Category Archives: ResortWear

Resort 2017: Zuhair Murad

As always, we finish our coverage of Resort with Zuhair Murad, the Lebanese designer who specialized in slinky evening gowns, no matter what the season. This is a man for whom the word “daywear” has little meaning–his “causal” looks are so embellished and appliqued, there’s never anything causal about them. His clients are the stars who wear sequins to the grocery store, and let the paparazzi know when they’re heading to Starbucks ahead of time. Murad knows it, and functions accordingly.

The fact is, some evening gown designers never really learn how to make day wear. it’s not in their wheelhouse, it’s not what they’re interested in. I like Murad because he doesn’t give a good goddamn what you think day wear is supposed to be–he’s going to make it as over the top as he wants, because his clients will buy it.

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With that in mind , it was a little surprising to see that the faux hippie festival look seemed to have infiltrated Murad’s collection this season. There were even faux jean leggings and pieces that looked like they might have accidentally be categorized as “knitwear.” (They were Chantilly lace, of course.) But not to fear–if Murad was going to actually make a sweatshirt, it wasn’t just going to be any old sweatshirt, but the kind that let everyone know about the rocks that you’ve got while still pretending like you were ever from the block.

Murad claimed he was inspired by David Hamilton’s hippie ingenue photographs from the 1970s, and one could see the correlation–up to a point. After a while Murad just wandered off on his own evening gown flights of fancy, and the only thing tying the collection together was a vague sense of not exactly casual luxury.

The full collection is below.

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Resort 2017: Hervé Léger by Max Azria

Ah yes, our regularly scheduled delivery of bandage dresses from Hervé Léger by Max Azria. The Azrias created this line for the sole purpose of giving themselves a dedicated line for the bandage dress after it took off and put them on the map. The problem is, of course, that the line is never anything but.

The Azrias have tried finding new permutations of the bandage dress in recent years–sometimes more successfully than others. But those experimental phases of “What can we do not to bore the audience” usually come when there is a live audience–the runway presentations. The truth is, the rest of the time, there’s no need to fiddle with what works.

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To the fashionista looking for the new, the different, the dramatic the “never seen that before,” the Hervé Léger lines for Pre-Fall and Resort are not here for your entertainment. These are the line’s time to go commercial, and let’s face it–every year a new group of  wannabe starlets turn 18, 19, 20 and 21, and every year they go out looking for the dresses that are going to show them off in these prime years in clubs and street appearances and red carpets. Bandage dresses are not old hat for them, because at 18, nothing really is, no matter how jaded they act.

Add to that the fact that every year there are those like Jennifer Lopez hitting 40, or 45 or 50, and desperate to continue to compete and show those young’uns how it’s done. When you see that there are costumers sitting at both ends of the red carpet spectrum, suddenly the bandage dress line is not only timeless, for certain segments of the audience, it will always be timely.

Still, Lubov Azria doesn’t want to bore herself while designing them either. So there are always new flares here and there, a bit of variation on the theme, even if the theme itself is “keep the company solvent.”

Full collection below.

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Resort 2017: BCBG Max Azria

I was already over the entire concept of athleisure wear even before project Runway made it their business this spring to make the concept a household word. The entire concept is one that’s annoying as it is–yoga pants for the people who wouldn’t know what yoga was if it came up to them and sun salutationed them in the face. Exercise clothes for the person who would like you to think they are so rich they exercise in something that costs this much.

So when I saw the term ahead of seeing the BCBG Max Azria line, I sighed heavily. The non-bandage dress part of the Azria empire, their looks are usually comfortable and flowy, so the concept probably lent itself to their line naturally. But really–yoga pants for resort?

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Not quite–after all, Lubov Azria would not be so obvious. Instead it was a line that looked as if it would not be out of place with their Pre-Fall, or the Resort line from last year. The main difference was the fabric choices, which relied on stretchy, sporty fabrics–though not exclusively on that front either. The basic twill cottons mixed with the sportier lyrcas actually made for an interesting contrast.

There were some places where things got ultra literal. For example, where before she would have designed a halter top as the separate in the three-piece ensemble, now there was an exposed sports bra instead. There was also the trouble of the harnesses. Where most designers have let them trend go quietly into that good night and forgotten about them, they remain a house staple in both the Azria collections, and the mix of the bound look made at times from fabrics whose point is to be ultra comfortable felt like someone was very confused about what they wanted out of life. You know, I want to look like a bondage girl–but comfy.

Still, when it comes to athleisure wear, at least it was interesting. The full collection is below.

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Resort 2017: Alexander McQueen

It took a long time for Sarah Burton to come into her own over at Alexander McQueen. That’s not surprising, considering the details of her ascent, where she was basically trust into the spotlight after the iconic designer–whose name still adorns the brand–committed suicide nearly a decade ago.  Even if McQueen had not single-handedly helped the industry pull out of its self referential naval gazery minimalist funk and into the world of drama, ready made for the Internet Age, the circumstances of his passing would have pressured anyone to design in his footsteps instead of their own.

But time heals all wounds, and if there’s one thing McQueen would have understood, it was the need for change. Burton’s has happened gradually, beginning when she returned from maternity leave a few years back. There’s been a softening of the over all vision, and a prettiness to it that is all her own.

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Burton, and the McQueen line have never settled for the expected when it comes to these in-between collections of Resort and Pre-Fall. Even before the highest end of the Fashion World began to consider that resort might be a third chance for runway shows, this was a line that used it as the chance to experiment. There’s also almost always a through line to what one sees on the runway, in the off-season and then in the couture line that follows, as Burton has a tendency to work through a theme for months at a time.

So when thirty plus looks showed up, each one as intricate and interesting as a couture piece, it was not that off brand a choice. Taking leather that has been worked down to a butter softness so that it behaves like fabric, crafting flowers out of it and then hand painting them is exactly the sort of fine detail work that one usually sees in couture creations–and here Burton puts them out for Resort. This is their experimental spot, you see, which is why the collection not only contained those, but also knitwear so fine it might pass for lace, or at least very colorful evening wear.

The entire collection, and some well deserved close-ups, are below for your inspection.

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Resort 2017: Thom Browne

Thom Browne is known for several hallmarks that define his work. The first is the basics–his use of menswear fabrics for women’s wear. one would not think this supremely radical on its face, and yet, when one sees his collection, the fact that he uses fabrics that our eyes are trained to see as masculine draws a distinction between his looks and everyone else’s every time.

The second is his deconstructionist vein that leads him to put on over the top, surrealist looking shows during runways seasons. Even when it’s not runway season, there’s always a penchant for the mad, the bizarre, the unexpected. Browne has a showman’s flair for presentation, and he knows that the fashion world is always looking for something to set a collection apart.

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The final hallmark is one that’s only begun recently, after Michelle Obama wore a few of his pieces at high-profile events. As Browne’s name has risen in value, and young ladies begin wearing his outfits to red carpet events, it’s become a thing to have them show up as a phalanx of matching looks. One does not find one young lady at the Met Gala wearing Thom Browne. One finds them in groups, anywhere between four and seven, and all posing together, as if they are afraid if they wear such over the top fashion alone they will stand out too much.

Browne seems to have noticed this trend, as his resort collection photos find that many of them have entire bevvies of models crammed into them. It’s not unusual for photographed presentations such as these to feature two or even three models, sometimes singly, something alone. Some photo presentations will have two models per photo, so that it may be 24 photos, but it’s 48 looks. But Browne has taken that to extremes here, with his photos sometimes containing five or six crowded together. After all, if we’re all insane together no one can tell us we’re mad, can they?
The full collection of fun is below.

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Resort 2017: Giambattista Valli

Giambattista Valli has two lines that he does Resort collections for. His second one, the diminutive Giamba, is supposed to be aimed towards a more middlebrow and younger set clientele. For that, his stated inspiration was naturally something the young people are into: snapchat.

His main line though, the eponymous Giambattista Valli is his real baby, as well as the one that presents at Couture week twice a year. Famous for dresses like Rihanna’s Shower Pouf , these are his upper crust looks, and his Resort line is no exception. These are 50+ looks overlayed with stunning detail, heavy floral appliques and day wear that only the most expensive lady who lunches would find in her closet.

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Still, it is resort, which means that the shower poufs and the over the top evening wear was almost entirely absent. Not that these looks wouldn’t easily do in a pinch for most evening occasions, as they are already highly expensive and tailored to a “T” looks. The difference for Valli is that resortwear includes useful items, like pant suits, the type of which Hillary Clinton would not even be able to pull off. (They clearly have someone more like Mrs. Amal Clooney in mind.) The dress hems are higher, the cut is more casual. But the fabrics are just as insanely luxe as a normal Spring or Fall runways line, and in line wit the same sort of thing one would expect as the downscale version of his handmade couture designs.

But when a fabric is that high-end, it doesn’t really matter how casual the cut is. It’s the difference between Kate Middleton wearing something that looks casual, and something that looks middle class. Someone like Middleton, who along with hubby Bill, attempt to emulate a normal couple understands she has to eschew in her day-to-day looks, and wear when she’s being photographed wandering around India looking Princess-like. The rest of us can only sigh over them as dreams we’ll never have.

The full collection is below.

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Resort 2017: Alice + Olivia

Stacey Bendet of Alice + Olivia took homage to art as an inspiration for the Resort collection this year and did some good with it for charity. It was clear from the get go that her inspiration came from the neo-expressionist art world, and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s iconic imagery from the late 70s and early 1980s, before he joined the 27 Club  in 1988 from an overdose of heroin.

But Bendet didn’t just decide to be inspired by the works of art from an artist who self destructed bat the height of his career. She instead chose to create this collection as a collaborative effort with the Basquiat estate, and half of all proceeds will go towards benefiting CFDA initiatives that support young artists in the fashion world.

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Even if this wasn’t a collection with both something of a message, and a heart, not to mention a charity benefit aspect, Bendet has also once again managed to make a collection of stand out pieces that also happen to be commercially viable products.

Balancing art and commerce is always the name of the game when it comes to the fashion world. When you start adding extra layers, like homages to artists, or worlds like “collaboration,” or charitable giving, it has a tendency to work like a thumb on the scale, forcing the collection to either go super commercial to the point of unremarkable, in the hopes of raising the most money they can, or it winds up super over the top conceptual. Perhaps not quite on the level of Viktor&Rolf making models wearing actual deconstructed paintings, complete with frames, but certainly closer to that end of the scale. That This would up being both a highly fashionable line, but also one with workhorse pieces that could easily mix and match with the rest of one’s closet for the season might just be the best homage to Basquiat there is.

The full collection is below.

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