August 4, 2013

Alexis Mabille Fall 2013 Couture

Oh, couture.  The season that makes every fashion lover's heart flutter.  Nonetheless, I think it's safe to say that I haven't been truly infatuated by a Couture collection since Christian Dior Fall 2010 Couture.  Nothing - not even Givenchy's ethereal creations - has lifted me up to the same level of euphoria that Dior did back then.  However, Alexis Mabille came close this season.

So close that Youtube users are comparing him to John Galliano at Dior (To the one user who so venomously denied that this was Dior: Face it, Galliano redefined Dior to the point they were one and the same, and this collection undoubtedly breathed wisps of Galliano's work.  After all, Mabille did work under Galliano at Dior for 9 years...).  Mabille took the sweeping brushstrokes of 19th century painter Giovanni Boldini as inspiration, resulting in a painterly sensibility not unlike the one Galliano possessed when he emulated flower petals on his dresses.  Mabille applied his inspiration to trouser legs, leading to a stunning set of muted, ombré pants that reflected very well the true character of paint.  I adore these pants.

There were only two pairs before the show moved on to a play on texture.  Lace and satin, embellishment and organza...all in a lovely pastel palette.  The minimalistic shoes acted as a great blank canvas on which to showcase the clothing, and the "pressed" flowers in the hair heightened the decadence.  Trousers were as fitted as if they were painted on, but every look had a blasé edge that mirrored the trailing end of a brushstroke.

From here on is where Mabille had a slight mishap, stunting its ability to rival Dior's work.  Mabille began to show leg-of-mutton sleeves and duchess satin gowns.  The change of pace was too heavy, and the stiff folds of the dresses were harsh.  One creation had an unfortunate resemblance to the Grim Reaper, albeit in a slick, almost metallic cloak.  I do agree with Nicole Phelps of when she calls this portion of the show "more of a thud" than luminous.  But all was not lost; a sophisticated cross-body neckline dress with a cascading string of pearls reminded us that the collection had its moments worthy of praise. 

The initial blasé air soon gave off a slovenly appearance when the leg-of-mutton sleeves billowed into excessive volume.  Volume can be done well, but it becomes very difficult in duchess satin.  Few designers have made it work for contemporary times.  It ended up being a simple black velvet gown with a flower design that stole the latter end of the show.

It's not rare to see growing designers start their show better than they end it, or vice versa.  An incoherent collection signals the lack of a strong, solid vision, or a misunderstanding of how different pieces come together to create a melodic tune.  Experienced designers start strong, and end strong.  However, this is not a review against Mabille.  Remember, he had almost equaled Dior in my eyes!  I find him to be a talented designer.  Phelps picked on the fact that his exaggerated shoulders would never be worn by the living woman, but my oh my, have you forgetten that this is couture?  That this is fashion?  (Evidently, Phelps has not yet proved to me she is a critic among the ranks of Tim Blanks).  Designing is a process of growth that takes many years of hard work, thick skin, and gritty experience.  Mabille's passion shows he has potential.  You start strong, you end strong.

Watch the entire show here.

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  1. gorgeous!!!!!!

  2. Oh, this does remind me of back when Dior was exciting! What a show! I'm not too crazy about most of those ending looks, but I appreciate the boldness of everything. My favorite looks are the sweet pink dress and the second pants look. The black gown is stunning as well. And I adore the colorful ankle-strap heels.

    May the Force be with you.