January 17, 2014 by Courtney Denton
Designers drew from a distinctively cultural and global aesthetic across the board when it came to womenswear for the upcoming season. In Paris, Raf Simons referred to his most recent collection as the “idea of twisting, turning, and pushing of Dior.” Simons employed that concept rather literally and opened the show with a classic Dior suit jacket that twisted around the body, a theme that was carried throughout. Ladylike pleats in understated graphic floral prints were cut with asymmetrical panels of black. Models emerged from a jungle of tropical fauna that was mimicked by the clusters of beads draped around their necks.
Karl Lagerfeld took it upon himself to create a collection of art in order to present, well, his collection of art. The walls at Chanel bore 75 artworks dreamt up by Lagerfeld, in case the reference made by his painterly pieces on the runway was not obvious enough. Classic Chanel suits, when not woven in the house’s trademark colorful tweeds, were burnished with borders of painted watercolor or smudged charcoal. Models toted artists’ portfolios and bags with quilting painted on in a trompe l’oeil fashion. Along with Chanel, Celine, Versace, Kenzo and Jil Sander all paraded prints reminiscent of painted brush strokes.
Miuccia Prada, never one to shy away from a timely cultural reference, executed a presentation injected with elements of feminism and artistry. The venue at Prada was wrapped in giant murals of women’s faces, commissioned from street artists by Miuccia herself. The woman who wears these clothes surely intends to make herself seen and heard in primary-colored and jeweled bralettes. Dresses and even a series of vibrant fur coats bore graphic portraits, much like the murals that hung behind the runway. According to Tim Blanks of Style.com, Prada said, “I want to inspire women to struggle.” She may be looking to inspire a debate. It certainly will not concern the merits of this collection.
Prada once again honed in on the most dominant motifs of the menswear spring season: moody florals and full-cut suits. Her presentation space in Milan, dubbed “Menacing Paradise,” saw layers of tropical prints paired with dark, somber hues. According to Style.com Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks, Prada was asking her audience to address “the cliche of the exotic — and the cliche of summer.” References to a melancholic post-war Hawaii could be seen in the navy pinstriped pants and double-breasted suits worn over collared shirts printed with banana leaves and sunset scenes. Her man was certainly embarking on a trip of sorts, with his suitcase in hand, but perhaps not a joyous one.
Mid-century America, another unifying theme in the menswear collections, was the driving inspiration behind Bottega Veneta’s spring presentation. The immaculately modern grey flannel suit that opened the show took on several iterations, some with white stitching, others with three-button closures. When he was not in a suit, Tomas Maier saw his man in cardigans straight out of the fifties, or perhaps even a checked sweater vest over a spread collar shirt.
Gucci captured the floral print trend and interpreted it with a modern, athletic twist. Frida Giannini opened her show with a dusty floral t-shirt, matching pants and backpack, a look which set the tone for the entirety of the collection to follow. Structured pants morphed into a knit hybrid of riding pants, perhaps an homage to Gucci’s equestrian heritage. Despite being so different in purpose, one could be convinced that same man wearing a hooded anorak paired with sporty backpack would don a dark floral suit if the occasion called for it.