Fashion for fashion’s sake is one thing; the image in the editorial. But then there’s the clothes we want to live in. The clothes that guard us, that make us stronger, that let us be the person we want to be as we move through the world. “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life,” said Bill Cunningham. The clothes we loved most yesterday were modern day armor, supporting-role clothes, not without image or idea but not just about that, realistically ideal.
Acne Spring 2013 was softer than usual. Emmylou Harris’ cover of “Wrecking Ball”—wear something pretty and white, and we’ll go dancing tonight—inspired romantic prairie skirts and poet blouses. Acne is never direct in its referents though; we in fashionland like to say the brand is directional. One logo tee just said NEW. Making the new is what lead Acne designer Jonny Johansson somehow always manages to do. Even the cut of the pants—highrise with a subtle drop crotch and a slim leg that flared either into a slit or was bound in buckled straps—even those seemed new. How he does it, I’m not sure. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Mary Katrantzou approaches cloth like cardstock, a printmaker extraordinaire. Her intricate, graphic prints aren’t designed 2D as bolts of fabric but created in conjunction with the cut of garment. The results are outstanding. This spring, the postage stamp and the banknote were Katrantzou’s guiding motifs, with perforated edges providing pattern and frame and subject contents that can take you anywhere. Cultural icons and vacation promises decorated the stiff garments. We hope there’s a story behind the arrangements and its not randomized, we’ve come to expect as much from Katrantzou.
Preen is like a really good, old friend. She no longer dominates our everyday, but is go-to reliable. We know more or less what to expect. We welcome subtle evolutions but mostly we don’t want her to change because she’s great. Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi, the designer pair behind Preen, have been making consistently friendly clothes since 1996 and this Spring 2013 we’re happy to see our sophisticated standby in florals, snakeskins, and lace.
Sir Paul Smith is a knighted pride of British menswear. He understands the subtle codes of masculine dressing in his homeland, and has played with them for three decades. “It is as though he possesses some inner equivalent of the Houndsditch Clothes Exchange— not a museum, but a vast, endlessly recombinant jumble sale in which all the artefacts of his nation and culture constantly engage in a mutual exchange of code,” wrote the futurist novelist William Gibson of the designer. Paul Smith is subtle and thoughtful in his code breaking, so much so it could pass unnoticed by the careless clotheshorse. That’s what makes his brand so appealing to the smart women of fashion.