Nicolas Ghesquière is probably the best example of a designer who knows how to efficiently mine the archives of a design house and to combine those references with a new, fresh approach to fashion. He succinctly did it again, with the fall/winter 2008 Balenciaga collection, most visibly moving the brand from the past to the future through the use of fabrics such as velvet and taffeta to leather and latex. Every dress was fantastic and a knockout, in particular the new little black dress -- with an extreme slit up the front. We also found the jackets to be fascinating in a futuristic, industrial mixture of colors with sleeves that flared at the upperarm, then tightened.
This season was less fashion as spectacle, and more fashion as covetable – John Galliano sent out an array of looks that harped back to the fifties in inspiration complete with heavy eye makeup and teased hair, but were forward-thinking in their commercial aspects. Any lady with a high credit card limit would instantly snap up the mink and chinchilla jackets, ostrich heels, and luxe croc bags. The bags were our absolute favorite, cut in generous sizes with a lot less flashing of the logo than usual, a trend that also occurred at Louis Vuitton. We also were big fans of the ladylike suits, bubble dresses, and menswear fabric.
This season Chanel reminded us what couture is all about – pomp and circumstance, the idea of putting on a show in the true spirit of couture, and sparing no expense in the process. This season, Karl Lagerfeld commissioned a carousel to be created. Equipped with icons of Chanel, such as a quilted bag, hat, perfume, and jewelry -- that the models climbed onto after a stroll down the circular runway. The collection itself was as iconic as the three dimensional merry-go-round; the traditional tweed suits were adorned with updated detailing like distressed, worn fabric and patches on the elbows and down the front of the garments. Prim and proper blouse and skirt combos confidently strutted down the runway with a nod to retro styling with bows tied at the neckline. Not much embellishment was visible on the clothing and our eyes were of course drawn to the fabulous, Mary- Jane style footwear and the both textured and white translucent leggings.
For fall we saw a more sophisticated collection of refined, retro-inspired looks from Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton compared to the more free-form looks of last season, as well as from those of Jacobs' eponymous labels. Skyscraper wedges, luxe bags, skinny belts, and statement jewelry pieces were the accessories that left an impression, with nary an LV logo in site. The clothes themselves came in a palette of pale brown, blue, green, and black, that harked back to the eighties, yet retained a modern element in the way they were mixed together. Some remarkable pieces from the collection included ballooning pants, long coats with a cowl neck or hood, and the skirts with exaggerated pleating at the hipline.
We've put together some items that channel the Parisian couture vibe seen in the collections above, at prices not found on the Champs Elysées. Let's start with the accessories – luxe leathers, ranging from croc and ostrich to smooth calfskin were found on shoes, bags, and more in colors will both brighten our wardrobe and be mainstays of everyday dressing.
We'd like to start with some shoes that show off a bit of skin -– snakeskin to be exact. Our first two shoes aren't the real thing, but still look pretty darn good -- the Isaac Mizrahi for Target Riley Almond Toe Pumps in Brown Snake are $14.99, and the Mossimo Drew Point-Toe Pumps in Brown are $12.49 (both at Target). Since we aren't about to invest in the Christian Dior ostrich heels, faux snakeskin is the next, chicest thing. We did find this Elaine Turner Phoebe Ostrich Handbag, $216 at ebags.com, that will give you the same aesthetic as the shoes. We also found the Zecchino Soft Woven Leather Tote in Eggshell Pearl, $127.40 at YesStyle.com, that possesses the shape and luxe details of a leather bag found on the runways in Paris this season.
We also came across some great dresses that will help you get the lace trend (as spotted at Prada) into your closet pronto, for under $50. We found the Jovovich-Hawk for Target Strappy Lace Dress in Ebony, $39.99, the Isaac Mizrahi for Target Rose Lace Trapeze Dress in Ebony, $12.49, the Isaac Mizrahi for Target Lace Overlay Dress in Spanish Brown, $49.99 (all at Target). For a lacey accessory try the Isaac Mizrahi for Target Riley Almond Toe Pumps in Black Lace, $14.99 (also Target). We also thought that this Vera Wang Black Cotton Strapless Crossover Skirt Dress, $270 at Bluefly.com, contained the futuristic element from the Balenciaga show, as well as the high slit detail found on several of the dresses. For a Chanel-inspired look, we wanted something sweet, yet prim and proper -– thus we turned to a bow blouse as our source for the look. This Aqua Sweater with Bow Blouse is $78 at Bloomingdale's.
By now, you hopefully have some new ideas for masterering the art of dressing the runway in everyday life, at everyday prices. Just remember you can always dress the part, without running up your credit card bill!