Deeny’s Dozen: The 12 best shows this season
The international runway season ended this week after four weeks of shows in four fashion capitals. This season, we pick the 12 most important collections seen on live catwalk shows in Europe, since foreign editors were unable to attend New York.
The high point of the season, even if it was the last show, was 45 designers paying homage to the late, great Alber Elbaz, in a group show that left many in tears. Rarely has such a demanding and competitive industry as fashion come together so movingly to show their respect to a much-missed colleague, and true design great. Plus, a second collection made by Alber’s studio team for AZ Factory was much applauded – suggesting there can be a bright future for Elbaz’ fledgling house.
Overwhelmingly, as one left the latest Loewe show, staged in a riding arena with the Garde Republicaine in Paris, one heard the most positive acclaim of any collection. From the metal sculpture tetrahedron dresses to the brilliant high heels on inverted roses or fried eggs, this was the most thought-provoking show of the season.
Had to be the event of the season, as Demna Gvasalia upstaged everyone, even the Met Gala, with his Red Carpet show, and Simpsons fashion-victim video. Though the collection was also a vital bellwether - that black is back again.
A purist expression of artistic draping by a master designer aged 77, who is still breaking new ground with ravishing dresses that swaddled his cast intricately. And, after being deluged by color on Instagram for the past half-decade, this almost entirely black collection felt refreshing, and makes everyone who wears it look thinner.
Versace marries Fendi
In an era defined by collabs and link-ups, this was the biggest ever attempted by two Italian brands. The engagement was kept top secret. And the resulting marriage of the double-'F' monogram and Versace’s Grecian friezes in a series of mini dresses and cocktails was pretty sensational.
It felt like a coming-of-age moment for Rok Hwang, the Korean-born but London based LVMH 2018 Special Prize winner. Thanks to his considerable talent, this was the most elegant, and wearable, expression of a key trend in fashion – delicate deconstruction.
In a season of much merchandising mode, it was refreshing to see a true avant-garde collection by a born couturier and courageous rebel. Bio-morphic gowns; Southern-Belle-on-the-rampage dresses and tropical fauna fantasy shapes in a great show by Daniel Del Core, a Germano-Italian who used to dress VIPs for Gucci.
Valli’s youngest, coolest and most complete collection, in a charming post-Covid ode to purist beauty. Reduced shapes, higher hems, crystals excess and great volumes – ladylike yet sexy.
After a decade of competent Chinese luxury from this brand, its new owners Exor, a holding of the Agnelli clan, Italy’s equivalent of a royal family, hired Yang Li as designer. He quietly hit a home run with his hybrid collection, blending the lofty nobility of the Middle Kingdom, the pure colors of Paris and the urbane energy of London.
We never thought we’d put Alberta in our Top 12, but there you go. Sculpted airy dresses and tops in gathered chiffon held together by semi-precious stones, and the best examples of crocheted chic, the material of the season. Plus, influencer heaven in the front row, as the house’s much-loved communications chief Salvo Nicosia worked his magic.
Almost last but very much not least, probably the single most beautiful collection of all from Simone Rocha. Her experimental romanticism, deconstructed jackets and trenches and finishes of oversized pearls, satin strips and embroidered coral was unforgettable. Amid a crazy fashion show schedule, a moment of grace in London’s old medieval church.
Labrum of London
Despite five years of bitter Brexit, London still retains a unique ability to surprise with its cross-cultural pollination and multi-ethnic energy. Like this brilliantly staged show by Foday Dumbuya, the man behind the Olympic uniforms of Sierra Leone. His dashing diaspora meeting of West African immigrant style and British tailoring presented before Balimaya Project, a 13-piece brass band that blends Fela Kuti and funk, had more energy that any show anywhere.
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