On the Horizon

By Revekah Echols

Over-the-top fashion tends to be easier to accomplish in the fall

After all, there are layers, generosity of proportion and dramatic colors that are natural as part of dressing for the season. But no matter how you slice it, spring is always gamin and whimsical, euphoric and bright, and the expected and usual “tricks” bring the season to life.

Filmy fabrics, open necklines, floral and bucolic motifs and sun-washed pastels are always in the spring fashion repertoire and although there aren’t generally many surprises, it is always a welcome mirage to see at shows as the threat of a cold winter approaches. So when a gleaming black crocodile skirt suit trimmed in delicate, tonal Chantilly lace came stomping down the runway at Tom Ford, there was a feeling that change was on the horizon.

Ford continued an electrifying and yet moody spring show with black feather coats atop ruched, satin skirts and lavender head wraps; corseted skirt suits and spotted pony-skin obis wrapped around floor-length evening gowns. It was a futuristic film noir, and although no traces of fringe, stripes or embroidery were present, the collection still felt as relevant and contemporary as ever.

At Gucci, layers of shiny, acid yellow taffeta pleats twisted into every surface and tier of a fit-and-flare dress replete with white tights, round-toe velvet flats and smeared makeup, which nodded to a 1970s “Carrie” prom moment as much as it did the pristine aesthetic of pleating genius, designer Issey Miyake. Another look featured a velour tracksuit but with the straightforward proportions shifted to bell sleeves and harem pants and a hard-sided Mickey Mouse head bag to boot. The collection certainly didn’t feel like spring, but it also didn’t feel like fall or any other season. It was a collection in its own vintage, wacky, attic treasure universe. Creative director Alessandro Michele spoke to the undercurrent of the show, calling it “a bit dusty, a bit abandoned, but beautiful.”

Computer-generated music with projections of spewing magma preceded models at Balenciaga, where creative director Demna Gvasalia explored the human immersion in technology. The aesthetic skewed brutalist and sterile, with the first series of looks featuring blank-faced models in strong-shouldered coats made of pinstripe wool with molded hips and nipped waists. As the show went on, the clothes softened, as did the dystopian attitude, where Gvasalia’s gift of reinventing traditional ideas came into play. Lightweight shirt jackets that doubled as shirts with matching trousers; bright, two-piece evening dresses in silk georgette in varying lengths and one of the last looks, which featured a fire-engine red, one-shouldered evening dress with asymmetric sleeves and a train, all constructed from one piece of silk, four yards long. In this look, the marriage between humans and technology seemed utopic and not dooming, as the perfect cross section of creativity, progression, restraint and simplicity floated down the runway.

Whether the brash and contrarian feel to the season is just a coy riposte, a harbinger of warning or a full-out revolt, we will soon know. The blurring of seasons and aesthetics could have to do with our attempt to blur everything else, including sex, race and even objectivity, as well as the growing tension about where we are headed and how we continue to relate to each other. Such precariousness in society often relays itself in fashion in pragmatism and traditional touches, or in the case of this spring, suits with shiny purple lapels.