In the French arena of Couture talent, it’s hard to refrain from adopting the divided opinion that people seem to have towards statement gowns. Those who know how to expertly craft these garments are rare indeed, but those who err on the side of sophistication will find solace in creative director Kim Jones’ subtle aesthetic. Perhaps fashion’s commercial maelstrom is producing one hopeful side effect for designers, who, after years of creating runway statements for the sake of it, are being forced to make a hard assessment of what they’re best at, their identity, and creative practice.
That’s the case with Jones, who chose to concentrate on 40 lace-like dresses for Spring, end of story. “This season, I wanted to concentrate on the techniques and craft of couture, with the lightness, fluidity and attitude of today,” Jones reports in the collection notes. “It’s a celebration of the ateliers and the craftspeople who realise these garments, the intense work and commitment to each piece that exists for both maker and wearer, and how the intimate traditions of the couture are both living and breathing.”
As for the collection itself, the show consisted of one basic staple—a long, body-moulding lingerie template that appeared as a dress, as a skirt, or a fluid topper—with a little (though not much) variety added by intensely-embroidered, invisible fabrics that kept structure. Case in point: lace and hand-pleating motifs, coupled with an elevation of art-house knits, but in a more wearable way. These were offset by Bruce Gilbert’s “Work For >Do You Me? I Did< (3)” which laid out a thumpy soundtrack, while expertly placed lines and folds were strategically positioned to “emphasise a sense of underwear becoming eveningwear.” The result: comfort, elegance and a rarefied consciousness of craft, which helped Jones to pose the complexity of couture against a backdrop of ease with divine grace. Seen on a rail, his clothes radiate hyper-feminine wearability; but within the context of a show, it’s trickier to communicate. There were, of course, few clunkers in the mix, but they count as a sign of progress. Couturiers need to make mistakes in order to learn, and it’s encouraging to see Jones dare to move forward.