The latest reviews are in from Paris, yielding both high praise and snarky critiques. The critics were evenly divided on Dior's gauzy gowns and equestrian get-ups, grappling with their originality and wearability. They adored Celine's precise, complete collection, deeming it beautiful in its simplicity. And they grappled with YSL's unintentionally nunlike show, with its all-black capes and schoolmarm feel. Read the rest of what they had to say.
The critics were divided on the success of Dior's equestrian-inspired fall collection. Some, like Godfrey Deeny of Fashion Wire Daily, loved it. He called it "a brilliant exposition of racy romanticism at its best," and a reminder that Paris is where one can "truly witness design imagination, remarkable finish and production élan." WWD agreed, declaring it "fun, fetishistic and Galliano in top form." Suzy Menkes thought it was one of Galliano's best Dior collections: "sophisticated, sensual and subtle." But others were unimpressed by the equestrian theme, which felt tired and overdone. "A half-dozen different romance novelists could have conceived a juicier plot," huffed Cathy Horyn of the Times. She called the show uninspired, adding that "we've seen most of these clothes before." Style.com echoed her critiques, noting that the abundance of georgette dresses "tipped it at times too far in the direction of the things Galliano does in his own collection." And others doubted the wearability of the clothes in the real world. "Had we walked onto the set of a Victoriana horror film?" asked British Vogue. "[T]he Dior woman lives — and dresses for — a fairytale." While the former may have been meant as a compliment, The Wall Street Journal was less kind. Though it allowed that the "extraordinary" workmanship was obvious, "it’s not as clear who else can wear the clothes that Dior showed today ... We don’t drape ourselves across couches in our powder rooms, and we don’t ride horses in leather coats and silk dresses." In the end, "this amounts to a collection aimed largely at advertising," it concluded.
Watch a slideshow of the Christian Dior collection.
The critics heaped praise on Phoebe Philo's black-and-white, stripped-down collection. "Precise" was the adjective of choice for many. "We got a lesson in chic understatement," assessed Godfrey Deeny of Fashion Wire Daily, touting Celine's "remarkable ride through the recession." British Vogue found the collection "even more desirable" than last season, asserting that the "lack of distraction" put due emphasis on the graphic shapes and clean lines; WWD agreed that "with everything unfettered, there was nothing to distract from Philo’s clear vision." Many lauded the wide range of the collection. "At a stroke, it carried the wholeness, simplicity, and confidence of a definitive look, perfectly judged and attainable," gushed Style.com. Cathy Horyn of the Times was the lone dissenter, suggesting that the clothes "may just be a little too severe" and that the collection as a whole (while terrific in parts) "didn’t feel satisfyingly her." But in the end, most proclaimed the show a stark success. "This was 21st-century fashion for a woman, by a woman, with all the confident modernity and emotional understanding that implies," concluded Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune.
Watch a slideshow of the Celine collection.
Yves St. Laurent
YSL's restrained, severe show puzzled the critics. Though many detected a religious tone in the nunlike habit hats and black capes, designer Stefano Pilati insisted that he meant no such allusion. (The assertion led Style.com to remark that "this collection was sometimes tricky to fathom.") "His designs projected the strictness of a schoolmarm," noted Cathy Horyn of the Times, adding, "[Y]ou expected Sister Mary Margaret to come swooping down the runway and rap you on the knuckles with a ruler." Though it called the show "daring" and "luxurious," British Vogue agreed: "[F]or the most part this show had sexuality thoroughly suppressed ... These were scary headmistresses whose sense of humour was well disguised." Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune called it "mesmerizing ... chic and sleek," but she didn't profess to enjoy herself. "[T]here was something disconcerting about this sobriety sorority, so resolutely dressed in black and with even a bared arm covered with a long glove." Deeny agreed with the sentiment. "While elegant and frequently striking, the collection did seem a big step for YSL, as the founder was arguably more known for his seductive clothing," he concluded. The Wall Street Journal praised Pilati for taking risks, but noted that the uneven hemlines were "eyecatching but not particularly flattering." Like the others, WWD felt he took the grave effect too far, calling it "dated and sexless," and "a nun's story minus Audrey Hepburn." "[T]here’s a line between modest and monastic, which Pilati crossed all too literally," it decided.
Watch a slideshow of the Yves St. Laurent collection.