Oroma Elewa

To be honest I know almost nothing about her, a part from the fact that she photographs amazingly and writes about "African and African diaspora forms of cultural expression". However, I am still completely fascinated/entranced/obsessed.

The photo is from Maya Villiger. Thanks!


Paris A/W'12 - Balenciaga and Nina Ricci

Balenciaga and Nina Ricci were fun shows because they both had little stories behind them, and when each look came out you could imagine the woman who was wearing the clothes and how she had put them together.

Balenciaga's collection was a whole office of women, dressing according to their department and status. They ran the whole gamut from interns to CEOs, and boy do I hope that actual business women wear these clothes. Of course since it was Balenciaga it was all futuristic and shiny, even the model's hair and faces seemed to glow. It seems that the future for office workers is looking bright.
I felt that a lot of the ideas in this collection were a continuation of last season - unusual stiff, boxy silhouettes juxtaposed with looser fabrics and nipped waists; contrasting prints and textures; 80s leanings - and it's very satisfying watching a designer evolve in this way, slowly, with continuity. It's also a good sign that Nicolas Ghesquiere is hitting a creative stride, and I'm already excited to see where everything goes next season.

Far from being reflective and shiny, Nina Ricci was dark and gothic. But not in an overly serious way! Because far from Nina Ricci being about a femme fatale this season, it was about a girl dressing up as one. Sort of. I guess only if this girl's mother or grandmother was a femme fatale, because that's whose closets the hypothetical Ricci girl was raiding.

I loved how the clothes managed to reflect dress-ups - baggy and haphazard, sleeves dragging past hands and old fashioned lace and tweed - without ever actually looking ill-fitted or like costumes. All that loose fabric was incredibly seductive, like how a proper ("proper" from a middle-class Australasian perspective) Parisian woman should look, at any age from her 20s to 40s, running around and breaking mens' hearts. It's a shame that Carine Roitfeld is no longer at Paris Vogue, these are the kind of clothes I can see her working with exceptionally well for the magazine.

all images from vogue.com


Milan A/W'12 - Jil Sander

So this was Raf Simons last collection at Jil Sander. Which makes the whole thing pretty emotional to begin with, but factor in a serene set and soundtrack and clothes which carry a rare emotional weight and all of a sudden you have an unforgettable fashion moment. I got shivers looking at these clothes guys! Shivers! Which is usually reserved for in movies when there is slow motion and the perfect song and somebody is about to die or something.

Every critic has already written about them more eloquently than me, but god the poetry of those clutched coats. Elegance, poise, and vulnerability. I do wonder if it was a gesture of Simons' reflecting his current state of mind. That is probably a complete projection of my own, but that theory seems too wonderfully poignant to ignore. Or sentimental of course. There was also something too perfectly smooth about the pink coats. I just want to reach into my computer screen and touch them! They make me think of the smooth, delicious looking food you get in clay-mation. Anyone watch Pingu? As a little kid I wanted to eat those cakes so bad. So I guess what you can take from this is that I want to eat these coats.

A lovely story was created for the collection, a day in the life of a women. She spends the morning with her lover, takes the children to school, spending the day at home. Some suggested it was about the day in the life of a relationship, but something that Simons wrote in a 'Nostalgia' article for US Vogue makes me think that it was more about the individual than about the couple. While talking about his last three collections, the 'couture trilogy', he said:

"The last three collections have also been about the care and attention with which women put themselves together in that era [1950s]; an idea of prefeminist empowerment derived from that. They've been about women, and what women do, and what they do when they are with other women, the lives they have when you remove them from the culture of men. I talk a lot about this with my design team. What does a woman do all day, from waking up, her career, the husband, the kids, the moments when she takes time for herself?"

And while he was talking about previous collections, this sounds a lot like the story he constructed for this collection, and the ideas it explores. And of course around the time that this Vogue article was written, he must have been designing this season.

With all the sweetness there was never anything predictable about the collection, and the series of black looks at the end was a nice twist. Tim Blanks at style.com wrote wonderfully about the chaos it implied, the chaos that is unavoidable in even the perfect day. In particular he mentioned the black shine that peeked out of Julia Nobis' dress, and what a fantastic visual metaphor it was. And this is one reason that I love fashion criticism so much; if you get the right critic, clothes can be interpreted as intelligently, and as much can be read into it, as a painting.

Jil Sander has always been about tailoring, line and shape, and that those elements be conveyed as minimally and cleanly as possible. Which creates a strong identity for the label, but it also creates a lot of restrictions creatively. In the same article for Vogue, Simons said something about Jil Sander that I felt was very revealing: "It's a brand that can expand only when it goes out of its own borders, which were very strict and limited". What was so magnificent about Raf Simons at Jil Sander is that he pushed the label beyond the white shirt into unexplored creative realms with new colours, shapes and feminine identities - all that without ever compromising the integrity of the label. I'm sad he's gone, and I hope we see him again in womenswear as soon as possible.

And with that I leave you with this picture that holds a lot of the elegance that embodied Simons' designs.

all images from vogue.com