Tuesday, January 15, 2008

All A-Flutter

I opened up the New York Times this Sunday and saw an ad for Bergdorf's featuring this dress:



I wish I could find an online version of the actual advert to show you -- it's a full-page black and white beauty of a photo, and evidently the wispy little model wearing the dress has a fan at her feet, causing those lovely silk squares to curl and roll and look as though she is lifting off the ground to take flight. Just gorgeous.

Sadly, the dress isn't nearly as compelling from the back:


Miss Thing here has a nice backside & all, but I think the dress would be a lot more gutsy and interesting if the floaty bits went all the way around. I always find it such a terrible shame when people sacrifice interesting design for the safety of "sexy." (The default position of all of Hollywood is apparently this very thing, leading us to red carpet after red carpet filled with slinky skintight dresses that look more & more like glorified scuba suits every year. I was almost grateful that the Golden Globes were canceled this weekend -- we were spared yet another parade of Couture Boredom. "Sexy" is a color every woman should have in her paintbox, but it can't be the only color you use or it will become monotonous. And believe it or not, there are other iterations of sexy besides spray-painted-on-and-plunging-to-the-navel. I'm talking to you, Beyoncé. )

But back to the dress... I really love this floaty, shredded, appliquéd effect. I positively frothed at the mouth a few seasons ago when this gorgeous creature floated down the YSL runway:


See, I don't care too much about sexy most of the time. I care about fabulous. And nothing says fabulous like a garment that everyone will look at, most people won't understand or even like, and almost no one else would wear. Those are always the things I fall in love with.

Like this, all a-flutter with floral appliqués, also from YSL:


Of course, I would probably wear just about anything this fella told me to:


Such a smoothie, that Stefano Pilati. Meow.

More fabulousness, from the great unsung maestro of American Couture, Ralph Rucci:



Are they over the top? Yeah, you betcha, but who cares? They are sublime.

(Lest you think Rucci only creates confections like these, I present you with this gorgeous example of his surgical-precision tailoring


and urge you to look at more of his clothes. They're works of art when you see them up close -- the complicated seaming that somehow creates the simplest and most flattering line, and the beyond-luxe fabrics. There was a black, double-faced wool Rucci jacket at the Neiman Marcus outlet a couple of years ago that I did not buy and I assure you, I still regret it.)

Here was a completely different take on the floaty bits, from Raf Simon at Jil Sander. This whole collection is pretty amazing, and makes a very strong argument for Simon being one of the more important designers working currently. Simon thinks different, to borrow the ungrammatical tagline from those old Apple Computer ads.



(Although these shoes trouble me greatly. They look entirely too difficult to walk in. I would roll off the sides of those a hundred times before I even made it into my car.)

What I thought about when I looked at this collection was how everything would feel as I was wearing it, floating & drifting & lifting as I moved. I love clothes with movement; I think most women do. Who of us can resist the swish and rustle of a twirly skirt, the jittery waterfall of fringe, or the romance of a long, flowing cape?



These clothes are so very modern and yet so intensely romantic. What the Blue Fairy would wear if she lived in New York City. A gorgeous collection, you should look at the whole thing.

One more take on this:


from Bottega Veneta. What you get when you combine fairy princess with shimmy dress. It's probably a little teddy bear for most folks and I'm not sure I like it enough to wear it (The sheer bulk of the thing is problematic. I can't decide if you need to be rail-thin and risk being overwhelmed, or of more substantial build and risk being overwhelming), but I do find something about it very appealing. Maybe I just want it to walk around next to me so that I can pet it for reassurance during stressful social situations. ("Hi, I'm Amy, and this is my Security Couture.") I adore Tomas Meier's design sense, I just wish he weren't so phobic about color. Endless variations of parchment and cement come out of that house -- when Meier is feeling frisky with color, he'll throw in blush and slate (stand back!). Not much hope of big purple flowers from Bottega.

So how does this translate into real life clothes? Well, it doesn't too much yet. I think that once all the summer clothes make their way into the stores we're going to see more things influenced by these looks, but as of now, the pickings feel pretty slim. Still lots & lots of sleek sequined things out there, which is a fun look but beginning to get a little tired if you ask me. I'm ready for floaty summer frocks.

This was the closest thing I found after cruising the interwebs this weekend. It's Matthew Williamson and it's really quite sweet


but that might be its problem. I like the idea of this dress, but I think it might be a rather too literal interpretation of Little Blossom for anyone who doesn't get asked for her ID when she orders a cocktail. The colors, though, as usual with Mr. Williamson, are gorgeous. I think this would be a beautiful bridesmaid dress for a garden wedding, don't you?

As I stated to my friends while we wandered around the (cue echo chamber sound effect) Bridal Extravaganza this weekend, I like feathers.


No, not me. One of my dearest friends got engaged over the holidays and we took advantage of the Bridal Expo. And the feathers comment was prompted by some very wonderful floral arrangements we were seeing, not bridal gowns. (And Oh. My. God. If you think the world of Red Carpet Couture is a yawn, try clicking through some wedding gown sites. Heaven deliver us from the tyranny of the duchess satin strapless ball gown. My eyes! My EYES!!!!!)

But I digress. The immediately above number is from BCBGMaxAzria, go-to guy for party dresses all across this land of ours. (And if you don't believe me, step into a college-town BCBG store right around spring formal season.) (Actually, don't. Just take my word for it.) If the white Rucci number appealed to you but seemed a biggish pill to swallow, this is a more palatable version.

Mostly the way I found the Fluttery Aesthetic expressed was by tiers of ruffles:


Basic black makes this slightly less risky. And more appropriate for a grown-up lady.


Frilly and fun, but be warned. You should only wear this color if you yourself are at least a couple of shades darker than the fabric, or you risk looking like a crescent roll in heels. And not in a good way.

I have mixed feelings about this one...


I like the idea of it, but it just doesn't quite get me where I need to go. It's a boring shape and a boring color and they just don't seem to have made a full commitment to the appliqué idea.


Oh, hooray! An actual color!!! This is a very simple dress with a nice little detail at the top, but my favorite thing about it is that you could actually discern its hue in low light. (Can you tell that I am seriously bored with all the nudes and grays and blacks?)

And here's a really fun little number, unfortunately available only in itty-bitty sizes.


(And what is with those shoes??? Those are just WRONG.)

I actually have a skirt that's made very similarly to this -- it's strips of black tulle adorned with shiny black paillettes. I know that sounds weird and wildly impractical, but you would not believe how useful that skirt has been over the few years I've had it. It's such a fun little statement-y piece that all I have to do is throw on a nice white blouse (I have a couple of those) or a cashmere sweater (ditto) and some pretty shoes (goes without saying), and I'm ready to go off & be festive. And the tulle is attached to a nice stretchy fabric that's tremendously comfy.

On a completely different note, the men's collections are up & running in Milan. I'm going to try to hit you with some highlights (and low points, because that's even more fun) over the next few days. And men's collections, of course, mean that the women's shows are just around the corner, so I'll be clearing my calendar to stay at home and click through the approximately nine squillion and six fashion shows that will happen in February. Stay tuned!

Photos: BergdorfGoodman.com, Style.com, yoox.com, nordstrom.com, shopbop.com

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Caroline said...

Thanks for the great post, Aim! Sigh.... a bit of beauty that greatly improved my humdrum day :)

Princess Poochie said...

You have far more patience than I for sifting through all the shows. And a great eye!


Anonymous said...

i am worried that i thought this, because i adored that yellow dress IN THE PHOTO, and agreed that they should have made more of a ruffly commitment because the back looks empty... but if they had done so, and the dress was on someone in real life with the ruffles curling upwards with the breeze... wouldn't they look like Big Bird? i am torn...