2010 October 6

Runway Reviews: Alexander McQueen, Kenzo, Moncler Gamme Rouge

Alexander McQueen, Spring 2011 Alexander McQueen, Spring 2011
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Sarah Burton unwittingly fell into the spotlight last season after the untimely death of Alexander McQueen, but this season she proved that she can thrive there. While shying away from the caliber of grand, theatrical spectacles her predecessor was known for, Burton still created a powerful atmosphere for her nature-inspired collection, which took the best of classic McQueen (sharp, Victorian-inspired tailoring, dramatic silhouettes, feathers) and softened it a bit. In shades of white, black wheat, and soft gold, the stunning craftsmanship shone, particularly in a dress and suit of pieced-together black leather leaves, a high-necked sculpted dress created from what looked like Monarch butterflies, and the show-stopping feathered gowns of the finale.

“I don’t think the settings get any better that this,” gushed Marisa Berenson as she entered the 40th anniversary Kenzo show at Cirque d’Hiver. “I think we’ll see something special tonight.” And we sure did. Designer Antonio Marras essentially divided the show in two parts: his Sardinian official Spring collection, and then a breathtaking 40-look archival tribute to the brand. The new collection played upon plenty of neutral notes while celebrating and deconstructing Japanese dress into loose and draped linen and silk numbers, beautifully paired with alien-like candy-colored wedges. But it was the second half of the show that elicited as many impressed gasps as anything seen during this fashion season. Powdered, red-lipped girls took the moving stage in Kenzo armor that seemed to pay tribute to everything from Russian glory to Victorian opulence to African wilderness. It was perhaps the best-styled fifteen minutes of the entire Paris Fashion Week. “I think I just found my dream Halloween costume,” noted Bryan Boy from the front row.

Moncler presentations are usually held at consulates, opera dungeons, and quietly curated performance art spaces. But birthday boy Alex de Betak had a different idea in mind for this season's twelve-minute live action presentation. He enlisted his friend Blanca Li, one of France's most noted choreographers, to create a mixed media performance and show to really play off Giambattista Valli’s spring visions---which this season included plenty of bold dresses with fearless zippers, color-blocked skirts, and black light-friendly shoes, all paired up with insane looking headdresses and playful goggles. As young dancers ran around models like Karolina Kurkova and Chanel Iman, strobe lights pulsated, a Willy Wonka soundtrack played in the background, and Valli’s pieces shined in the most wonderfully surreal kind of way.