Vibrant colours, desert hues signal optimism

Last Updated 09 July 2010, 11:58 IST

By next year, we will all have forgotten The Great Recession and emerged stronger and brighter, with a spring in our step. Or at least, that’s what fashion’s finest are predicting for the Spring/ Summer 2011.

Given declining sales and falling revenues, designers are naturally fed up of the crisis, and some of the biggest names have reacted by putting out cheeky, witty looks that put the accent firmly on having a good time.

“We’re sick of the crisis. We want to have some fun!” the top Belgian designer Kris Van Assche, who is artistic director of Dior Homme, told reporters during the event.

At John Galliano’s show, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton were strong inspi-rations, with men in black wigs and fake moustaches walking down the runway in over-sized clown shoes.

Paper-bag pants, bowler hats and pale face makeup clearly referenced Chaplin at this theatrical showman’s present-ation. “I want my clothes to help people dream, to empower,” Galliano told The New York Times.

And that they did. Microfibre jackets, pinstripe shorts and drop-crotch pants were all fitted to the body in an attempt to redefine the proportions of menswear. Buster Keaton was also a strong reference, complete with three-piece suit, porkpie hat and trademark gloomy expression. Brief swim trunks and plenty of leather closed out the collection.

Colour was a strong trend for next season: at Canali, the palette ranged from pale green to blue and yellow, while at Italian master cutters Brioni, artist David Hockney’s swimming pool images served as the inspiration for rich blues and brightly coloured pants.

It was a rustic colour palette at Bottega Veneta with a collection in shades of green, red and navy blue, while at D&G, their jade-blue preppy suits were irresistible, making one want to rush backstage and steal everything one could!

Blue was also the theme at Pringle of Scotland, while Giorgio Armani used what he called “a ray of summer light” to brighten up his signature neutral suits. So it was a pocket handkerchief here in asparagus green, and a yellow belt there.

And Roberto Cavalli pushed the boat out completely, sending out pants spattered in bright pinks, while an overall emphasis on sunny tones inspired by the desert brightened up his show.

But the desert showed up in several designers’ lines, whether referencing the increasing spending power of the Muslim world or simply expressing a yearning for the exotic Orient.
Dhoti pants or harem pants?

Kaftans and harem pants referenced the life of Yves Saint Laurent at Gaultier, while Cavalli’s show was opened by three female figures clad in Moorish robes who lit a large flame with their torches. Inspired by a recent trip to Indonesia, he mixed solids and dark colours together, sending out Oriental-style dhoti pants that billow about the thighs and tighten up towards the ankle, teamed with jackets lined in matching fabric.

“A man has to be a man... with a pinch of fantasy to emphasise his individual personality. I’m a man, no longer super-young, and today I’m proposing to you what I would wear... and what my son would wear too,” he said in his design note.

And Umit Benan simply returned to his Turkish roots, showing authentic drop-crotch, high-waisted pants, which he teamed with tailored jackets. Shirts had Turkish cuffs with ethnic touches.

Men dip into women’s wardrobes!

The week’s other big trend was androgyny, with everyone from Gaultier to Belgian star Raf Simons and emerging French designer Alexis Mabille blending the genders in a new-wave cocktail of sex and sensuality.

“Women are not wearing men’s clothes, but men are wearing women’s clothes — and that’s the difference,” Lanvin creative director Alber Elbaz said. The line was a fusion between active wear and classic tailoring, with long, lean silhouettes and garments cast from new-age fabrics and microfibers. Silk blazers, high-water trousers and long, slim shorts were notable pieces.

Mabille, meanwhile, went all hippie, scattering jackets with crochet daisies and sending out poetic models in short jumpsuits with daisies tangled in their hair. (Gold lamé trunks were the other highlight of this show.)

American designer Rick Owens put out translucent, asymmetrical tank tops teamed with drop-crotch trousers and high-heeled platform boots that borrowed straight from the womens’ racks, confusing the audience all together.

Besides sharply cut suits, Simons’ line featured tops that zipped down the back to celebrate his 15th anniversary, with a fashion-forward, body-hugging line. “There has been more and more liberation, you know, about sexuality, gender, taking care of yourself but I think that men’s fashion itself doesn’t make those big steps,” Simons, who also designs for minimalist label Jil Sander, told AP.  “The open back is a way of making suggestions about new options, a new kind of feeling, new things to think about.”

Jewellery took the entire trend further: Lanvin’s models wore necklaces of iron tusks, chains, stone and wood, while Belgium’s Walter Van Beirendonck, one of the original Antwerp Six, sent out his refreshingly retrosexual models in pearl necklaces.

Here’s what some of the season’s top designers are sending out for Spring/Summer 2011


The steamy atmosphere was palpable from the start: the famously mischievous designer opened the show with a fantasy of muscled hunks in tiny towels sitting around a mock hammam at the top of the stage. As they splashed water on one another and gave each other massages, you just wanted to be right there, in the middle of it all – and were instantly ready to love the show.

“It was a mix between (Yves) Saint Laurent’s elegance, the way he dressed in the 1970s, the Moroccan influence and the psychedelic spirit of that period,” the designer told reporters after the show.

Kaftans and harem pants continued the Arabic theme, while tiny Speedos with strategically placed patches kept the temperatures at fever levels. And in line with the 3D trend that threatens to change how we watch our movies, the audience put on special glasses to take in the printed silk robes and pyjamas that closed out the show.

Giorgio Armani’s second line was a radical departure from the relaxed easy look we’ve come to associate with the label. Instead, Emporio Armani was a leather fetishist’s fantasy come true, with models dressed in black leather military outfits marching down the ramp. From leather caps and lace-up boots to short-sleeve shirts  and pants, with chains everywhere, it was the perfect look for our times, signalling the hard-edged glamour we seem to be finally returning to. The collection is something youngsters would “happily wear for their nocturnal wanderings in search of fun,” Armani was quoted as saying.

The three-button suit made a welcome return at fashion-forward Miuccia Prada’s Milan show, but in slim-fitted silhouettes that should send us all back to the gym right away.
The designer said her range of bold colours (intense blues and bright oranges) and clear lines was “simplicity regained,” which meant striped boatneck sweaters, pullover V-necks, bermuda shorts and skinny pants. All in all, it was a young, vibrant, energetic line that promised a new energy – an appropriate metaphor for a world struggling to shake off the blues.

She told The New York Times she had “wanted to work on banality. Not with a theoretical approach but exploring real needs to make clothes one can wear every day”.


Sushi may be essential to Japanese cuisine, and accordingly, trout proved inspirational for this Japanese house. Its designer, Dai Fujiwara, said that he had spent his childhood looking for camouflage trout in rivers and streams, and said he was inspired by their qualities: “They were so fast, at the same time cautious and patient and foxy and careful.”

The result were trout-patterned suits in grey and orange and airy, floaty pieces in flyaway cottons and linens. Origami raincoats and suits with crochet collars all referenced the fish’s camouflage qualities.


China ruled at the luxury luggage label, where quilted silk blazers and leather pieces with cutouts of Chinese dragons featured heavily. Models wore temporary tattoos of Chinese zodiac signs, referencing the button-down shirts printed with similar designs.

“China is becoming really important,” menswear designer Paul Helbers said in a preview of the collection — which was built, he said, partly around the sartorial style of high-rollers at Shanghai casinos. Amazon skydivers and Scandinavian midsummer revellers were also among his references, he said, adding: “It’s about the idea of travel without leaving home, (made for) the digital bohemian who travels while staying behind his computer screen.”

The entire collection, made from light nylons and silks, was designed to be part of a travel wardrobe.

Silk trousers were cut like jogger pants, while parachute-fabric jackets competed with leather blazers for on-the-go comfort.

Perhaps the most innovative was a lizard skin printed jacket that could be folded, origami-style, into a neat little backpack.

U Cicely

(Published 09 July 2010, 11:51 IST)

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