Monday, February 04, 2013

New World Order

2012 for the fashion world was much like Eastern Europe following the breakdown of the Soviet Union: brands have collapsed, labels were renamed and designers have been abruptly replaced. We have seen one man’s dramatic return from exile and have watched others simply…disappear overnight. Wherever your politics lie, it’s clear that we are in the middle of great change. Not fully caught up yet? Don’t worry- below, we give you our handy guide to the fashion landscape as it stands today.

Fresh Faces
It’s impossible to discuss politics without mentioning the pretty, young things that have taken their places at 3 of fashion’s most celebrated houses: Alexander Wang at Balenciaga, Raf Simons at Dior and Hedi Slimane at Yves Saint Laurent (I’m sorry, make that Saint Laurent Paris). While Simons has been in his new role for almost a year, F/W 2013 marked the first collections by Wang and Slimane in their new positions. All 3 designers are famous, all 3 have had previous commercial success, so why the controversy? It’s a question of appropriateness- Wang has never worked in for a corporately-owned label, Simons has never done couture and Slimane, interestingly enough, has never created womenswear nor has he designed a collection in the last 8 years. It’s too early to say whether they have the allegiance of brand loyalists but it remains safe to say, we’re going to be hearing a lot more about these 3 in the next year.  

Disappearing Act
On January 4th, Nicholas Ghesquière sent out his first and only communication with the outside world: a single Tweet from a newly created Twitter account. Since parting ways with Balenciaga in November of last year Ghesquière has not talked to the media and has not even been photographed in public. Most disappointingly, there has been no talk of his return to fashion. While this is likely the result of a confidentiality agreement and not something more sinister, one has to wonder: what happened at Balenciaga last November?  

The Reinvention Tour
After it was announced that Raf Simons would be taking over at Dior it seemed as though John Galliano was well and truly finished: where else would Galliano’s design sensibility be appreciated if not at Dior? The Galliano- Dior partnership worked so well that many could not imagine one without the other. It turns out that there is a hunger for Galliano, in the United States of all places, at the studio of Oscar de la Renta. While the designer is not officially retiring from his label, many see Galliano’s temporary placement under de la Renta as a trial period for the real thing. Galliano is committed to a mere 3 weeks working for the brand, however, it’s hard to see this not turning into a permanent position.

After many months of rumours and industry gossip, Raf Simons made a messy transition to Dior in order to allow Jil Sanders to come back her namesake label. Unlike a conqueror returning for the spoils, Jil Sanders returned to her label to bring the company back to a profitable level and not to gain from Raf Simons’ success: the company hadn’t actually profited for the entire 7 years that Simons was designing. Because Simons was so respected by the press it was assumed that this translated into profitable sales when in fact they never managed to break even. Hopefully Raf can bring more to the plate while at Dior because we’re certain that Jil Sanders will achieve renewed success at her own label.

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