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Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

The Importance of a Personal Vision

Rochas, Vionnet and Aganovich: stories in colour, shapes and drapes and black and white

13 Марта 2016

Rochas, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Rochas, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

With so many heritage brands fighting for revival, it is encouraging to see that it can be achieved — usually after a couple of struggling years. I am looking at Rochas and Vionnet, who have both finally made it. And also the niche brand Aganovich, which owes a lot to fashion’s past - but achieves it in a contemporary way.

Rochas: lightening up

The carpet with flat pink flowers served as more than a runway at Rochas. It was a message from designer Alessandro Dell’Acqua that lightness and brightness is all. A green velvet dress, a floral shirt with mustard yellow trousers and then those colours developed like flowers, opening into lime and ginger, which brought out the artistic side of the designer — and lightened up the clothes. Day clothes had a palpable presence this season, rather than as an apology before the evening parade started.

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Rochas, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Rochas, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Rochas, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Rochas, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Rochas, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Rochas, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


A pine-green top with a vertical ripple of silk paired with golden yellow trousers made fancy, if elegant, daywear. And tailored or fur coats welcomed the winter in. This is a season where many designers are making un-seasonal collections. It seemed a mistake to take the effective bright socks and platform shoes from day into the night, but perhaps it was a way of saying that Dell’Acqua has given up grand gowns for softer dresses wafting around the calf. The fact that the windows were uncovered to let in rain-washed daylight added to a sense that Dell'Acqua has embraced a more open world.

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Rochas, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Rochas, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Rochas, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Rochas, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


Vionnet: shaped to be draped

It is always a pleasure when a noble name succeeds in resonating once more in the modern world. It usually takes a while — and so it has been with Vionnet. But after experimenting with making classics sporty and, alternatively, following a vague Graeco-Roman path, the clothes for winter 2016 looked just as they should: low-profile glamour. A background of a Paris church instilled a sense of calm, while on stage it seemed as though a battle had had been won in the modernisation of classic shapes and drapes. The starting point was a one-shouldered dress in burnt orange and that first look, close to the body, but not drowning it in drapes, set the tone.

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Vionnet, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Vionnet, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Vionnet, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Vionnet, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


Another way of treating the fluidity of fabric was a crossover drape, creating a gentle V-line at the front. A drape-and-shape technique has to look easy, and even when a brightly coloured ribbon was threaded through, the effect was meant-to-be, rather than alien. I credit Hussein Chalayan, as Vionnet’s team leader, with producing this apparently simple (but in fact exceptional) effect and I would be relieved to see this sophisticated look take over from the strapless or deep-V bodices on the red carpet. The daywear at this house is another story.

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Vionnet, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Vionnet, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Vionnet, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Vionnet, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


I accept that owner Goga Ashkenazy has to think about offering a full wardrobe to customers in the elegant Vionnet stores. But how does a velvet collar jacket with its eight buttons set at an angle speak out for this brand? This is an era when many women are opting for dresses rather than tailoring for work — witness the resurgence of Diane Von Fürstenberg's original 1970s inventions. Light draping for daytime is surely the way to go to make Vionnet relevant before nightfall.

Aganovich: Edwardiana in the new millennium

Three is something both charming and precise about Aganovich and the way the design duo of Nana Aganovich and Brooke Taylor seem contained in their own fashion universe — while being prepared to let the influences of the wider world seep in when it suits them. To describe a man and a woman pencilled elegantly in black and white might sound banal.

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Aganovich, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Aganovich, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Aganovich, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Aganovich, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


But it is the depth of the work — the ruffle pouring down the front of a white blouse or — when the model turned round — the long white shoe cord threaded through black leather trousers. The effect was to make the familiar male/female thing seem romantic. And the same threads — white on black sneakers — brought the sober, almost Victorian dress, into the modern world. Since these designers work only in black and white, texture is their fashion lifeline. It gives a shine to a silken sleeve falling in ruffles by a dress gleaming darkly like coal. You can't help feeling that this duo has one foot in an Edwardian past. Their skill is to make you want to put on your trainers and run there.

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Aganovich, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Aganovich, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Aganovich, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Aganovich, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


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