groupielove, the end


In his time away in New York, Williamson learned something about putting on a show. Honed by exposure to that city’s demand for brevity in design, his show in London was a much more focused, slim-contoured collection consisting of leather-inserted polished-linen sheath dresses, super-skinny pants, and paper-bag-waisted shorts.

Groupielove # 15


A piece of paper displaying eco-slogans greeted guests on their seats at Vivienne Westwood. The same messages (“Act fast, slow down, stop climate change”) appeared on the clothes, sometimes pinned to the models’ chests as if they were competitors in a running race.

This is nothing new for a Westwood show; Dame Viv has been spreading her anti-consumerism and pro-green beliefs via the runway for years. The collection trod mostly familiar ground as well. There were the clingy intarsia knits, the wrapped and draped dresses with odd volumes, the bustiers with the deflated bra cups.

The unfinished edges and hems on almost everything reminded you that Westwood did them, if not first, then decades before this season’s manifestations.

groupielove #14


After Fall’s long, almost clerical lengths and the fifties ball skirts of the season before, he went short and leggy for Spring. The recurring silhouette was a drop-waist frothy minidress reminiscent of the twenties. Smothered in dense fringe or feathers (both real and represented in trompe l’oeil prints) or swirls of jeweled embroideries, these jazzy numbers were interspersed with the egg-shaped dresses and cocoon coats that have become a signature of Valli’s nearly five-year-old collection. This season, those came in graphic color-blocking or overscale prints and embroideries inspired by antique carpets. Bold leopard-stamped ponyskin was also in the mix; a short-sleeved jacket and shorts suit in the stuff seemed to attract particularly strong interest from his socialite fan club.

Groupielove # 13

January 8, 2010 by  
Filed under Backstage, Featured Items, models, Paris, womenswear


The Valentino-duo is now designing with a new Valentino generation in mind—one that likes its party dresses short and isn’t afraid of sheer. There wasn’t a (Valentino)red dress in sight. Instead, Piccioli and Chiuri romanced the soft tones of nude, rose, lavender, gold, and gray that have become the big color story of the season. Their methods included swirling organza around the body and tying it off with a flamboyant bow, embroidering tulle T-shirt dresses in antique laces and geometric metal paillettes, and printing chiffon with black orchids. A couple of fitted leather jackets and minis embellished with laser-cut rosettes provided a bit of edge. Glass slippers didn’t figure in this story, but the London-based milliner Philip Treacy did whip up some fanciful footwear with lace wings arcing upward from the heels.

In sum: This was a well-timed step forward for the new Valentino duo, one that put the brand at the center of some of Spring’s key trends and started to give it a new relevance.

Groupielove # 12


Narciso Rodriguez embraced his softer side for spring summer 2010. And it made for a stronger collection. The vibe was still plenty sexy, like the killer sheath color-blocked from jute linen canvas and black silk jacquard.  A pair of shifts, one in white, the other pink, came with graphic cutouts on the upper back, while another dress was essentially a mesh tank with strategically placed ovals of printed fuchsia silk. All three were revealing without being vulgar, a balance other designers have had some difficulty achieving this season.

But Rodriguez also loosened up the silhouette dramatically, letting the air in, so to speak, on everything from a white silk, linen, and organza bubble dress to a silk mud-cloth coat. The show ended with a trio of short-in-front, long-in-back tent dresses that took this concept to the extreme. Chic, modern propositions for a black-tie evening, they billowed dramatically behind the models in the runway breeze.

Groupielove # 11

January 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Backstage, Featured Items, Milan, models, womenswear


Making good on the promise of his sexy debut, Peter Dundas turned out a sizzling collection for Spring/Summer at Emilio Pucci. It is, of course, the season the house was made for, having been established on jet-set Capri in the 1960’s, but it also doesn’t hurt that Dundas is an avid scuba diver. The underwater universe produced some aqueous prints that also formed the basis of allover-sequined dresses. Neoprene diving suits informed a few long-sleeve minidresses with curve-enhancing mesh insets.

Some of the hottest swimwear of the season strutted down the narrow runway. One or two in snakeskin aren’t advisable for actually getting wet.  The season’s all-important jacket? He cuts a mean one: cropped, fitted, with lean arms and a flippy hem.

Groupielove #10

January 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Backstage, Featured Items, models, Paris


The foundation stone of Lagerfelds ss2010-collection was shorts. “Not Bermudas or hot pants,” the designer said backstage, but a contemporary variation that emphasized rounded hips. They looked almost like tap shorts, especially when they showed in white satin.
Lagerfeld pushed his idea with all-in-one playsuits—sometimes hanging off dungaree straps, sometimes with no straps at all—which dropped into deep-pleated shorts (it was particularly striking in red leather). This bizarre notion was so insistent throughout the presentation that it took on a persuasive life of its own. And, in its peculiar way, it fit with jackets whose hems were folded up to shoulders that buttoned down.

Groupielove #9

December 28, 2009 by  
Filed under Backstage, Featured Items, models, New York, womenswear


Practicing his signature brand of arty minimalism, Francisco Costa replaced the sharp angles and dark colors of his Fall collection with soft, organic shapes and light-reflecting neutrals. It made for a Spring collection more sensuous than  sexy—and more youthful in feeling than his recent efforts. He opened with a white one-sleeve bubble dress that, like the needle-punched nylon coat that came down the runway a few looks later, caught air behind the model as she walked. When he wasn’t experimenting with volume, Costa was creating interesting textures: smocking and puckering cotton voile for an A-line shift, or hand-pleating and pintucking an organdy dress. Playing natural off techno, and sheer against opaque, the designer sent out mohair jacquard tank dresses that shaded from black to brown to gray and revealed subtle swaths of skin. The only departure from the show’s earthy palette was a group of crinkled silk-cotton tank dresses and asymmetrical shifts in shades of pale aqua, citron, coral, and jade.

Groupielove # 8

December 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Backstage, Featured Items, Milan, models, womenswear


Vivid pastels, geometric prints, baroque curlicues, short-short skirts, and slinky, sexy chain mail: Where else could this be but Versace? For Spring, Donatella Versace was telling everyone who went backstage that she’d been inspired by Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (which comes out next March). “I loved the idea of that fantasyland,” she said. Really, though, you didn’t need to know that to appreciate the fact that this was Versace redux—the Gianni heyday of the early nineties retooled in a gloriously confident way.

Groupielove # 7


Turning out refined day looks and eveningwear since 1981, the house of Herrera specializes in classic shapes (lean trousers, pencil skirts, A-line ball dresses, and nipped-waist jackets) stitched up in soigné silk faille and jacquard, luxurious taffeta and mink. In recent seasons, Oscar regulars like Renée Zellweger have splashed this most Park Avenue of labels with a starry dash of Hollywood Boulevard.

Carolina Herrera made a name for herself by dressing well before she began designing well. (And she is still recognized for her chic uniform of crisp white shirts and tailored black trousers.) She was born in 1939 to a family of Venezuelan aristocrats and, with her second husband, Reinaldo Herrera, partied with a coterie of 1970’s jet-setters that included Mick Jagger and Andy Warhol. Herrera landed on the International Best-Dressed List time and again during those years, and was named to its Hall of Fame in 1980. The same yearHerrera designed her first line of ready-to-wear as a “test.” She aced it.

Herrera was named the CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year in 2004, and in 2008 the organization gave her the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award.

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