The influence of ballet was a strong trend in the Spring/Summer 2015 season. From the dark tutus at the Undercover show to the influence of l’Après-midi d’un faune in the Rick Owens interpretation of the Ballets Russes, the designers made a strong statement for clothes that took ballet for its force – rather than its prettiness.
Two other houses — Maiyet and Yiqing Yin — used dance to express the emotion and feeling behind their new collections.
Maiyet: Ballet interpreting the past
Sretching, running, holding limbs quite still in the air — the collaboration of Maiyet with ballet choreographer and performer Benjamin Millepied opened yet another fashion window on the dance story of the moment.
The Maiyet mini-movies were created so that designer Kristy Caylor could underscore the influence of graceful shapes on the Spring/Summer 2015 collection.
Millepied’s Passage to Dawn ballet, telling the classical love story of Daphnis and Chloe, was presented in five slow-motion videos. Its link with Maiyet is conceptual: that both try to re-interpret the past in a new way.
For Maiyet, a company that aims to give a modern aesthetic and business edge to artisanal techniques, making the past present requires fashion skills. And like so much else connected to modern style, it requires mixing ideas, materials and even countries of origin.
Stand-out pieces included Peruvian crochet and hand knitting, using ancient skills on Italian wool and cashmere; and Indian hand-embroidery, done with tiny hooks, to create lacy pieces that can then be appliquéd to simple dresses made in America.
Another field of modern imagination is found in Java: batik, with its unique pigmentations made by hand. Maiyet’s ability to give this familiar craftwork an edge, using gilded cinnamon colours as well as the traditional blue and white, is one example of fashion adding an extra layer of interest.
The cut of the batik dresses also transforms them from tribal to global. But it is the fact that Maiyet is setting up Indonesian workshops, as it has done in Varanasi, India, that gives genuine support to local craftspeople to enable them to contribute to worldwide fashion.
YIQING YIN: Sensuous Decay
It was not until I had in my hand Yiqing Yin’s collection of clothes in deliberately fragile fabrics, that I realised the full depth of what she called «sensuous decay».
The idea of hybrid collections, metamorphosis coming from elements of nature, was the designer’s story.
She traces her fascination with tactile fabrics — such as burnt-out jersey, treated with festering milk — down to her antique-dealer parents, who surrounded her with beautiful but old and worn objects.
The clothes, when seen in movement, seemed ethereal and barely there as the dancers leapt, stretched and folded their bodies.
But proving that the designer has a collection ready to sell, a booklet showed photographs of models wearing showed layers of pleats in a waterfall over the body; a light weave of silk and linen made into a malleable trench coat; and a draped jersey jumpsuit that was appropriate both for dance and easy sportswear.