Art x Fashion: Fashion inspired by history’s most stunning gowns

Fashion and art have always worked hand in hand like a hall of mirrors. When one creates something, the other reflects it. For centuries, art and fashion have danced with one another. Creating memorable images in either fabric or paint form. When I chose to venture into art and fashion in the first “Art x Fashion” article, the comparisons made between the artwork’s and the clothing was based on colour, print, pattern, etc. Now, the comparisons are based on some of the most stunning gowns ever painted throughout history.

Ann Demeulemeester x Thomas Hudson

Ann Demeulemeester fw17 by Sebastien Meurnier | “Portrait of Lady Frances Courtenay, wife of William Courtenay, 1st Viscount Courtenay” by Thomas Hudson | Photo: Vogue Runway

Until recently, black was a coloured reserved for mourning, not elegance. So when it came to finding a gown that matched today’s modern obsessions with the shade, a deep dive into the world of classical art was the only way to go about it. Luckily, I stumbled upon Thomas Hudson‘s beautiful painting “Portrait of Lady Frances Courtenay, wife of William Courtenay, 1st Viscount Courtenay” which showcases its main subject wearing a beautiful black gown. The sheen on the black fabric, white ruffled collar, and sleeves was mirrored by a look that walked the runway at Ann Demeulemeester this season, which featured a black dress and white shirt. The two gowns almost look like doorways. One leading to the past, the other, the future.

Loewe x Giovanni Boldini

Loewe fw17 by Jonathan Anderson | “Madame Charles Max” by Giovanni Boldini

Powder blue, not only was it named the colour of the year last year (along with rose quartz) It has steadily filtered its way through everything from fashion, to home decor, and even car colours. What sets this colour apart from other blues on the lighter spectrum is its softness, its cleanliness, its elegance, and it’s ability to remain an extremely dominant colour without looking juvenile. At Loewe, a stunning powder blue gown came down the runway looking like a clown in the wind. Immediately Giovanni Boldini came to mind. The effortless brush strokes of the blue dress in Boldini’s “Madame Charles Max” look as light as air, mirroring the billowing blue gown on the runway.

 

Calvin Klein x Thomas Cooper Gotch

Calvin Klein fw17 by Raf Simons | The Lady in Gold by Thomas Cooper Gotch

Gold is one of those colours that will always be associated with royalty. It represents the thrown, the sun, wealth, extravagance, and the God-given right to rule a kingdom. In Thomas Coop Gotch‘s painting “The Lady in Gold,” we can see how gold plays a vital role in creating an elegant and domineering atmosphere. Not only is the dress itself a beautiful hue of yellow gold, the entire painting itself is painted in various hues of warm yellow. Giving the woman in the painting a sense of sheer importance and status. At Calvin Klein, A stunning gold coat walked the runway. The gold fabric and cleave PVC overlay looked made the garment look like liquid gold. Twisting and swirling onto itself. Truly a modern take on an old royal favourite.

 

Gucci x Frans Verhas

Gucci fw17 by Alessandro Michele | “The New Bracelet” by Frans Verhas

Call it lilac, periwinkle, or lavender, or aubergine, but no colour can match the unbridled intensity of purple. Which screams “look at me!” regardless of which hue is being shown. In Frans Verhas The New Bracelet,” a soft lilac jumps out from the canvas against a neutral background. It’s clear that the intention of the painting was o put the gown itself into focus while letting the background fade away. And what a perfect colour to do just that. However, at Gucci, this purple gown was one of the only colours that was featured entirely by itself. The dominant colour creates a mesmerising look that needs little more than a lustre in the fabric itself to stand out. Just like Frans Painting, this Gucci dress captures the eye and lets the background fade away.

Chika Kisada x William Ross

Chika Kisada fw17 by Chika Kisada | “Princess Feodora of Hohenlohe-Langenburg” by William Ross

What do you think of when you think of pink? For me, I see candy, extravagance, sugar, delicateness, and power. Now, most people would agree with candy and delicateness, but why power and extravagance? It’s simple, pink is one of the strongest colours on the colour wheel. It gives off an intensity without ever experiencing any muteness in its hues. Whether it’s baby pink or fuschia, pink lights a fire unlike any other colour on the spectrum. In William Ross‘ “Princess Feodora of Hohenlohe-Langenburg,” we can see that even though the pink chosen for the gown is the softest imaginable, it still draws the eye to it. Dominating everything around it in the painting. This is also the case with this stunning pink dress at Chika Kisada aw17. The mix of bubblegum pink and dusty rose creates levels of excitement and interest in the dress. Pulling your eyes towards the harness on the model’s chest, and drawing it all the way down to the train.

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Paris Fashion Week f/w 2017: The Highlights

Paris is widely accepted as the pinnacle of fashion around the world and for good reason. This season seems to be no exception, with designers pulling out all of the stops to present some of their most exciting and iconic collections yet. There were designers who celebrated milestones by walking down memory lane, while others expressed their takes on modern feminism by pulling from the past. There was even a utopia created completely out of fabric that transcended words. With that said, Novella is proud to present the best of Paris Fashion Week!

Photo: Kim Weston Arnold

Dries Van Noten

It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen a runway show sport such an outstanding roster that it sends me into a flurry of nostalgia with every passing model that came into the camera’s view, but that’s exactly what Dries Van Noten did for his 100th show in Paris. Models from all over the globe strutted down the runway in his creations for the show (some whom have walked his first shows back in the early 90s) in a show of support for Dries’ 20-year long breadth of work. Apart from having the pleasure of seeing the likes of Nadja Auermann and Malgosia Bela strut down the runway, fans around the world were treated to a whirlwind of prints that came straight from the brand’s archives. Noten’s paisleys and florals were dusted off and brought back as a celebration of the brand and its iconic designer. One interesting (and completely appropriate for our current times) aspect of the show was the heavy emphasis on menswear. Coats and suits carried a masculine air that made each of the runway veterans shine with a sense of feminine empowerment.

Photo: Vera Wang

Vera Wang

Sometimes a collection comes along that is so underlooked by the those in the fashion industry that it’s almost maddening. Such was the case at Vera Wang‘s Paris show. The New York native presented her collection in Paris last week only using model Mariacarla Boscono as her muse and beautiful historic building as her background. The entirety of the collection seems to be inspired by the queens of the world, with a heavy emphasis on Napoleonic-era military and aristocratic garb. The beauty of Vera‘s understanding of the female form and understated elegance is completely evident here in the draping and gold embellishments that hark back to a time when what you wore showed the world who you are. And Vera’s woman is that the top of the echelon. Some of the most stunning pieces that came from the collection are an Edwardian empire waist gown that cleverly comes paired with wool sleeve military jacket sleeves and a beautiful gold dress with shearling outerwear sleeves that exudes a sexiness that commands attention. However, dresses weren’t the only thing Ms. Wang had in store for her collection. Various different aspects commanded equal praise through the collection. One important piece that comes to mind is a beautiful ensemble featuring a delicate blouse with exaggerated proportions topped off with a shearling capelet that was grounded by a beautifully tailored pair of French legion style military pants.

Photo: Kim Weston Arnold

Jacquemus

The new king of Parisian design has once again outdone himself for his fall 2017 collection. I remember when a young Simon Porte Jacquemus began showing his collections in Paris. His designs seemed extremely easy going and effortless in comparison to the taught (and sometimes pretentious) standards that Paris demands of its designers. However, the idea of a young self-taught designer pushing through the fashion status quo to present original and inspired ideas was quite exhilarating. This season, Simon struck gold again with another solid collection based on the love story between a rich Parisian woman and a gypsy man from the south of France. The collection features Jacquemus’s tell-tale simplicity, which, as always, tells a far more interesting story than something with unnecessary glitz and sparkle. The collection is riddled with effortlessly fashionable “French-isms” like the simple Napoleon hats and the large gold brooches, that all bring us back to the iconic houses on Place Vendôme that put Paris on the fashion map. Apart from the all-around well-designed clothing, Jacquemus still manages to add his signature touches to the collection in the form of outstanding tailoring that plays on the brand’s fun-loving take on tailoring. Some of the best looks in this collection are the simplest in terms of design and styling — a black coat with a built-in peplum waist and suit ensemble that slightly twists at the waist.

Photo: Kim Weston Arnold

Off-White

A lot of people (myself included) are beginning to become weary and tired of seeing Vetements-isms riddle the runway. It seems as if every designer and their mother are pumping out their own alternatives to the elongated sleeve, oversized everything, puffer-jackets, oversized logo everything. The list goes on and on at this point. Now Off-White is one of those brands that sprang up with the insurgence of the streetwear dominated industry, so it came as no surprise when the brand had its fair share of Vetements inspired pieces in its collection. Fortunately, this season came with a wonderful surprise, designer Virgil Abloh created a fantasy world that echoed the modern freshness of the Off-White client while standing far enough away from any of the overused trends of the past two seasons. His collection left a lasting impression by just exhibiting well made and well put together ensembles that stay relevant to French design and European trends. Two exciting trend that was easily spotted on the Off-White runway was Prince-of-Wales check and denim; the two was intricately mixed with one another to create a complementing look that nestled somewhere in between casual elegance and sports chic. In the end, some visible Vetements-isms were still in the collection, like the mini puffer and hoodie, but they were toned down and given relevant and refreshing reimaging that made sense with the collection, rather than fighting it.

Photo: Monica Feudi

 Miu Miu

Miuccia Prada never fails to wow me. While some designers opt for taking the ideas they presented for their main brands and just altering them for their side ventures, Miuccia consistently delivers news and separate ideas for Miu Miu that only ever rarely echo what Prada is doing at the time. She understands that Miu Miu girl is not her Prada girl and both women need clothing that best represents them, not a mishmash of “either or“. This season, Miuccia created a candy coloured whirlwind for Miu Miu’s fall 2017 collection. The collection, which showcased fur-clad twenty-somethings flouncing down the runway in 60s inspired outfits (an ode to the ladies that launched the first wave of feminism maybe?) presented an interesting and relevant idea. “I am a woman, a Miu Miu woman, and I’m here to be seen!” As every woman should be, which is refreshing in a moment where women’s empowerment is being expressed by how masculine she can dress. The best examples of the what Miuccia is trying to express with feminine strength come later in the show when silky mini dresses were decorated with 3-D fuzzy flowers, wild 60s prints created a strong and imposing silhouette, and pastel coloured furs left a soft yet dominating impression on the viewer.

Photo: Yannis Vlamos

Undercover

I remember distinctly ranting and raving about this collection to our Editor-in-Chief Drew Brow whilst sipping a beer at Toronto Men’s Fashion week. The exact words I used were “I don’t think I’ve cried watching a runway show in such a long time! I was fanning my eyes Drew, I was so emotional!” And it’s true. It really has been years since a designer’s collection made me feel emotional enough to feel my eyes water, but that was exactly the case at Undercover this season. Designer Jun Takahashi presented what may be his magnum opus for Undercover at Paris fashion week last week. The collection was a cornucopia of beautiful looks that were meant to represent the residents of a kingdom or utopia built on extravagance and elegance. Now, while other designers have been rushing to pump out trend heavy and streetwear relivant collections it seems that Jun is in no way, shape, or form willing to water down his vision to accommodate the status quo. His collection was a remarkable ode to the days of Alexander McQueen, Christian Lacroix, and John Galliano at Dior. Where designers were more interested in telling a story through a collection rather than creating a collection whose sole purpose is to feed the retail industry’s need for new trends every season. But enough about the technicalities of the collection, because the clothing far outshines any written explanation that can be given to describe it. There were knitted gowns with accordion sleeves, and draped and gather military coats, velvet pie crust bomber jackets, oversized cable-knit dresses, beautifully printed opera coats, and a queen wearing and accordion pleated ball gown skirt that outshone anything that has been presented on the runway in the past few years. To be completely honest with everyone, no words I write can express the beauty of this collection in all of its regal glory. I implore you to watch the runway video of the show to see just exactly what I’m talking about. You can thank me later.

 

LFW – Haizhen Wang prepares us for continual transfer

 

In times when the immigration crises are dramatically growing across the world, designers’ voices become more inspiring than ever. Fashion is a reflection of the times that we live in, and yesterday Haizhen Wang nailed the message.

‘In Transit’ was the name of the AW17 collection that the young designer presented at the Swiss Church during London Fashion Week. The whole presentation embodied a philosophical view on the idea of fashion as a product of transition. Nothing new, but something worth a word, or an image in this case.

The models walking in between cardboard boxes showed slogan badges reading ‘fragile,’ ‘handle with care,’ ‘priority,’ and ‘air eligible.’ A statement of, not only the underrated sense of stability in the fashion industry but also behind human transit.

Ever since he graduated from Central Saint Martins with an MA in Womenswear and established is own brand in 2010, in London, Haizhen Wang has been mastering the art of deconstruction in fashion design. Raw edges and gender fluidity – or ‘masculine femininity’ in his words – are the essence of his work.

Oversized peplum corsets wrapped the waistlines with extra long seat belts, as we would tie up our luggage. Another hint to the idea of transition that reflects the talent of Haizhen Wang as a designer, and as a communicator.

The key elements of his AW17 collection: warm earth tones such as dark blues, red, black, ochre and khaki, and flat double wools as the star fabric. The cut? Sharp tailored pieces to dress an incredibly self-confident woman, almost, as strong as Haizhen’s voice.

Photography courtesy of Haizhen Wang

Four collections that Highlighted Stockholm fashion week

When we look for a city that encompasses contemporary cool on a global scale, most people tend to point straight to Stockholm, Sweden. Sweden has always been on the cusp of contemporary design, with designers interpreting global trends through a distinct nordic point of view. This season, Stockholm delivered on its promise of beautifully clean and luxurious clothing, with a modern Swedish twist.

Photo: Fashion Week Stockholm

Whyred

Roland Hjorth presented Whyred’s women’s collection alongside the brand’s menswear designer Jonas Bladmo last week, to great success. The collection, which featured 70’s inspired men’s and women’s clothing, focused heavily on many of last season’s biggest trends like gingham check, shirting, and androgynous design.

For their fall 2017 collection, designers Roland and Jonas infused their collection with heavy 70’s scholar influences mixed with bohemian ease and splashes of casual wear. The collection hits the mark on what’s happening right now around the world in fashion, with wisps of Prada, Jacquemus, Aalto, Monse, and Gucci all coming together neatly in one contemporary package. What sets Whyred’s collection apart from many modern designers comes down to the ease of wear; something that comes naturally to the Swede’s. The brilliantly smart mix of formal wear and casual wear creates a mixed matched collection that fits anyone’s personal sense of style.

Highlights from the Whyred collection include a stunning red herringbone dress worn over a wide shouldered white shirt, a beautiful sand coloured coat worn over a navy slack and white shirt, and a gorgeous Prince of Wales plaid coat paired with matching pants and a bright orange fur trim.

Fashion Week Stockholm

Stylein

In today’s day in age, it can sometimes be hard to translate ultra-feminine design with contemporary style trends. That was definitely not the case at Stylein, which managed to fuse the beauty of classic feminine silhouettes with sharp and architectural minimalist design. The collection features an outstanding palette of neutrals that work perfectly together. The gowns are especially eye-catching. Creating a fluidity that can sometimes be hard to capture in clothing, however, the knitwear dresses do a perfect job of capturing the female form through the stretch and movement of the fabric. But the collection doesn’t just rely on the female body to invoke a sense of modern and powerful sexuality. It also showcases the powerful female form with suiting and menswear inspired outerwear. One of the great defining factors of this collection is the close resemblance to many of the trends that walked the runway during the 90’s, with cool and warm neutrals working a perfect mix of retro simplicity and modern elegance.

Highlights of the show were a stone grey knitted dress, a black knitted gown, a beautiful burnt orange wrapped blazer and black leather skirt.

Fashion Week Stockholm

Ida Sjostedt

Fairytale fantasies have been very popular this season, with Dior, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, and dozens more reinterpreting and creating their own takes on fairy tales. At Ida Sjostedt, the tulle and chiffon came out in full effect. Gorgeous embroidered gowns harked back to the days of princesses and magic. But there was another trick up the designer’s sleeve this season. Sjostedt must have known that simply creating a princess like collection wouldn’t be enough to set her apart from the pack. After having started with a gorgeous array of voluminous gowns and off-white formal wear, she quickly began sending models out in a darling mix of athleisure and ball gown mixes that work perfectly together.

After having already shaken up the collection, Ida does it again by sending out outfits comprised of soft, crushed velvet in shades of gunmetal and stone grey. Once the velvet had made its mark, it was time for the fairy tale to turn to the dark side. Black lace outfits began to dominate the runway, giving the collection a more grounded and serious feel, but never mature or matronly. After the entire spectacle had gone underway, Ida finally finishes off her collection with gorgeous pure white lace ensembles that bring the collection back to its whimsical roots.

Standout pieces in the collection are hard to choose because of how perfectly consistent the collection is. However, the most eye-catching pieces would have to be the white lace and tulle two-piece ensemble that closed the show, a tulle skirt worn with a lurex style hoodie, and a beautifully simple spaghetti strap maxi dress in velvet.

Fashion Week Stockholm

Velour by Nostalgi

Street style has undoubtedly become one of the biggest influences in the fashion industry and Swedish designers seem to be noticing as well. At Velour by Nostalgi, the audience was treated to a controlled and refined take on street style. All the staples were there. Everything from puffer vests and dad jeans to slouchy knits, logo, and shirting all had their moments to shine on the runway. But even as the collection seemed riddled with street style influences, it never ventured into tacky territory. Rather than rely completely on gimmicks, as many contemporary “urban” brands do, Velour’s collection was deeply rooted in good design.

Like all good Swedish design, the biggest asset of Velour by Nostalgi was its’ ease of wear. With so many brands adding ridiculous lengths and volume to their casual wear, it’s refreshing to see a brand create a collection that is truly wearable for the everyday fashion aficionado.

Highlights during Velour by Nostalgi are a simple crew neck jumper in grey worn tucked into a light stone washed jean, a wonderfully 80’s inspired striped shirt paired with a white tank top, a bandana with a pair of black trouser, and a relaxed blush coloured jumper worn tucked into a black trouser and topped off with a black puffer vest.

Milan Men’s Fashion week recap

Milan Menswear has just wrapped up and the Italian fashion capital has once again taught the fashion world what stylish menswear truly is. Unlike its contemporary fashion capital counterparts, Milan has a long history of adding a Mediterranean freshness and zest to men’s fashion that really isn’t seen anywhere else in the world. However, adding hints of bright Mediterranean colour to many collections doesn’t mean the clothing comes off as childish or irreverent. Rather, the collections remain as stylish and elegant as they always have in Milan.

Now, colour isn’t the only highlight one should expect from Milan fashion week. Recently, designers in Milan have opted to recreate what a dapper European man should look like. The cuts are still rather traditional, yet they carry a sense of youth that isn’t traditionally associated with the iconic Milan design houses. With that said, Novella has highlighted some of the most inspiring and all around picture perfect collections at Milan menswear week 2017.

Prada

Photos: Moncia Feudi

Starting off the list is Miuccia Prada and her astounding take on the 1970s university “it” crowd fashion, Models stormed the runway in a sea of heavy jewel tone pieces in colours ranging from oxblood to turquoise. These simple, yet direct nods to the 1970s conjured up images of must have mustard and maroon items which swept the fashion industry at the time.

Another vintage staple showcased heavily throughout the show was corduroy, which Miuccia tirelessly splashed throughout the collection. Almost every look in the collection incorporated the use of corduroy in some way shape or form. Whether it was pants or even a jacket, Miuccia managed to take one of the most hated materials in the world and make it a fashion must have for the upcoming fall season. Which truly is a feat in and of itself.

Ports 1961

Photos: Vogue Runway

When Ports debuted their latest collection, it was almost too surreal to be taken all in. Here was a house who was never really associated with following trends or releasing a collection that perfectly mirrors what is going on in today’s fashion world.

In terms of the collection, all the current staples are there; he slight slouchiness of androgynous menswear; the bold colour choices; the shirting. All of the ingredients to make a wonderful menswear label are there. The true winners of the collection have to be the half-in-half-out striped shirts that we’ve been seeing everywhere during men’s and women’s fashion weeks, as well as the brightly coloured puffer jackets that have been seen everywhere from Balenciaga to Raf Simons. All in all, it’s lovely to see an iconic house like Ports 1961 embracing the changes in menswear and taking the time to understand what a newer clientele is looking for in a brand, while still maintaining a sense of European class.

Marni

Photos: Kim Weston Arnold

Fall 2o17 is the first collection to debut at Marni since Consuelo sadly took her final bow at last season’s iconic womenswear show. Now, most would assume the worst. After many years of watching a designer steer a fashion house through the decades, most would be hesitant to embrace whoever is hired to fill the shoes of the original designer. Fortunately, that isn’t the case at Marni. New creative head Francesco Risso has managed to create a collection that translates Marni’s offbeat spunkiness into something inarguably his, while still managing to keep the collection in quintessential Marni territory.

Like Prada, Marni‘s collection conjures up visions of 70’s and 80’s twentysomething’s that walk around oozing popularity. The wonderfully campy prints paired with the bold colour choices and crisp whites really create a sense of modern freshness, a sense of not taking oneself very serious and dressing how you’d like, rather than dressing for those around you. The real focal points of the collection must be the wonderfully belted pantsuits that adds a slight safari touch to a collection, yet still keeps the collection grounded in its central theme.

Marcelo Burlon County of Milan

Photos: Luca Tombolini

It’s always refreshing to see a rarely mentioned brand come out of the blue and present a collection that is truly one of the best for its season. This was the case for Marcelo Burlon County of Milan‘s fw 17 collection, which featured its menswear collection alongside its womenswear pre-fall collection. But that wasn’t what set the collection apart from the best at Milan this season. It seems as if designer Marcelo Burlon was aiming to express his take on the new normal in fashion. Everywhere you looked it seemed as if the lines between menswear and womenswear were crossed. Nothing seemed entirely feminine and nothing seemed entirely masculine. Both his male and female models seemed to melt into one another in a sea of red, black, and olive green cowboy inspired looks.

However, the beauty of this collection doesn’t end with its androgynous influences. The true glue that holds this collection together is the sheer mastery of cut and trend. Not only does Marcelo showcase the ever growing and important oversized trend in his collection, he manages to mesh it together with crisp pinstriped suiting, pajama style two pieces, and clear streetwear influences that have become so successful in recent years.

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