several straps, so you can wear it in alternative ways, comes in different sizes and is made from calfskin or velvet. The Kooples describe her as “one of the most feminine and feminist It girls”. As muses go, Ratajkowski is a good one.
Michael Halpern shines
Michael Halpern is only 29 but the New York-born Parsons graduate has already lived several fashion lives, moving from minimalist luxury brand J Mendel, to Oscar de la Renta, to Central Saint Martins in London to study for an MA, to Atelier Versace, where he still works as a consultant, but he launched Halpern the label at London fashion week in February.
He describes himself as “a magpie, drawn to anything that shines” and this first collection is all sequin, satin and patent. His debut was based in part on women at the ultimate party – Studio 54 – but he shook up the 70s recipe of hedonistic glamour. “I love those images but it can get really costumey if it’s just that,” he says. “It sounds hokey but you have to listen to the fabric.”
His clothes have already become a siren call to red-carpet names but while he’s looking at the stars, his feet are firmly on the ground. “Most of my friends are doctors or lawyers,” he explains. “If I say, ‘I’m going to Cannes with Marion Cotillard’, they say, ‘Who?’”
A Cold Wall* tells tales
If proof were needed that the best things in life defy categorisation, look no further than A Cold Wall*, the brainchild of Samuel Ross. He has a background in graphic design and says the label’s style is not so much streetwear as “a design project that has toppled into fashion”.
Based in Leyton, east London, 25-year-old Ross was “discovered” by Virgil Abloh of Off-White fame, who hired him as an assistant in 2013. Four years later, Ross was showing his first collection of post-industrial menswear and the label, which takes a fresh look at tailoring and outerwear in avant garde materials, has already been snapped up by high fashion stores such as Barneys.
Ross has said this is because his take on British working-class culture – which is informed by music and comes from a black perspective – hasn’t often been seen in fashion. “People still think about hooligans but there are these other really rich subculture tales that haven’t been told,” he says. “I’m just telling that story.” a-cold-wall.com
Bet your shirt on Blouse
Geoffrey Finch knows what you want before you do. The Australian designer, formerly of Antipodium, a label loved by the likes of Alexa Chung and Jenna Coleman, is back with a new brand. Blouse is a unisex shirting range, now in its second collection, that was born after he started “to think about what was really modern”. For Finch, that’s blouses and T-shirts designed to reflect “a sense of propriety but a displaced gender play”. That means deconstructed shirting, sometimes with a lace insert under the collar, or school blazers made luxe in nappa leather. Our advice? Buy into Blouse now.
Chainmail: the new metallic
If you have ever wanted to look like one of King Arthur’s knights crossed with a disco ball, chainmail is for you. At JW Anderson, it came wrapped round waists and shone through vents on skirts. At Versus, Bella Hadid’s earrings flashed like dangling sardines and metallic dresses contrasted with hot-pink fluffy jumpers. At Gucci, models wore chainmail face masks; a look Rihanna wore “phresh out” at Coachella. RiRi meets Lancelot: what’s not to love?
This article appears in the autumn/winter 2017 edition of The Fashion, the Guardian and the Observer’s biannual fashion supplement
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