WWWT?: Is It Avant Garde or a Big Old Mess?

July 12, 2011

Recently, while waiting for a flight at Reagan, I watched a young girl struggle with the June edition of Vogue. She grimaced as she thumbed through it, as though she were reading hieroglyphics or Joyce’s “Ulysses.” After a few minutes, she pointed to a page, disgusted, and asked her mother, “Who would wear that?”

That’s my litmus test, too. I asked that question when reviewing photos from Fall Couture Fashion Week in Paris, which ended this past Thursday. If I can’t answer with a name other than Lady Gaga or Daphne Guinness, the eccentric stout heiress, the collection has failed to serve its ultimate purpose: to be wearable.

Some designers forget that. What sounds like a great idea in the studio —”Let’s cover the model in beaver pelts and balloons!”— will look ridiculous on a life form that may need to blow her nose or hail a cab.

Successful couture straddles the line between art and real life. The Valentino house showed a collection of silk bows and panne velvet that elevated woman to masterpiece.

But Christian Dior (sans ex-chief designer John Galliano), presented a circus-inspired collection, reflecting a life no woman (even Gaga) should ever live.

Photo courtesy Getty Images

Katherine Boyle reports on arts, museums and culture for the Style section.
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