As you may remember, Courrèges, Cardin and Rabanne entered fashion history with their futuristic designs made in unconventional synthetic materials following innovative construction techniques.
We may live in a rather pessimistic age, in a world riddled by financial, economic and social crises, but we are also experimenting great technological optimism and, in a way, this was reflected in a few Autumn/Winter 2010-11 collections.
Superficially looking at Giles’ new designs, you felt the childish glee that pervaded his S/S 2010 designs was somehow gone.
Yet if you paid careful attention to the runway printed with cartoonish clouds, the Gremlin and oversized puffball handbags with leather googly eyes (by Katie Hillier) and focused a little bit better on the garments worn by the models, you realised irony and optimism weren’t certainly missing.
The most conservative styles in a muted palette featuring beige, camel and cinnamon revealed in fact corset-like structures underneath and a sheer back panel while the skirts had folds that gave the illusion of a dress left unzipped on the hips.
While such styles evoked visions out of the 60s, the jackets with reinforced details (similar to the structured leather coat dress that was part of the A/W 2010 pre-collection), the metallic bronze padded ski vests matched with short skirts or metallic brocade trousers revealed a different derivation.
One of the inspirations behind this collection were the surreal and at times disturbing images of Dutch art photographer Erwin Olaf, but the irony, the structured leather details and the silver/grey and orange palette called to mind a series of B-movies.
The colours chosen for the dresses with frayed hems shaped like clouds that turned the models into survivors of a doomed space voyage somehow reminded of the sort of saturated orange and yolk yellow nuances in Curtis Harrington’s Queen of Blood and Mario Bava’s Planet of the Vampires (if you want to have a look at the space suits and orange/grey shades in Bava's film, check out the videos in the previous post on “Cosmic Fashion”).
In a way, such references wouldn't be too much out of place on a Giles runway: fashionistas may remember that the designer's Fall 2008 collection took indeed inspiration from Roger Cornman’s The Masque of the Red Death.
A touch of gothic futurism was de riguer at Rick Owens’s.
His warrior women, dark Amazons from another planet, were wrapped in black and dark grey layers of mink fur, padded blanket-like coats and leather jackets or capes with triangular horn appliqués, matched with skirts characterised by multiple folds of jersey and tights with geometric patterns and accessorised with helmet-like hoods and thick gloves.
If there is someone who deserves the cosmic and futuristic award for the next season is definitely Nicolas Ghesquière at Balenciaga.
The neon lit floor may have been lifted from the final scenes of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (see second video uploaded in this post), but the designs reinvented in a fresh and original way many sci-fi inspirations.
There were white and silvery astronaut jackets, Jedi capes in black and white, stewardess pinafore dresses with graphic appliquéd motifs (think a crossover between Emilio Pucci for Braniff for the 2.0 generation and the costumes of the stewardesses in Kubrick’s 2001 and you get an idea), orange jumpers with embossed bubble wrap details, delicate dresses in perforated fabric that imitated lace, experimental silver jumpsuits that unzipped like astronauts’ suits revealing multi-coloured fabrics with prints of posters, magazines and slogans and architectural shoes that seemed to be inspired by interior design and were built out of plywood panels.
Pastel coloured engineered cashmere jumpers characterised by clean lines looked as if they were made with foam and were worn with a belt with a “B X” logo with a stylised spaceship, a sort of perfect symbol for a futuristic airline.
Ghesquière basically showed what fashion should really be about: a continuous research carried out with an eye looking back at a fashion house heritage and a firm gaze to the possibilities offered by new technologies.
A clever mix of modern
culture and every day objects like the protective packaging of cardboard
boxes, industrial and scientific discoveries and couture, combined with innovation and a vivid
imagination made sure that Balenciaga's collection showed an undeniable research into fabric and surface re-elaboration and a clever reinterpretation of some of the most banal space-inspired designs such as the uniform.
The latter was indeed turned into a glamorously modern piece characterised by the sculptural and rigid forms of architecture, a natural choice if you think that André Courrèges was somehow inspired by the work of Le Corbusier and Eero Saarinen.
The designs weren't unwearable, though, as they followed the curves of the body and allowed the movement of limbs, vitally important characteristics on a retail level.
Some of us may be anxious about the future, space discoveries and technology, but that’s definitely not Manish Arora.
His A/W 2010-11 designs with their extended shoulder silhouettes covered in embroideries, sparkling embellishments and cascades of crystals, beads and raffia creating geometric motifs, matched with winged shoes and helmet-like beaded wigs, looked like something out of super robot manga Mazinger Z.
It was also interesting to detect a few references, especially in the silver, gold and white designs, to the decorative motifs and architectures of the Art Deco movements.
One dress featured technicolour prints of retro-futurist buildings that recalled the 1930 bas-relief from the Hotel St George in Brooklyn with its skyscrapers, trains and dirigibles and the cyberpunk architectures in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.
Guess the future couldn't be brighter than this.