Category Archives: Collections

Adam Lippes Resort 2015: A Showroom Review

Adam_Lippes_001_1366.450x675

Adam_Lippes_005_1366.450x675

Adam_Lippes_008_1366.450x675

One wondered what the future had in store for Adam Lippes after he narrowly escaped fashion purgatory and bought back his name from Kellwood two years ago. Since then he’s retooled his design manifesto and company culture, abandoning corporate ambition and distancing his clothes from a cannibalizing contemporary market. Today he runs a smaller and more familial operation, the kind required nowadays if a designer is to truly engage luxury clothing in a sound and sustainable manner. It’s certainly no easy feat but going by the clothes Lippes’s efforts have certainly been worthwhile.

Adam_Lippes_012_1366.450x675

Adam_Lippes_013_1366.450x675

Adam_Lippes_014_1366.450x675

Over the last several seasons he has distilled a design vernacular built on the tenets of the best of American fashion: ease, sportswear, classicism, timelessness. For many designers working in New York these tenets can  become tenuous, reduced to corrupted clichés haphazardly spat out to journalists, conflating the words of “classic” and “uninspired.” Should you ever forget what it means for a garment to be timeless, for it to truly evoke that rare sensation of imperishability, Adam Lippes serves as a refreshing reminder. The new resort collection reads like a “best of” of American fashion in the 1970s when its designers, armed with a minimalist rigor, soft fabrics, sportswear separates and a fashionably fluid line, championed a new modern woman. That those ideas, updated with a thoughtful and utterly contemporary sensibility, that they look so new and bold today as they surely did then is a testament to their infinite appeal and Lippes’s adept ability in handling them. The spirits of Zoran and Halston are present in the floor-length monastic dresses, coats and square cut tops. Fabricated in the most luxurious silks and cashmeres they are no less minimal or exquisite than what those minimalist masters managed in their prime. The flirty but pragmatic appeal of a paper bag-waist in a striped cotton pajama pant and in a leather skirt echo Donna Karan and Louis Dell’Olio’s seductively sensible efforts for Anne Klein. The trapunto stitching used on collars, waistbands, and belts throughout the collection, notable on a v-neck Korean do bok top (rendered in fine silk and chambray) brought to mind the worldly explorations of Bonnie Cashin, a designer who never shied away from adapting an idea from the other side of the globe if it could coax a modern innovation.

Adam_Lippes_015_1366.450x675

Adam_Lippes_018_1366.450x675

Adam_Lippes_021_1366.450x675

To mention that the clothes Adam Lippes designs are impeccably crafted and finished is redundant as quality workmanship is necessity when addressing simplicity and minimalism. But, from design to construction, Lippes’s clothes are beautifully thought out. Every line, stitch and fold is crafted and considered. And whether it be silk, cashmere coating or humble cotton poplin, each fabric represents the most refined of their genre. It stands to be reiterated: the clothes are impeccable. And it must be, the customer Lippes addresses is a discerning one. She is a woman who demands the best and is to willing to pay for it. She can’t be bothered with trends or fashion shenanigans, she is too sure of herself for those. She expects her clothes, like all the best clothes do, to enhance her own natural appeal, not obscure it, and to grant her ease and therefore elegance as she gets on with her life. One could say after such a bold move to relaunch his name and under such risky auspices that Adam Lippes has come out a winner. Working out of an enchanted townhouse in the West Village, a real modern maison, he has escaped fashion’s distracting din, enabled to toil on his beautiful clothes with integrity. Indeed, Lippes champions forward, but the real winners are the women who get to wear his clothes and live in them.

 

Giorgio Armani, 1984

“The Armani look of studied simplicity has such strength it tends to make conventionally designed women’s clothes look overdone.”

- BERNADINE MORRIS, 1983

Calvin Klein, 1991

Calvin91a  Calvin91b

Calvin91c

“Calvin Klein has put a new spin on minimalism. Everything that could possibly be distracting is pared away. Makeup is natural. So are the coiffures. So are the clothes.

‘I feel so good about the collection,’ the designer said yesterday after his spring show. ‘I feel it’s for the modern woman. It’s all about softness.’

It is also about restraint. Those who feel clothes have to be elaborately decorated and vividly colored will not find much here to admire. This is probably the coolest, most understated collection of the season.

Since it is for warm weather, the coolness is not inappropriate.

Consider the colors: parchment, platinum, celadon and, of course, white. In this company, aqua stands out as a vivid hue.

Consider the shapes: a gently cut dress, with a high round neckline, camisole straps or no straps at all, is the key to everything.

The fabrics are equally self-effacing: washed silk, silk or wool crepe, linen and cashmere.

The clothes are the kind that show off a great figure and make one not so great look better than it is. The models skim along on flat beige T-strap shoes, looking totally at ease.

While those shapely dresses are the main event, they receive support from softly tailored jackets (often the same mid-thigh length as the dresses they accompany), skinny pants and shorts. Wrapped effects maintain the soft treatment in blouses.

There are just a few variations to the dominant look: a trench coat or two to cover everything up; a shot of navy as a change from all the pale tones; some all-over beads.

But the collection has a cohesion and a directness that is rarely achieved. All the ideas have passed through the designer’s sensibility, and he has worked over them until he got them just right. If it’s flash you’re looking for, this may not be the right stop. But if it’s elegance and style, it’s a real treat.”

- BERNADINE MORRIS, 1990

Nicolas Ghesquière Hearts Koos

Tim Blanks reports on Nicolas Ghesquière’s Koos Van Den Akker inspired Spring/Summer 2002 collection for Balenciaga.

Bonnie Cashin, 1962/Tom Ford, 2014

unnamed-3Bonnie Cashin for Sills, 1962

TomFordTom Ford, 2014

Patrick Kelly, 1988

Two years after this show was staged its designer, Patrick Kelly, would die at the age of 35. Another victim lost to the AIDS epidemic, another name in fashion lost to time. At his peak Kelly was the ultimate American in Paris, born and raised in the deep south, designing and showing his collections in the French capitol to great fanfare and excitement. That he was an American working in French fashion and was regarded with the same esteem as Sonia Rykiel and Karl Lagerfeld is noteworthy. That he was a black American is even more so.

Accounts of his life suggest Kelly found an acceptance and understanding overseas that he never could have had in the U.S., it’s a sentiment echoed by performer Josephine Baker and writer James Baldwin, both of whom had tremendous experiences living in the city of lights where they could escape a troubling history of racism and prejudice. In 1988 Kelly stood out as an ironic foil to the status quo; working in the upper echelons of a class-centric industry, setting standards of taste and beauty that would ultimately filter back to his native country — a land that would so easily dismiss him as “black” and nothing more. Kelly would however use his black identity as a theme and play off racist stereotypes of Black Americans that have plagued and haunted them. He adopted the Golliwog, a children’s character popular in the late 19th century, a frighteningly dehumanized black boy, as his talisman. He would flirt with stereotypes, re-appropriate them, recast them as tongue-in-cheek fashion, as if to suggest that embracing these memes  could serve to render them powerless.

Never really known for being a great cutter or technician, Kelly’s charm was in his use of bold colors, punchy prints, and witty embellishment. Multicolored buttons sewn in various motifs were his most famous signature; a nod to his childhood in the south. His shows were humorous affairs. Models smiled and audiences laughed, fashion was to be fun and Kelly represented this idea in the French fashion landscape. Having begun by selling his clothes on the street he had worked his way to the top. And with backing by clothing conglomerate Warnaco and increasing exposure in the media, Kelly was poised to become the next big American designer. But like many stories from the ’80s his time was cut short well before he could make a lasting impact. Kelly died due to complications of AIDS on New Years day, 1990.

Thierry Mugler, 1984

Merry X-Mas!

Lanvin, 1990

Lanvin1

Lanvin3

Lanvin2

Lanvin4

Lanvin5

Geoffrey Beene, 1991

Undercover, 2006

Undercover2

Undercover3

Undercover4

Undercover6

Undercover7

Undercover8

Undercover9

Undercover10

Undercover11

Undercover12

Undercover13

Undercover14