PARIS--One of the most difficult tasks in fashion is how to evolve an established brand--in this case the venerable house of Valentino and its tremendous couture heritage--into something relevant. In the two and a half years since their first couture outing, designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli’s vocabulary at Valentino has been a back and forth debate regarding how much respect must be paid to the house’s history. At Wednesday morning’s fall couture show at the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild, the designers were able to strike this delicate balance. The Valentino craftsmanship and many of the house’s codes--laces, sheer chiffon and ruffles--were all present, but reworked in new and subtle ways. This collection of day and evening clothes that demonstrated the designer’s command of the house’s direction.
Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt. PARIS--Yesterday, prior to the anticipated Dior show, far from the madding crowd of fashion frenzy, Bouchra Jarrar presented her fourth collection with a show at the reception hallways of the sumptuous Théatre de l’Europe. Built in 1779, it's now one of France’s six national theaters. Her collection--17 looks mostly in light grey, deep blue, and black--featured jackets with sharp v-neck lapels, crisp tropical wool pants, a navy wool v-neck blazer with side closure, a strapless dress fitted to the body, and a hand knit zippered vest made of blue and grey interwoven yarns--distilled the essence of couture: Perfectly made clothes without the needs for a single ball gown.
Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt. PARIS--An explosion of green and blue lights--as well as a thunderous roar of music--signaled the start of the Dior fall couture show yesterday afternoon. Taking place inside a small tent at the garden of the Musée Rodin, the show officially opened Paris fall couture season. The streamlined stage décor--a simple sculpture by set designer Michael Howell, rather than a full on mise en scène like a maritime port or a tulip garden--was the first sign of a sharp break from the past. Indeed, the house was staging its first couture show without longtime designer John Galliano. But that was not all that had changed.
Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt. PARIS--“Sportswear is the modern uniform, and we are trying to create sportswear with the feeling of traditional craftsmanship. Valentino has a heritage of couture, but we must make that part of the new world,” said Pier Paolo Piccioli at the quiet lunchtime presentation of the Valentino men’s collection, which took place in the brand's the sumptuous Place Vendôme office. Rather than a fashion show, designers Maria Grazia Chuiri and Piccioli personally narrated how specific pieces were made and spoke of evolving Valentino menswear into a modern, relaxed, luxurious collection. The collection was mainly individual garments of graphic and linear jackets, boxy military outerwear and slim trousers and denim in dark olive green, camel, charcoal and white. Each piece can be layered over one another in any casual or dressed up manner.
Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt. PARIS--When Belgian designer Kris van Assche was appointed creative director of Dior Homme in 2007, one of his first tasks was to build a close relationship with the Dior Homme atelier, established in 2000, to evolve the house’s trademark black suit (or what was then known as the skinny black suit). In his first several outings--a presentation at a mansion on Avenue Foch in July 2007 and his first show on the grounds of the Invalides near Napoleon’s tomb in January 2008--Mr. Van Assche did not veer far from the codes of the Hedi Slimane years, causing a barrage of criticisms. But a strong history can’t be changed overnight. Over the course of a few seasons, he loosened the skinny black suit and added hues of camel, Dior’s light gray and whites. With the spring 2009 collection, Dior Homme’s signature suit was now boxy yet elegant in its proportion, with draping that reflected the atelier’s craftsmanship. Last Saturday, in the giant indoor courts of the Tennis Club on the edge of Paris--where light grey and sheer toile veil divided the vast space into small sections to emphasize the privacy of the presentation--Mr. Van Assche sent out a collection of loose and flowing suits and coats, starting from ultra light in white, light ecru, camel to pale blue then to the obligatory black, a collection that revolved around the notion of "less and more," the theme of the show.
Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt. PARIS--The moving escalators at the vast subterranean glass ceiling basement at the Le Centorial office complex where Raf Simons held his spring show reminded me of his outdoor show in July 1998 at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie where the spring 1999 Kinetic Youth collection was shown. Models marched around a mirrored ball while David Bowie’s Space Oddity played in a production of Wagnerian magnitude. This season was a moment for Mr. Simons to reaffirm his design roots and contributions to modern menswear--principally his pioneering signature pencil cut suits with slim pants, his baggy pull on or pleated pants with square shoulder jacket, and his slim coats.
Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt. PARIS--You cannot say that the designer Thom Browne isn’t having a great deal of fun. Inside the sweltering heat of Maxim’s on Sunday at dusk, Mr. Browne transformed the famed Parisian restaurant/nightclub into a cabaret where the audience sat around tables and waiters served Laurent Perrier champagne. A male couple dressed in identical navy sleeveless coats and shorts pants mounted the stage and sat on the table and as they sipped on champagne. There was a loud voice singing the original “Cabaret” song in multiple languages and a model in a stone sleeveless seersucker jacket and matching shorts with attached long fringes, as well as a bucket hat with fringes and a coat draped over his shoulder. That was only a starter look.
Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt. PARIS-- Dries Van Noten: Mr. Dries Van Noten changed the venue of his show from last season’s sumptuous space at the Musée Bourdelle to an industrial loft, shifting the focus of the collection from a refined and tailored wardrobe to things that are inherently sporty and urban. But he did so without abandoning this fall’s elegant suits and coats, like the Bordeaux wine silk suit worn with an untucked white shirt. The collection contrasted technology with tradition and sportswear with sartorial construction: this meant a mix of waterproof parkas and silk leggings. There was a yellow parka with the thinness of transparent nylon fabric, a navy hooded long coat worn with tropical wool pants and a tan linen jacket with black nylon stitching. A bonding technique was employed on the outside of parkas and trims of jackets, reinforcing the outlines of the rigid cutting patterns. The long navy trench belted at the waist, the tan-charcoal-brown striped coats, and the transparent yellow raincoat are sure to be best sellers come spring. Despite the heavy technical work involved in crafting each outfit, the show was light and airy.
Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt. PARIS--There could not have been a better morning to stage a show outdoors than last Frida, when designer Junya Watanabe presented his spring menswear in the courtyard of a school on the edge of the Luxembourg Gardens. Under the bright sunshine, just yards beyond the pear fruit bearing trees and with George Harrison's “My Sweet Lord” blasting over two mounted loudspeakers, Mr. Watanabe imagined the look of farm life without ever having any actual living experience. There were tan cotton overalls rolled up with a faded chambray shirt, low front cut denim overalls with floral print cotton shirts and caramel wellies, as well as light pink cotton overalls paired with a blue utilities jacket.
Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt. PARIS--Soft and romantic are never words used to describe a Comme des Garçons show, which often requires intensive focus to understand the complicated creative process behind the seemingly difficult to wear clothes. But those words precisely describe the collection designer Rei Kawakubo sent out into a small darkened room near the Gare de l’Est. Saved for the models’ wet sheen, the side kiss curls gracing their temples, and the occasional large multicolor crowns on their heads, the show combined key elements from the staple of CdG’s signatures, like the mixed prints and checkerboards in shiny grey silk nylon as well as red and fushcia fabrics that recalling the patchwork of scarves stitched into a dress from this fall’s “Hybrid fashion” women collection. A long cotton shirt dress in fuchsia or black was shown with jackets and coats as the new underpinning for next summer.
Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt. PARIS--At the exit of the Centre George Pompidou, otherwise known locally as the Beaubourg, there were mixed reactions to Riccardo Tisci’s spring menswear show for Givenchy. “It’s horrible and repetitive,” I heard a man said to his colleague in front of me as we reached an impasse near the photographer’s pit. “Maybe I am wrong but I completely love it,” I said softly as I turned to my companion as we raced to get to the fashion bus onto the next show. Often such wide range reactions to a collection usually means that it was a great show; a bad one won’t generate such wild opinions.
Fashionista contributor Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt. SEOUL, KOREA--"I am in my second year at Seoul Arts College majoring in modeling," says Lee Sang Min, wearing a wool cotton double breasted coat, black and white striped turtleneck sweater, black slim pants and black leather boots. He was waiting in line to get into the CY Choi show in the main hall at Korea Fashion Week with a group of five of his schoolmates. Surprised, as I thought they were just fashion kids rather than college students studying modeling, I asked through my interpreter: “How long is the modeling school program?” “You can do a two year associate or a four year bachelor’s program,” said Back Min Kyu, who stood nearby wearing a black button down shirt, a white double side button pea coat, black pants, and black leather boots. “Have you come to the shows here before?” “Yes, we came the last time,” replied Choi Min Suk wearing a pair of light sunglasses, grey beret, black double breasted side button coat, grey knitted cardigan, black slim jeans, and black boots.
Paris--When the lights dimmed on the second floor of the Garage de Turenne yesterday evening in Paris, a male figure emerged on the video wide screen completely covered in a deep blue shining rubber materials. He began to scratch and peel the rubber off of his skin, first from the lower body then towards his face, a moment that signaled the start of the debut Mugler show under the creative direction of Nicola Formichetti. “It’s going to be genius!” “Fabulous” “So talented” were some of the pre-show chatters I heard around the area where I was seating. “On va voir,” (We shall see) was Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele’s response when I asked her if she thinks this new Mugler can be revived at this moment. Then a model emerged onto the raised platform in front of the screen wearing a black suit with a high elbow rubber gloves. Thus began a collection with the title–Anatomy of Change: Mode Sans Frontières. (Borrowed from the organization Médecins sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders.) What followed was the intersection of an homage to past Mugler style and an effort to update that familiar look with materials like rubber, neoprene, stretch nylon, and reflective pieces. Was it, as the program notes stated, “saying something about how fashion exists now”?
Fashionista contributor Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt. REVIEW: Curated by Valerie Steele, Director of the Museum at FIT, Japan Fashion Now--an exhibition extended through April 2, 2011--surveys the past 30 years of Japanese fashion with a comprehensive view of contemporary fashion in Japanese society. In Japan, fashion has always occupied a central role in delineating gender, social and political roles. The exhibit starts with the Japanese revolution--from the designers who went to Paris in 1981 to showcase their unique creations--and moves on to the years of economic downturn that resulted in today’s youth oriented styles like Gothic Lolitas, Forest Girls, Bosozoku (biker punks), and Mambas. And those are only a few among the many diverse expressions of subcultures, depending on the areas where the kids hang out: Harajuku, Shinjuku, Shibuya or Akihabara. The show demonstrated the incredible creativity of fashion in Japan.
Fashionista contributor Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt. If there were ever a true gathering of fashion’s extended royal family in New York, it happened last night at 845 Madison Avenue at the corner of 70th Street. At precisely 7pm when the guards dressed in black tuxedos locked the front gates, and the light was turned down momentarily, Mr. Tom Ford appeared at the end of the main room of his menswear store, which was decorated with large floral arrangements. About 100 top tier international editors and journalists sat anxiously after a long wait--six years--for his return to womenswear. “Richard (Buckley) knows that for years when I was at Gucci and Yves Saint Lauren, I had a recurrent nightmare and it would last for a week before the show that the clothes would not arrive, that something went wrong, that the atelier burn down and that I had to stand up in front of all of you and talk for 20 minutes. It’s a tough crowd! I am happy to say that tonight I am very proud. We have, I think, wonderful clothes to show you and we also have I think many of the women--the most inspirational women--to model for us. So I'd like to present to you now my Spring 2011 ’Women’ collection,” said Ford just prior to narrating his entire show, describing each of the models and the specific look they were wearing. And the most fabulous women they sure were.
Fashionista contributor Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt. Just a few minutes past midnight last night Alice Cooper took the stage and performed his perennial hit "School’s Out," released in 1972. This was just moments after ZZ Top sang "Foxy Lady." Darling Stilettos did the CBGB Ramones classics "Blitzkrieg Pop," and Donovan Leitch--with Camp Freddy and Perry Farrell--closed the show with the Jane Addiction classic "The Mountain Song." And that’s only a partial line up of the rockers that came out to perform in celebration of the launch of Original Moonshine and the tenth anniversary of John Varvatos’ menswear collection at the former CBGB space on Bowery, now Varvatos' store selling his main, USA and Converse collections. Rock & Roll, whiskey and fashion. Designer fashion requires a narrative--a way of telling a story or relating a lifestyle that the clothes are mere accoutrements. For Mr. Varvatos, it’s his early affection for rock music that has provided the blood that has flowed through his work since launching his first collection for fall 2000. In his office it’s hard to locate a book on fashion, but the piles on his long coffee table include The Illustrated Biography of Bob Dylan, Rock Record 7, CBGB: Decade of Graffiti History and Punk, Made in the U.K – The Music Attitude 1977-1983, Who Shot Rock & Roll, and Ryan Adams and the Cardinals: A View of Other Windows. And off course a tome on The Doors, just to name a few. In reconnecting with his adolescent obsession with rock music Mr. Varvatos gives the brand a soul, or what we call "fashion."
Fashionista contributor Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt. There’s always a birthday to celebrate in Fashion Land. Two years ago it was the big 4-0 for Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren, with an extravaganza on the High Line and a show/dinner on Central Park lawn, respectively. This fall marks the 25th year of Donna Karan and Tommy Hilfiger as well as the 40th year for Roberto Cavalli. And there’s sure to be plenty of events fêting these designers come Fashion Month. Dolce & Gabbana also celebrated a birthday in 2010--the 20th year of its menswear line. I'll always remember that day in January 1990, in the old showroom at Via Santa Cecilia, that Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana presented their first men’s collection, just five years after they had launched their womenswear label. I had started to work for Dolce & Gabbana in New York a year and a half earlier. In those days, I was the only employee. It was my first job in the fashion industry.
Fashionista contributor Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt. It was just another mid-August weekend, when most New Yorkers seek refuge in the Hamptons, Fire Island or upstate along the Hudson, where the sea, sun and cool breeze surely beat the persistent humidity. Yet for the city’s basketball fans, Manhattan was the place to be these past few days. That’s because the Global Community Cup visited New York. A bit like the World Cup of basketball, GCC held games at Madison Square Garden--the USA team played France and China played Puerto Rico at Madison Square Garden. Next the GCC will head to Madrid, where the USA will take on Spain. But what’s this got to do with fashion?