Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wonder Boy

The Italian label Pollini is a little under the radar here in the States. It's one of those brands whose ads you see if you read French or Italian Vogue, but don't run across often in American department stores. The man who's been designing Pollini since 2004 is Rifat Ozbek, a Turkish designer whose name is probably familiar to those of us d'un certain age, but probably unknown by most of the set buying skinnies at Barney's Co-Op. Under Ozbek, Pollini's design has been heavily influenced by what Ozbek has always been known for, which is rich fabrics and heavy tribal/ethnic/exotic influences, tossed with a healthy salting of 70's boho-etry.

The PTB at Aeffe, Pollini's parent company, could not have sent a louder signal that they wanted to redirect their line than when they chose Jonathan Saunders to become its new artistic director. Saunders -- a designer I like very, very much, mind you -- is Hot Young Thing. I think he is a Hot Young Thing with actual design chops, unlike some other Hot Young Things I might mention; but nonetheless his is a name much more likely to be found on the backs of Downtownistas, It Girls, Voguettes, and the like than Ozbek, a designer in his 50's who made his bones and his devotées in the 80's. Not that Ozbek is exactly a fuddy-duddy. Check out this suit from his last collection for Pollini, in Fall 08:

Caramba, that's fantastic. Why am I not wearing that RIGHT NOW???? Seriously, this whole collection was stellar -- I urge you to go and look at it. The coats will destroy you.

Jonathan Saunders is young, talented, and a whole different ball of wax. Saunders' thing is color and construction -- his work is much more pared-down and quote-unquote modern than Ozbek's. It's good, but it's simpler, in a way, and more user-friendly for a generation of young women for whom the display of the body is a major factor in whether or not clothes are attractive. It seems to me that hard-core fashionistas in their 20's and early 30's these days divide into two camps: those for whom fashion is about showing off their sexy bodies as much as possible, and those for whom fashion is about costuming to a degree that they would look right at home in any number of video games or science fiction movies. I'm basing a lot of this judgment on what I see on the Series of Tubes -- if I look at the fashion blogs, especially the personal style blogs, that garner the most attention and devoted followings, this is the conclusion I'm led to. (Not to mention the general and oft-bemoaned tartiness-tipping-into-sluttiness I see parading around on weekend right here in Austin, which, as I have said before, is not exactly a hotbed of cutting-edge mode.)

What a lot of younger people seem to have lost is the idea of the body inhabiting clothes and being ornamented by them, which is not exactly the same as showing it off. I would venture to say that the blue pantsuit above beautifully ornaments the woman wearing it, with that obi belt like a lover's arm around her waist, but very, very little of her is actually revealed.

I will say that I think Saunders has a lot of potential to explore this kind of design. His interest in fabric and color and the shape and flow of clothing lead me to beleive that there is much more to his aesthetic than showing off the shapely legs of the models & trustafarians wearing his dresses. And maybe Massimo Ferretti (yes, married to Alberta -- the woman is a major mogul besides being a designer: Aeffe = AF) & Co. saw this in Saunders before they offered him the job at Pollini, but that's honestly more credit than I'm willing to give them, given the way big-money fashion works these days. My guess is, they see that Saunders is young and hot (and talented, which is a bonus though not a requirement) and they want to re-align their company's base with the young and hot things that are buying his clothes. Everyone wants the Balmain lightning in a bottle these days. We'll see how it turns out.

That being said (and said, and said, and said... jeebus, I'm a windbag!), I loved this collection. It almost always comes down to color and shape and line for me and Saunders has a gut-level grasp of those things that speak to me time after time.

Obviously, Saunders' demo is younger than the one Pollini has been courting up until recently, and possibly some of it is too young for me, but I really love the off-hand ease of these clothes.

I would happily wear this dress. It's hard, sometimes, to parse out the clothing from the overall look the designers and stylists have tried to create in a photo. When you stick clothing on a girl this young and skinny and arrange her in coy, cutesy, pigeon-toed poses, the effect is that of extreme youthfulness. But I think that dress is simply lovely, fresh and young but not childish, and I could wear that without feeling mutton-y at all.

Checks & plaids are evidently going to be with us in a big way once Spring rolls around next year.

I'm okay with that -- I like graphic prints.

I'm still -- STILL -- on a mission to find printed tops. I completely love this one. Boy, could I have gotten some wear out of this this summer.

And this is also dead useful and lots of fun.

And let's talk for a moment about those adorable shoes. When Aeffe brought Saunders on to be the creative director of Pollini, they also hired white-hot extreme shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood. This is a typical Kirkwood shoe:

This is not, as they say, your father's Oldsmobile. But these shoes

are adorable.

This caught me off-guard a little. Did Jonathan Saunders watch The Fashion Show?


Whatever his inspiration, I love this. I'll bet that's a perfect little flurry of motion when you walk in it, which I always love.

Speaking of perfect...

I could do so much with that little shift -- wear it by itself or as a layer over a top & slacks or another skirt, even open as a vest. What a great piece. I think it's leather, but given that I can't find any detail shots of this collection I can't be sure.

Good, streamlined, great lines on those slacks but what I'm really looking at, again, is THOSE SHOES!!! The all-black version are certainly a little more practical than the plaid ones.

I think this is my favorite look from the show.

I don't know what it is, but I've really been big into the slouchy the last six months or so, and I really love the way this hangs. Not to mention, of course, the play of the colors and fabrics. I'm not big into patchwork, I never have been, but this is a version of it I like. (Even with the asymmetric hem, something I usually disdain.)

Saunders hasn't given up designing his own label now that he's with Pollini, and I'll try to get a review of that up in the next couple of days. I'm quite behind the times, I know, but life goes on beyond my laptop screen and lately I just seem to be constantly in headless chicken mode. Plus, frankly, I can only dredge up so many Deep Thoughts About Fashion per week before I start to smell something burning -- the ol' cogitator just overheats.


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Belle de Ville said...

I will leave you the checks and I'll take the blue suit with the fur scarf. I'd so wear that.

Toby Wollin said...

Belle - I'm with you on Ozbek. Actually, I looked at the entire collection and loved every single piece. Caravans, romance, the entire collection was just fantastic and appealed to my innate sense of decorating myself. The little girl stuff..bah.



CHICMUSE said...



Acaislim said...
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Carissa said...

omg. I love all the collection. I can't even choose which one I like the most!

issye margaretha kamal said...

i love your blog :) a very nice blog .
nice to know you .

Fee said...

The second dress and them shoes are amazing.
Both on there own or together.
I dont normally match my shoes with my outfit... but I love the shoes so much.
Well I think it could be the fabric.. its perfect.

Fee x

janet said...

please check out the music video showcasing the s/s 2010 collection for my line graey:

Make Do Style said...

Fantastic information well researched and constructed. I'm liking the look. I do feel sorry for Ozbek as his grown up glamour looks divine but as in any industry money talks.

C said...

just show me shoes and i'll be happy. loved all of them!!
New items this week.