One of the defining couturiers of the 1990's created a collection in tribute to one of the biggest risk-takers in fashion at Paris Fashion Week. Christian Lacroix unveiled his homage to Elsa Schiaparelli at my French favorite, the museum of Les Arts Décoratifs.
"Lacroix Sweetie! Lacroix!" was the rallying cry of my fellow Parsons fashion design students back in the late 1990's when the BBC's "Absolutely Fabulous" reigned our television lives. The designer's big bows, big silhouettes, bright colors and odd mixes of textures was the height of decadence against the minimalist styling of his American counterparts.
If you saw the Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibit last year on Elsa Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations, you saw the surrealist influences, circus motifs and the Italian's love of shocking pink. Having one over the top designer create a collection as tribute to another sounded fantastic!
Unfortunately, the final effect was not as spectacular as I had hoped. To be fair, I have not seen this exhibit yet in person. However, the styles I have seen appear to be a diminished version of both of these fashion icons. Lacroix referenced the vintage silhouettes of built up shoulders and sculpted waist shapes. The signature pink was definitely there as well as embroidered appliques of elephants. Luxurious embroideries on jackets and full coats or dresses reminiscent of Lacroix's own trademark looks were also referenced.
The collection does look beautiful, but both designers have produced much better. Was I expecting too much to hope to see Lacroix create something that did more than ape Schiaparelli's greatest hits in modern fabrics? Maybe I wanted to see him challenge himself in taking his own aesthetic further by referencing her design principles, but interpreting them in a more contemporary light, rather than literal? Maybe an example of today's "media" circus? Motifs of electronic media made from high tech materials appliqued onto shocking pink skinny jeans? Today's idea of surrealism in the form of reality show pop culture?
Maybe in the age of constant brand collaborations, certain creatives need to stand alone. What did YOU think of this collection?
Photos by ANDREA ADRIANI/Imaxtree