Maison Margiela Spring 2016
Subversion and humor are aspects of Martin Margiela's legacy that John Galliano magnified with his ravishing spring collection — a dressy affair that equally exalted the English designer's theatrical, couture chops. Could there be a more witty meeting of the two aesthetics than a sculpted black cloqué coat stained with white paint as if the woman had sat on a wet Thonet chair? He repeated the idea with a pleated tennis dress (wet black park bench) and a grand infanta in red (wet gold throne, presumably). You could sense how tickled Galliano must have been to apply Margiela's conceptual, DIY ideas to his Fifties-flecked ladylike daywear and sinuous evening dresses.
Dries Van Noten Spring 2016
"A flamboyant woman. She dares, she wears," Dries Van Noten observed backstage. Indeed she does. Even by the standard of Van Noten's intensely decorative aesthetic, a powerful exuberance permeated the spring collection the designer showed to the dissonant strains of a live performance by the string quartet Balanescu. In fact, dissonance prevailed as Van Noten crossed his signature elegantly tailored bohemianism with a wry sensuality that both mocked and embraced commonly held notions of sexy dressing. And oh, yes, retro! — just a dash and deftly applied — in the models' Forties rolled hair, the occasional strong shoulder, constructed Fifties bras.
Rochas Spring 2016
Alessandro Dell'Acqua collections at Rochas are for fashion maximalists, who are die-hard about dressing up even as society swings ever more casual. His collections have been kooky concoctions of the hyper-feminine and ornate dedicated to explosions of color, cartoonish embellishment and insistent throwbacks to old-school couture. Fun and flamboyant, the clothes can feel at odds with modernity. But they don't have to be, as Dell'Acqua demonstrated for spring with a lineup that made the art of overdressing appealing and accessible for those below peacock-punching weight. Dell'Acqua chose for his seasonal muse Gala Dalí, the wife of Salvador and a highly influential force of nature in the Surrealist art scene. That world of artful, amusing madness manifested in exaggerated sculptural bows; oversize black-and-white stripes; surf motifs and an improbably graceful and rich embroidery depicting a herd of giraffes under the rays of the sun.
Vionnet Spring 2016
It was clear after Vionnet's spring runway show that creative director Goga Ashkenazi was out of her depth. She enlisted Hussein Chalayan — who had recently designed two of Vionnet's demi-couture collections — to join the ready-to-wear design team in an ongoing contributing capacity, beginning with spring. Chalayan's input made a clear difference for the better, as the house pleating and draping was handled with far more subtlety on powdery goddess gowns and tops cut with a floor-length pleated panel down the front and paired with pants to signal evening modernity.