Derek Lam: 'Femininity and power'
Derek Lam had a name for the message he wanted to get across: Nina Simone.
Fascinated by the “I Put a Spell on You” singer and by the documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?, the designer set out to embed in the streamlined sportswear of his style a soft but strong look for this powerful African-American icon.
Using colours such as camel or powder blue, he also lightened the clothes, literally. So a shirtdress would come in poplin as though an extension of a masculine shirt; or a beige coat with a swinging skirt would turn out to be made of butter-soft leather.
This lightness applied to colors as well — especially the blue of a rain-washed sky; or the fabrics, with a jacket, shirt and trousers all in matching grey poplin.
The clothes were streamlined and easy, but enriched with texture, as with suede in colors such as ginger and olive that gave a hint of the 1970s — but not overpoweringly so.
The idea of such simplicity enriched by fabrics is nothing new. But Lam moved effortlessly from sporty to seductive, creating a slim dress in strips of guipure lace, accompanied by lace-up boots. Or a beige coat was trimmed with a rustic fringe.
The only puzzle was why the soundtrack was flooded with Ravel's “Boléro” rather than the voice of Ms Simone. But overall the show had conviction and suggested that the designer was “Feeling Good”.
Thakoon: Channelling Bohemia
The Thai-American designer Thakoon Panichgul has previously sent out collections inspired by his background and experiences that are moving and personal.
But this summer 2016 collection did not seem to be one of them.
My heart sank when I saw the words “New Bohemia”. Surely not that hippie trail again?
But it was worse than that: it looked like an amateur version of a much-seen theme, starting with bleached denim, moving on to a simple leafy pattern.
Thakoon has a sleek way with print, especially tie-dye offering surface interest. But there were other, incomprehensible outfits such as a pretty towel that looked like airline pyjamas.
Today's retailers and customers are so demanding: Thakoon needs to take a deep breath and decide what he really believes in.