Critics Spellbound at McQueen; Wooed by Valentino’s Filmy Frocks

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Alexander McQueen, Valentino, and Louis Vuitton. Photo: Imaxtree

Alexander McQueen
The critics were uniformly taken by the spectacle of the Alexander McQueen spring show, but they arrived at differing conclusions. Cathy Horyn of the New York Times called it "dazzling" and "extraordinary," and Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune concurred that "[t]he sophistication of the clothes, the intricacy of the workmanship and the ecological swell of the narrative were spellbinding." "It was a show in the true sense of the word and the clothes were spectacular to match," declared British Vogue. And then, of course, there were the shoes to consider, which WWD deemed "Armadillo"-like and Godfrey Deeny of Fashion Wire Daily called "footwear that might eat you." But though the display was awe-inspiring, many grappled with the wearability of the clothes. "These were show pieces," assessed The Wall Street Journal; "These were not quite women, but more like creatures in a world conjured up by the designer," agreed Fashion Week Daily. (However! "the fashion was enchanting enough ... to dismiss any thoughts of retail," FWD later allowed.) Despite the evident innovation, Deeny found the collection "complex and rather overwhelming," adding, "McQueen did not range very far when it came to his organic silhouette." Interestingly, Cathy Horyn argued the opposite, asserting, "[i]t was most definitely a new silhouette." Although Style.com appreciated McQueen's embrace of new computer technologies, it saw "nothing to show [him] breaking out from his set design mold." WWD found the styles to be "insufficient," concluding, "[B]lurry renderings of one species molting into another across molded superhero shapes and a few ruffles converged into a depressing norm."

Watch a slideshow of the Alexander McQueen collection.

Valentino
Valentino put out a youthful, romantic spring collection that many critics hailed as a fresh direction for the label. Godfrey Deeny of Fashion Wire Daily called it an "insurrectionary moment," declaring, "Valentino once stood for class and an opulent display of wealth, but this new Valentino was all about sensitive chic with a mysterious spin." British Vogue felt the designers "determinedly brought the Valentino romance back," and WWD asserted that the collection was "every bit as feminine as Mr. Valentino's vision and possibly more romantic." Several critics noted that the collection was light on daywear ("Valentino showed more cocktail dresses than a pretty young girl could down vodka shots," quipped Menkes), and The Wall Street Journal found the combination of lace, rhinestones, and ruffles "cluttered." But despite the void, the pretty lineup offered "plenty of frippery to choose from," shrugged Fashion Week Daily. All told, "[t]his was a well-timed step forward for the new Valentino duo, one that put the brand at the center of some of Spring's key trends and started to give it a new relevance," concluded Style.com.

Watch a slideshow of the Valentino collection.

Louis Vuitton
The clothing took a backseat to the accessories at the spring Louis Vuitton show, but (surprisingly?) none of the critics seemed to mind. "There was a sense that the clothes did not matter all that much, but the attitude did, as did the bags," noted Godfrey Deeny of Fashion Wire Daily. "Other fashion houses try to set trends in how clothes are worn but chez Louis Vuitton, they’re setting the tone in how to wear a bag," assessed The Wall Street Journal, and Style.com agreed that "all the action was in the super-young accessories." Said accessories were "terrific," and "standout," according to Cathy Horyn, from the feathery kitten heels and modified clogs to the tassels, charms, and foxtails dangling from bags. As for the clothes, many critics found them a bit over-the-top. "[T]he models already looked like they were wearing a wardrobe and a half — at least above the short hemlines," declared Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune. "[I]t was hard to find a definitive label for the sporty, couture-ish, military, metallic, glittery layering going on," mused Style.com, and Fashion Week Daily agreed that "identifying one key idea was as challenging as getting to one's seat on time." "It all felt a little like teenage detritus," offered Deeny. But despite the excess, most reviews were still favorable. British Vogue called it "enviably sassy," "totally original," and "unconventionally, uniquely cool." And though WWD observed that although Jacobs disregarded restraint in favor of "head-to-toe overstatement," in the end, the show "came together in a sort of bohemian utilitarianism, both street smart and happy, with an undercurrent of chic and an overcurrent of gall."

Watch a slideshow of the Louis Vuitton collection.