Pacific Jean Paul Gaultier – Spring/Summer 2012

There is a natural confidence and willingness to take risks that comes with the experience and success of couturier.  A daring to channel the dark recesses of one’s right brain to create unique yet wearable new pieces using a mix of materials, patterns, and prints that nobody’s ever dreamed of.  The French Breton-clad Fashion Czar had just recently kicked-off his international five-city retrospective Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier tour and was back in Paris to present his bold new collection on Day 2 of Paris Fashion Week.

In unconventionally modest Gaultier fashion, a modest Spring/Summer 2012 production featured an eclectic mix of tailored looks inspired by the Pacific West Coast, Southern French Riviera, and Scotland Highlands.  Californian beach prints found in a matching jacket, dress shirt and trouser ensemble brought back memories of 1980s Ocean Pacific.  Kitschy Hawaiian floral prints ripped from tourist T-shirts were reworked into dress shirts, trousers, and sports jackets.  Tailored plaids, window-plane checks, houndstooth and printed tweeds looked playful when mixed with jean jackets, floral shirts, and sneakers.  The styling saw sports jackets tucked into trousers, tuxedo pants replaced with shorts, and relaxed pinstriped suits married up with leather biker jackets and plimsolls.

An eruption of creativity and styling brilliance, SS12 Gaultier is about deconstructing sophisticated tailoring and having some fun with it.  Great finale featuring classic Gaultier Breton Tees and gingham swimwear.  Save me one of those doiley-cut dress shirts please.

Jean Paul Gaultier SS12

DSquared2’s European Vacation – Spring/Summer 2012

Not ones to rest on their laurels, Dean and Dan Caten do Canada proud by always trying to design and produce a collection bigger and better than the one before it.  Sounds cliché I know, but mission accomplished this week as the twin brother duo put on an over-the-top spectacle of a fashion show in Milan (see video above, click here for part two).  The Spring/Summer 2012 Collection is a brilliantly designed revolving carousel of European looks – literally.  The American tourist and their travel itinerary inspired a collection that found their muse spending summer vacation in Europe.  Starting with a trek through the mountains and fjords of Scandinavia, possibly making some extra money on a fishing trawler before paying their way through the rest of their vacation through the sun-drenched beaches of Mykonos, those scenic romantic nights of Florence, and posh party streets of central London.

Aside from the first outfit with the Breton sweater (first photo below), the black fisherman’s sweater and cool new specs that looked vaguely familiar (first & second photo below), most of the Norwegian looks were lost on me.  Our spring and summer isn’t the warmest here in Canada, but unless you’re spending them in Nunavut, there certainly is no need for the work gloves, boots, and double socks.  I’m guessing that the same holds true for Scandinavia.  I generally didn’t like the Scandinavian looks which could have passed for a DSquared2 capsule collection for Old Navy.

“Did you say dance?”  Queue up the sirtaki from Zorba The Greek, a turn on the carousel to reveal some bottle-popping boys chilling on Super-Paradise to the summer 2010 smash hit by Nickos Ganos, Last Summer.  Campy Mykonos-inspired bikinis, trunks, and mesh tanks on freshly waxed bodies booted the fashion show into second gear.  The swimwear and accessories were impressive, especially the sunglasses, parrot-printed white swim trunks, and sandals.  Seriously though guys, time to retire the baseball/trucker caps.

Another turn of the carousel and the scene shifted to a romantic evening in Firenze.  Here we find some of the best pieces of the collection.  Suede moccasins, yellow pants, double-breasted white sports jackets, and dressy leather sandals – this collection was made for me.  As the stage transformed itself into a London loft, DSquared2 demonstrated a selection of incredible looks that picked up where their SS11 collection left off.  Amazing pieces for a day or night out on in any European town or anywhere really.  This collection proved that for a bunch of Canadians, we do a great job keeping up with the Italians in their own backyard no less.  Not bad eh?

Dsquared2 SS12

Versace Goes “Versace” – Spring/Summer 2012

Seventeenth century Baroque architecture and art was used by the Roman Empire to impress visitors by expressing triumphant power and control.  The Versace name has always lived and breathed Baroque.  While many of the fashion houses are muting or getting rid of colour altogether for next spring/summer, Donatella has cranked up the volume.  Sure, there are plenty of timid grey and beige suits, but even they have nuances of Baroque in the detailing.  SS12 is about classic, raw, in-your-face Versace.  Highlights of the collection included Glen plaid suits, a canary yellow suit (featured in several of the Milan collections), the footwear including the gladiator sandals, the buckled sports jackets/suits, an elaborately studded black leather jacket, the swimsuits, and definitely those gorgeous terrycloth robes.  Versace in all its glory.  A return to vibrant intrepid colours, audacious zebra prints, buckles, shackles, and gold studs –  a return to 1980s Miami.

Versace SS12

Canali Channels India – Spring/Summer 2012

Anna Dello Russo had once told me that she found menswear boring.  So much so, that she couldn’t bring herself to comment on the subject.  I sincerely hope that she was in Milan these past few days because the collections have invigorated men’s fashion and can be categorized as many things, but boring isn’t one of them.

In mid-January, Ermenegildo Zegna presented us with their engaging Fall/Winter 2011 Collection.  A Far Eastern inspired collection, it was designed to entice the growing Asian market.  By tapping into some of China’s historical designs and fusing them with traditional Italian tailoring, Zegna created one of the most astounding fall/winter collections of Milan Fashion Week.  Six months later, history has repeated itself, but this time it’s Canali who has channeled the rich historical fashion design influences of another growing market – South Asia.

Canali’s runway, a vast white pishtaq leading to an arched Mughal iwan was a clear reproduction of the entrance to Taj Mahal.  Striking handsome model after model poured out in Indian inspired suits, foulard, Nehru collared shirts, reworked slippers, and even a Ganesh-print tote.  The subdued pastels calmed the senses during the first part of the show which culminated in a climactic barrage of vibrant jewel-coloured suits and embellished tuxedos.

Canali’s SS12 collection provides a healthy mix of South Asian looks that run the gamut from conservative contemporary to abstract traditional.  Subtle South Asian detailing is found in the slim fitting ensembles.  Tailored two-piece suits layered over white T-shirts, silk scarves, and light cardigans for the conventional.  More traditional Indian looks featuring reinterpreted kurtis, churidars, and Indian slipper ready for the daring.

I’ve never been to India, but there are many beautiful pieces in this collection that I would definitely wear.  Definitely one of the top three collections to come out of Milan this Fashion Week.

Canali SS12

Gucci’s Restraint – Spring/Summer 2012

Frida Giannini has temporarily abandoned the signature Italian flamboyance and opulence of recent Gucci Men’s Collections veering into a decidedly more British contemporary-meets-classics sartorial looks for Spring/Summer 2012.  An exclusive sneak peek with GQ the day before the collection revealed that, “[This is a] new sartorial take on spring/summer for the Gucci man: a slim, precise silhouette, high-tech workmanship, and a playful attitude.”  Are we Italians or are we Germans?

The colours, just as restrained as the designs were predominately black-and-white mixed with creams and subtle greys.  A palette devoid of any real colour save a dazzling motel red trench and beautiful plum suit and leather jacket.  The focus of the SS12 collection, definitely in the patterned fabrics.  Houndstooth, Glen plaid, and windowpane checks all used in the tailored suits, separates, and casual collarless dress shirts.  Black horse bit loafers and black leather white-soled lace-ups reign supreme for SS12.  A marked departure from the tan and powder blue suedes loafers on camels and creams of SS11 and decidedly more Michael Caine circa Get Carter.

For Giannini, the devil is once again in the details.  Trousers with reinforced inner knees (riding pants?) and snaps or laces with contrast piping at the ankles looked incredible.  The subtlety of the thin leather necklaces and oversized boxy sunglasses with their gradient lenses –  a nice touch.  Best of show had to go to the men’s leather bags and briefcases which appear to be as luxurious as they are timeless.  A great collection and an interesting departure for Gucci, but please Frida for next season – bring the back the glam.             

Gucci SS12

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