September 2, 2019

A Return to Runway

I'm ashamed to say it's been over two years since I've blogged about runway. Can you believe I used to have a series called Fashion Week Marathon, where I blogged daily about the latest collections of the season? Sure, the time I had dedicated to doing my homework took a hit, but I was secretly proud of my ability to take one look at a clothing item and make an educated guess -- if not actually identify -- which brand and season it came from. I remember back in school, whenever we had free time in the computer lab, I would pull up YouTube and start catching up on runway shows. I owe so much of what I know today to the hours upon hours spent watching shows and reading reviews.

Nowadays, between doing adult things (whatever adult things it is adults are supposed to do), trying to do more and be more in life (deep, I know), and watching an unhealthy amount of BTS (Jimin is my bias), runway has regretfully done a catwalk into the back burner. However, I still try to keep up with the fashion world in stolen moments, and am thankful I have not yet lost my instinct for noteworthy collections. I know when a collection really speaks to me through gut feeling: I get goosebumps, my heart rate elevates, and I get lost in rapturous reverie. So to share some of my euphoric bliss with you, here are the collections that have me smiling as of late:

Ralph Lauren Spring/Summer 2019 RTW

I debated whether I should save the best for last or hit you upfront with the most splendid of shows. Ultimately, I decided Ralph Lauren's newest collection was far too refreshing to risk leaving until the end. With a palette of only three colours -- black, white and gold -- Lauren had a tightly edited and succinct message: elegance never goes out of style. Cuts were at times roomy yet always refined. Wide-legged trousers were nipped tightly by pristine gold belts, and swishy knee-length skirts were finished off with precise t-strap heels. As much as I appreciate the sardonic streetwear heralded by younger designers, it was a breath of fresh air to once again see clothing made for the grown up, no-nonsense woman. But demure she is not. There were sharp shoulders, sophisticated blazers and even a billowing gold cape to round out the show, reminding us that just because a woman dresses simply does not mean she is without strength.

Fendi Fall/Winter 2019 RTW

Even before the inimitable Karl Lagerfeld passed away, I had developed a recent appreciation for Fendi. Fendi has always been one of those staple brands in fashion, but for many years after the release of its peekaboo handbag, I wondered if it really had anything new to say -- particularly as a brand known for fur in a society that is increasingly against it. My question was answered when I saw the debut of its new logo: a powerfully simple yet humorous emblem that didn't replace the quintessential double-F, but rather complemented it to attract a younger audience. Fendi also played so well into street culture's obsession with logomania that I saw it climbing its way back to relevancy. And yet despite having fun with fashion's fleeting fancies, Fendi has remained grounded in its foundation of ladylike clothing. The transparent vinyl raincoats with tan leather trimmings from Spring/Summer 2019 RTW blew me away, and I was rendered weak in the knees by the romanticism of fluttering scarves tied back between the belt loops of dresses and coats in this Fall/Winter collection. For a brand that has embraced the irony of obnoxious monogram print, I am impressed with how it still manages to speak with sophistication.

Chanel Fall/Winter 2018 RTW

Naturally, I can't talk about Fendi without bringing up Chanel. Lagerfeld was always immensely consistent with his visual messaging for Chanel, but his Fall/Winter 2018 RTW collection made me take notice. The warm autumnal vibes of sheer black nylons (oh, those legs!) worn under knit dresses and knee high boots brought back memories of how I used to dress in high school when the temperatures dropped. It may be a slightly dated, girlish look, but it still feels so comfortingly familiar. I guess I am finally getting old enough to experience nostalgia for styles of the past. This collection was akin to being wrapped up in a cozy blanket -- a sentiment made all the more poignant knowing this was among Lagerfeld's final few collections for the brand.

Christopher Kane Spring/Summer 2019 RTW

Of many runway moments seared into my memory is an especially vivid image of Ralph Lauren's Spring/Summer 2015 RTW waterfall necklaces, which were so excessive they practically became breastplates of glimmering jewels. When I saw Christopher Kane's interpretation of those necklaces in gems the size of rocks strung vertically across the chest or suspended in the middle like Iron Man, I immediately felt a frisson of connection. The tongue-in-cheek glamour granted a subversive power to the high-octane dressing. I find Kane to be masterful at pinpointing singular details that will steal the show. For example, I still salivate over the embellished cold shoulder cutout from Spring/Summer 2014 RTW, or the mildly kinky transparent PVC patches laced with crystals from Fall/Winter 2019 RTW -- simple creative manipulations that transform the existing into the exceptional.

Balmain Spring 2019 Couture

Ladies and gentlemen, Balmain is back in couture -- and what a ball it was! Literally. Massive orbs adorned wrists as cuff bracelets, were held in hand like clutch bags, and even worn as futuristic, globular skirts. Why, you ask? I have not the slightest clue, but it doesn't quite matter because the theme is magnificently memorable. Olivier Rousteing's couture debut for Balmain was far from inconspicuous and very deliberate. In a collection that would have otherwise emulated the typical image of couture as a frothy, feminine fantasy, Rousteing infused modern bite with rigid architectural shapes, spray-painted stencil patterns, and encrusted acid-wash denim. The interplay of luxurious textiles in pastel shades with peculiar and exaggerated forms resulted in a collection that was as beautiful as it was bewildering -- a reminder that even pearls come nestled in the gnarly flesh of an oyster. Balmain is off to a good start!

Iris van Herpen Fall 2018 Couture

Truthfully, I could feature any one of Iris van Herpen's latest collections, but it was Fall 2018 Couture when I first took notice of her. What a shame I didn't start following her sooner! Van Herpen is one of those inventive designers who continually challenges the notion of what fashion can be. She is a visionary exploring what I like to call the galactic anatomy of movement. Her work is technically brilliant (read: hand-casted transparent polyurethane hand-painted through injection molding, or two-tone dyed organza heat-bonded to laser-cut Mylar and cotton), and oftentimes takes shape in rippling gills of diaphanous fabric, shifting pleats that refract the light around it, and structured yet overwhelmingly delicate vertebrae. I am constantly floored by the gentle, probing beauty she births from her very scientific means. Watching Van Herpen is like a deeply intellectual and spiritual encounter where one witnesses an otherworldly intersection of the biological, the technological and the celestial.

Image Source: