1. Aztec Ascension

Click here for the complete collection on Style.com.

Just wait. It gets better.

Jean Paul Gaultier is already the mad scientist, the mixer, the magician.

While probably the simplest, most classic look in the collection, I just love this suit (and that hat!) too much not to post.
Gaultier's bustier gone buckaroo. Now we're getting somewhere...

I have been sitting on my notes for the couture line up for over a week now, attempting to formulate my ideas in some kind of publishable way.

You won't even believe how much further it goes from here. I love this.

This collection, though my favorite, is hardest for me to talk about.

Maybe because it's my favorite.

I imagine sacrificed virgins resurrected as ferocious and enchanted demigods.

Joan of Arc as a conquistador.

Pirates and pioneers and priestesses at play and at war.

Mythical warrior women, tribal goddesses.

See what I mean?

One if by land,

The references and touches here are all over the place and yet all point in the same direction.

Two if by sea.

This is so inventive and wild and wonderful. I’ve gone through these photos tens and tens of times.

With each viewing it gets better and better. You're picking up what I'm putting down, aren't you? This stuff is magical.

As with Thimister’s collection, war, imperialism, and cultural conflict are referenced, but here there is less of a political bend. It is impossible to tell in any look from which side the warrior comes, or which references within a single look hold the real power.

Pieces from everywhere. Amazing.

Each outfit is a character, captures a mood, but the stirrings are so fun-loving, and fierce, and frenzied, and fabulous that I think analyzing too much or over-politicizing is to miss the point for JPG. Thimister shot at something (pun intended) that not many designers have been willing to do, I do not think that Gaultier wishes to stir up such direct and dirty feelings. This is fantasy and myth more than war and history. Illusion more than allusion.

Because sometimes beauty is the point, is the unifying factor, is the reason for art as much as any message.

And this is often true of fashion at its best. Which couture shows should be.

All images taken from Style.com.


2. Bloody Good, Thimister

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Yes, yes, YES!!!

Does it only glorify gore?
Or hit on devastating beauty?

This touches on so many things at once: imperialism, death, violence and villains. It is unafraid and in your face and I imagine jaws hung open as the models marched down the runway.

Does it make you feel guilty for coveting the clothes of conquerers?

The collection is cohesive, contained, controversial, and catechizing. The tailoring is crisp, clean, but shapely. These are obviously well-made clothes.

Just play Seven Nation Army over this whole thing.

Knowing the history and present of the apparel industry, these clothes not only evoke the bloody and violent imperialism of the past but they also are a bitten-off-tongue-in-cheek reference to current first world-third world dynamics.

Does it make you think about the part you play? Or do the red sequins destract you?

The collection is said to be inspired by a photograph of Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich, Emperor Nicholas II’s murdered 13-year-old son, who was routinely dressed in uniform as a boy.

It's at once upsetting and inspiring.

This color palette is amazing too. Red and olive together make one of my favorite all time ever color combinations.

"What happened then was the start of modernism: war, sorrow, destruction. We're still dealing with now."
"And the lack of creativity and spirituality." --Josephus Thimister.

This is Thimister’s first couture collection in ten years.

More pretty hints at violence.

It was self-financed.

Is she an angel or a WWI missile?

It is incredible.

All images taken from Style.com.

4. Drop Dead Dior

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Look, the whole vampire thing has been done to death. We get it, we’re over it.1

I mean, really.

But! I find so much of this so drool-worthy.

"Why no, sir. I don't own any horses."

This whole “prewar Southern socialite turned vamp, Scarlett O’Hara at a formal ball at Fangtasia” thing? It’s working for me.

After sweet tea and blood sucking in the sitting room.
She will hunt you down. And she will hurt you. But all you will be able to think about are those gloves.

The color palette is a bit all over the place, but the jewel tones are fantastic. This spread also kind of works. Not all the undead DAR dress the same, you know.

That blue!

The tailoring is beyond amazing.

How incredible is this? I love the theatricality of all of this.
I mean, what is even going on here? It's as if it was tailored by fairies with magical, antigravity powers.

Again, I want to be bored by the whole vampire thing but this is so unabashedly goth yet girly, precise but frantic–not unlike a vampire on the hunt–and I cannot help but be breath-taken and agog impressed.

Blood lust and glory.

Also? I’ve been drawn in recently by the simple drama of opera gloves. These colored and leather variations are incredible. I covet.

Seriously, why don't I own brightly colored, leather, long past the elbow gloves? This is a quality of life issue.

1. Okay. Admission: I’m totally not over the vampire thing. Twihards can suck it, I haven’t jumped on that G-rated train yet, but Buffy is probably the greatest show of all time, and I’m loving the Sookie Stackhouse books these days, and True Blood is cool, dead sexy, and has one of the best theme songs/openings of all time.

All images taken from Style.com.

Click here for the complete collection on Style.com.

5. Moon Over Armani

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The construction on this one is incredible, no?

This line begins to strike the balance I personally am looking for in a new collection. It’s distinctly Armani but still distinct and creative enough to be recognizable as this collection down the line. There is something very “the future as imagined by the early 1960s” and also very “Dynasty at the Cantina” about this, and yet it feels very original and true to itself.

See what I mean?

It’s good though, no? It’s somehow both aristocratic and bonkers.

Somehow whimsical and refined, this is over the top and yet not at all.

The tailoring is directional and finely-tuned. Nothing feels too little or too much.

I mean, look at this. How do you not secretly cherish this? It's clever and arch...
...yet moody and sleek.

I kind of love it.

This one is like being bubbly and giddy at the Planetarium and getting to wear the whole experience in some kind of glorious power suit.

All images taken from Style.com.

6. Victory for Valentino

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Okay, it’s a smidge Balmain, and a little bit Rodarte, and I think I whiff a bit of Lanvin, but I’m really happy with where Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli are taking the house after the controversy and confusion that the house of Valentino has suffered over the last several seasons. There were some pieces too that didn’t seem to quite fit with the rest of the collection but this is a minor complaint. Or rather the off pieces didn’t disrupt what is otherwise WOW.

I love how the nude works with that shot of yellow and moody blue eyes.

They called the whole thing “the Garden of Eden in the cyberworld” and I dig that about this. But to me it seems very “runaway boho princess on a vision quest in the desert.”

How cool is the color blocking here? How ohh-las-laa are these colors together?

The color palette is unquestionably good and while it calls forth other houses as much as Valentino (so little red!), there’s still innovation to be found in the recycling. In fact, the more I look at this, the more I like.

Like this, for example? Swoon.

Yes, we’ve got draping, nudes, and color blocking. All of which have been done many times over as of late, but the it all feels fresh and inventive here.

Especially the color-blocking.

You can see the Garden of Eden in these hints and peeks at nudes and nudity, and there is an air of a future world, but to me--I'm tellin'ya--it's runaway princess on a vision quest in the desert all the way. She maybe took up with bandits. Or dances for buskers and gypsies.

We’ve also seen designers really play with pants (and pantslessness) lately but these new models seems truly original, flattering, and cool.

Um, yeah. I know. Wicked.

Moreover, the line itself managed to be cohesive without being the least bit repetitive. Each piece is unique and stands alone, but taken together all of the pieces unify in one tone, one mood.

And can we talk about the styling for a sec? Because I need to do this to my eyes. And the body paint is so otherworldly. Maybe the princess is from another planet? Like Superman or the Little Prince. In any case, I want. This is a night-time look though. Obvs.

Again, Maria, Pier Paolo, Grazi.

Yes, please.

All images taken from Style.com.

8. So-So Chanel

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Okay, I’m probably going to get hate mail after this,1 but Karl Lagerfeld is just not my favorite. I get that he’s done amazing work but I’m just not sure he’s at the top of his game any longer. I hated the clogs and many of the looks in Chanel Spring 2010 RTW and this collection just feels half-assed in places. Maybe it’s just that Karl (can I call you Karl?) says such crazy shit and I wish his clothes were as noteworthy as his bons mots.2 Maybe I just expect too much from Lagerfeld and the House of Chanel.

I do adore this color. But then I look rad in this color, so there you go.
HATE. (Seriously though, how dead-on cool are these metallic, fingerless, Karl-bot gloves?)

The Chanel tweed is a stand-by and I love it (again and again, I will covet you forever Classic Chanel Tweed) but these iterations don’t do a lot to impress me. The palette does little to woo. It’s certainly season appropriate but that suitability–compounded, I think, by the kitsch and quirk of the awesome hair– comes off too twee for the brand.

Detailing done divine.

In places, the metallic detailing advances the overall aesthetic and adds to the already luxe tweed. In other places, it is overboard, seems sloppy, and risks drowning all that tiny Karl touts so much.

And here the metallic is too much. TOO MUCH.

Things I love: the Minnie Mouse hair, those metallic gloves (le sigh), those spaceman booties, the tulle bows in those bouffant mouse-ear nests and at the model’s swan necks, the pretty dresses, the simple metallic detailing.

See here's pretty dress.
Oooh look: Another pretty dress.

Things I hate: those sparkly tights, the shorts,3 the other dresses, the over-the-top detailing.

The worst dress of some very bad and just not great dresses. This may be the fugliest, illest-fittingest dress in all the land.

1. Yeah right. Like anyone but my friends are even reading this. Hi, friends!
2. Some people hate shorts on principal. I am not one of those people. I just don’t like these shorts. They do not flatter.
3. No joke, Karl Lagerfeld says the craziest, off-the-cuff stuff. Some of it is mean or ignorant, some of it brilliant, and some of it totally bat shit. Have you seen Karl Lagerfeld’s Guide to Life? It’s not real, but fakekarl.com and the real Karl? They’re pretty toe-to-toe on the WTF quotient.

9. Meh Mabille

The styling is the coolest freaking part of this show. Unfortunately, the styling is the coolest freaking part of this show.

Hell-yeah hair from Mabille's couture runway.
Absolutely bold, questionably haute.
A bit more interesting... Only I don't like pink and red together. I am not a first grader's Valentine.

Seriously though, I love, love, love the color-blocked hair with these clothes. It’s amazing.

My favorite look from this line.

But as important as styling is to the show itself and as much as it holds the power to heighten, underline, or compliment the look and feel of a line, it does not make the line. I think these clothes are fine. But color-blocking is nothing we haven’t seen before, it’s been touched on by many a designer in the last few seasons, and there is nothing here that warrants a “couture” tag for me. Other than the styling, there’s nothing here that’s new or particularly innovative.

Okay, this one is beautiful. Not ground-breaking, but beautiful.