Portmanteau List: Oscars and Gowns

Where Oscar de la Renta plays a bigger role than the winning role of the state of American decadence as Oscar Wilde pointed out*, the Oscar Awards march towards awarding the roles of cinema. I, for one, take the opportunity to enjoy some of the most spectacular gowns of the past decade and thank all three Oscars, whichever their proposition or position. In order of preference, none less...

Penelope Cruz in Versace

Julia Roberts in Vintage Valentino

Anne Hathaway in Armani Privé

Zoe Saldana in Givenchy Haute Couture by Riccardo Tisci

Kate Hudson in Versace

Penelope Cruz in custom made Chanel by Karl Lagerfeld

Hilary Swank in Guy Laroche

* Oscar Wilde quote - "America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilisation in between."

Portmanteau Commentary: Trends and the Direction of Collective Creativity

When I was a kid and discovered the answer to philosophical questions I had never discussed with anyone or read about - merely by sitting and thinking on my own and thinking myself incredibly clever when partaking in sharing said knowledge only to discover in many cases that others had thought much the same centuries and centuries ago as well as that most "grown ups" already posessed the knowledge of said answer. The difference between them and me, I always thought, was that they were taught and told what I had discovered on my own - mere knowledge of something cannot equal the discovery of the same.

Unfortunately, the reality is different, and knowledge amounts to the same level of recognition as discovery - "That's what Aristoteles said" irks me when actually, it's what I discovered myself, no matter how many centuries later. Similarly, I'm sure, as is the case with many an argument I make, including, most likely, this very one you're reading.

When at the brink of completion of a few pieces for a collection finds me discovering other designers having gone in the same direction, I must humbly step aside and deal with the "that looks like something I saw before I saw yours" even if the creation of the latter was not in the knowledge of the former. As you may have noticed in the previous post, I have hinted on the comparisons between Lira Leirner pieces and recently strutted London Fashion Week runway pieces. I'm not going above my head and pretending my pieces are the same, but when you've researched and put into details, fabric, silhouettes and storylines into pieces still in development or almost finished and then see a painfully near enough version strutting down the catwalk in a higher finish, it stabs.

However, I cannot say I'm the only one. Copying is a fickle subject in fashion, where does "trend" go over to plain copying? Does following a feature even if started by a certain brand result in "trend" or "copying" despite differentiating interpretations?

For instance, this season I've seen the thin yet sturdy material version of last season's Miu Miu power dress feature across several collections.

Miu Miu dress with "that" bow on uncountable covers


Valentino Haute Couture Paris Spring 2011

Burberry Prorsum, Autumn/ Winter 2011/ 2012

Is this a trend? I personally think, in this instance, because there are many ways to tie a bow yet it is this particular way that I had not seen around last season apart from in "that" Miu Miu dress that any other designer that uses this way of tying a bow, a few seasons later, is copying. I will forever refer to this style of bow as the "Miu Miu power dress bow".

On the other hand, there are incidents which make me feel bad for the designer whose collection came after - because surely, being within the same season, copying could not have taken place but merely a kindred direction of creativity which I prefer to identify as a trend. For instance, I could recognize an affinity between the lopsided cowl necked gown with asymetric angular skirting of Christian Dior with Maria Grachvogel's black and simpler silhouette, both of which are cringely similar. Unlike with the Miu Mu Power Dress Bows, however, I can see that is merely a direction creativity, a conciousness of seasonal features shared that are identified as trends. Similarly, along the line of these thoughts, I excuse myself for having come up with features and ideas alongside those I've witnessed on the runway this season and wish that I will escape the fate of being accused of copying merely because my creativity is hindered by the costs of production and grand public awareness.

Christian Dior Paris Spring Haute Couture 2011
Maria Grachvogel London Fashion Week Autumn/ Winter 2011/ 2012

Portmanteau List: Details at House of Holland

Usually I prefer to follow the impression a collection makes on me as a whole. However, there are details that particularly speak to me as a designer and others which make me cringe. Sometimes I come across pieces and features throughout a collection which I wish I had been in charge of so as to exclude those little details that would have made the garment perfect, in my eyes. Each to their own, of course, but at the House of Holland show this feeling was particularly prominant, most likely because I use so many of the features in my own pieces (the good ones only, of course ;).

The overal fun preppy tweed and colored print and tights, wonderfully formed collars, color combinations that should hurt the eyes but simply make you think "well yes, of course" and pearls in detail I appreciated as greatly as the sporty cuts and striped socks over University common room pool ball or letters tights. I personally didn't enjy the random lace, occasional double front skirt slits and the "intercourse" indicating lewd hand sign print on an oversized jumper was plain out of place - if not in the story of University students in layers, surely sartorially.

Love the pearl sleeves - in fact, I would don this outfit out and about if I were that tall.

This dress would happily find a place in a Lira Leirner collection - the back is a deep V-neck, too, none other.

Pink and orange? Well, of course.

Pearls, bustier neckline, tweed, length and shape - all very familiar with Lira Leirner designs in mind

All images courtesy of Vogue.com - please click the link to view the entire House of Holland Autumn/Winter 2011-12 collection

Portmanteau List: Fashion Week Favourites - Jonathan Saunders

Maybe I'm close minded, but I always maintain there's only one's own aesthetic one should follow in the process of deciding which pleasures of culture to share - at least on their own blog, surely that's allowed. My own, most certainly in fashion, are classic, minimalistic, neat and balanced - sometimes elaborately and intrinsically theatrical, but I don't harbor much love for the sartorially depressing reminders of the shades of the weather we are witnessing.

Sure, shapes should be explored, and silhouettes pushed but that doesn't mean I have to always like it. Unfortunately, this season there have been some painful silhouettes witnessed - remember the Chanel couture horror a few weeks ago? Despite the love I felt for many of the menswear Burberry pieces, their interpretation for the female figure was often merely that - and worse. Of course the figure hugging shapes were represented in the traditional coat line, however, the new silhouettes explored I could name nothing but "miss" with the gravity working its way in pulling down the corners of my mouth in disappointment. I'm aware I'm picking at the big ones, because I know it doesn't affect them, but that unfortunately doesn't mean I have been too impressed with the mejority of the smaller collections this season either.

However, some rays of light always shine through, and contrast more starkly than usual in their aesthetically and technically pleasing collections against the melee of gray mass that has spread this season.

One of them is Jonathan Saunders. Heralded even by Vogue.com as "one of the highlights of [London fashion] week", it's primly high necked yet flattering silhouettes in beautiful and young colors evoked a smile in my soul with beautiful William Morris reminiscent prints on solid, flattering structures and base colors.

All images courtesy of Vogue.com - click on the link to see the rest of the collection!