When was the last time the critics were so overjoyed with a season they could hardly stand it? Certainly not the last round of shows in New York, where the white after white looks had a lot of showgoers feeling like they may as well be in the office watching a printer with no ink cartridge spit out blank sheets. Milan was a surprisingly pleasurable experience, while Paris delivered some hits, some misses. Finally fashion people have some relief in the spring 2011 couture season, which just concluded in Paris. Cathy Horyn, the Times critic who can hardly critique without being called mean, was so excited about Armani Privé, she bothered to go backstage — which, with the crowd, might have been about as fun as walking through nineteen inches of unplowed snow and seeing a couple celebrities trudging through with you along the way — to pat Giorgio on the back.
Now, some of Mr. Armani’s creations looked straight out of the Saturday-morning TV shows of the ’60s, and the plastic saucer hats were dippy, but I give Mr. Armani credit for working with those glistening fabrics, for the sense of control over the shapes, even if the futuristic vision was a little hackneyed. He has been on this particular jag for a few seasons, and he might have received encouragement from Lady Gaga, a client. If making clothes with spherical necklines and mirrored surfaces gives him something other than beige wool crepe to focus on, I’m all for it.
She was upbeat if similarly ambivalent about John Galliano's collection for Dior, inspired by illustrator René Gruau.
It’s true that Mr. Galliano should put down the books, but trust me when I say that most of the suits and dresses in this collection would look gorgeous on someone. You have to ignore the ’50s makeup. The little airy jackets with pencil or full skirts are stunning, as were Lido feather numbers, and you won’t find colors like that anywhere nowadays.
Her praise for Jean Paul Gaultier is less mixed:
Jean Paul Gaultier, on Wednesday, was spectacular — easily his most satisfying show in years.
One of the great things about Horyn, who is aware of this rare effusion of positivity, is that her rosiest reviews usually come with a thorn or two.
The couture shows have been pretty wonderful this season. Nobody is crabbing about them being out of touch, maybe because a lot of editors just finished preseason collections and are bored to death.