Friday, February 20, 2009

What Recession?

I experienced a strangely judgmental moment looking at Carolina Herrera's Fall 2009 collection. Of course, I
always make judgments about the clothes I see, but this was less about that than it was some sort of sniffy, PC, reverse-snobbery thing about the overall feeling of the show. It boiled down to, "Well, I guess she & her friends are doing okay!" The general impression I was left with after looking at these clothes was that apparently the recession, if it's made a dent on Herrera's consciousness, has not been much permitted to influence what she sent down the runway. And like I said, it made me weirdly judge-y. Of course, Carolina Herrera is perfectly welcome to design whatever she damn well pleases, and we're all free to like it or not, and buy it or not. But there was something about the in-your-face luxe-ness of this entire collection that did hit a bit of a wrong note for me. See? Weirdly judge-y.

This right here was probably the closest thing to daywear that Herrera sent down the runway. Don't get me wrong, that is knock-me-down-and-call-me-stupid gorgeous, but these are not the clothing choices of someone making allowances for the dire economic times we're living in.
And why should she? And why should I even care? I mean, it's not like the other designers I've shown you so far sent urchins dressed as though they'd just escaped from Fagin down the runway. (Okay, well, many of them are pretty urchin-y, in the sense that they look like they haven't eaten or slept for weeks, but that's neither here not there.) I dunno why it struck me so. But we have to admit -- this?

Is a pretty ostentatiously luxurious little number.

Not to mention stunning. Good googly-moogly. I have to show you more of that, because it's just so damned beautiful.

These clothes are giving me push-pull like a bad boyfriend: I love 'em, but they trouble me. Much as I'm drawn to them, I know they can't be good for me. Maybe it's because, as I mentioned recently, my usual soundtrack as I go about my day is news programs where lately the talk is inching toward apocalyptic. Perhaps that's seeping into my consciousness to the extent I can't even look at pretty clothes without thinking,

"Whoever wears that? Not worried about making her mortgage payment." Because the nearly-broke don't usually get to indulge in baby's-butt suede pants and goddess-y charmeuse blouses.

But ya know what? I'm just going to let the pretty pull me under, because the show really was gorgeous. It was a little sleeker than Herrera's usual, the detailing was all in the fabrics and the chewably delicious colors

There was this wonderful bronze, that great platinum that was gleamy without being shiny, a perfect, rich teal, and an amethyst that made my eyes water (in a good way). Not to mention these little numbers:

Okay, all together now: one, two, three, ::swoon::.

Love the sort of Edwardian-lady-novelist-on-the-heath thing going on here, with the floaty skirt & the swaddly long cardi.

Even odds this dress shows up in LA Sunday night, perhaps on Renée Zellweger:

Of course, if Zellweger wears it, it will be much, much tighter than this. More's the pity. Look at the swing of that skirt. If you're encased in that like a bratwurst, in Ms. Z's usual fashion, I don't see how you can work up enough of a head of steam to move enough to create that fabulous swish. Tiny steps are called for.

Mmmmmm, that fabric. That's a modern brocade -- I dearly love tone on tone patterns and this is beyond gorgeous.

I didn't love all of it:

Now, I loved the big shoulders on some of the Jonathan Saunders stuff I showed you the other day, but this is not working for me. Shoulders are one thing, but the emphasis here seems to be on... the elbows? Sorry, I'm not going for it. Plus the overall patchwork vibe doesn't do it for me. It's too random, it detracts from the silhouette rather than serving it. I like the idea of the wrappy, shruggy thing, but not the execution of it. That color, though, I do like that.

I still haven't been able to work out why, despite the clothes being very lovely, the whole collection gave me a bit of fashion indigestion. I don't necessarily think that clothing design
has to be a slave to the zeitgeist, I like to think I have lots of room for iconoclasm in my outlook on design. But. Clothes are what you wear to go out into the world -- their very existence is necessitated by contact with the outside (if we all just stayed at home, we could be naked all the time) and do they affect and are affected by what's going on out there. It's one of the things that makes fashion so endlessly fascinating for me, the sociology & semiotics of it. There is a palpable response to the spiky economic realities we're living through in much of what's gone down the runway in New York, and there were a lot of different ways that response manifested. I think on the whole I found a certain arrogance in these clothes that was distasteful to me. It wasn't "we're all going to hell in a handbag, we might as well have fun," it wasn't "times are grim and so we need to lighten things up a bit," it wasn't "this is the moment to invest in things that will take you through the hard times and back into easy ones." It was more like, "I'm fine, so I'm going to buy some $1200 suede pants." Like I said, I really have no right to be offended by that; but honestly, somehow, just a little, I was.

More runway is coming! Stay tuned!


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Claudia said...

What a great post, Aim. These clothes ARE drop-dead gorgeous, but they're just not hitting the right note. Good call!

Stephanie H. said...

Love that purple dress. Look at it this way. These clothes are going to cost the same as most of the austere clothing going down the runways in response to the economy. One may look more appropriate in these times than the other, but it's not like they are reducing their prices in response to the crisis. You're supposed to pay just as much for plain. It helps me appreciate the pretty more b/c in bad times, pretty is good and almost necessary.

Deja Pseu said...

Lordy, I love that green and bronze number. Yum.

dana said...

Interesting analysis. Herrera was a high fashion customer before she became a designer, and I think it shows. The pieces that befuddled me a little were the gray and black applique numbers, especially the pants suit. I was trying to figure out what you'd wear that to, then decided it was evening only, and then realized I haven't seen much in the way of evening wear pants, narrow pants, for ages.

Belle de Ville said...

Great post. You have a great eye for detail. Recession clothes these are not.

Joann said...

Well, I agree with the indigestion, but , what if not anything , are these clothes but unattainable. I think it's okay to dream, and dream I did, of those gorgeous shoes. PS, thanks for the Kohl's info about Vera Wang. iI went today and got a very cute dress(simply Vera) that looks terrif on me. thanks.

Denise said...

Style Spy,

I can't wait for your red carpet rundown after Sunday night!