29-Jun, 09:02

14:57, October 25 189 0

2016-10-25 14:57:15
On the Runway: Azzedine Alaïa and the Reason Not to Buy Into the ‘See Now/Shop Now’ Movement

Perhaps the most convincing argument yet against the “see now/shop now” movement that threw the most recent women’s wear season into chaos occurred Sunday afternoon in Paris, almost three weeks after the season had officially ended. It took the form of Azzedine Alaïa’s spring collection, which could be termed “see when it’s ready/shop later.”

Given the timing, lots of people (including this one) could not, in fact, see the collection in person, but viewed it via the screen as opposed to in the showroom. It did not seem any less enticing.

Just because Mr. Alaïa notoriously turned his back (or at least his side) on the formal fashion system years ago does not mean that he functions entirely outside it — or its trends. He may not buy into the current Instagram-spiral of immediacy (Why should he? His business is bigger than ever.) and insists on his own independence, but the collection had an aesthetic currency that placed it squarely in the front of the fashion conversation, weaving together strands of sport, tribal romance and optical illusion in one seamless … well, knit. Or suit. Or dress.

As it happened, while he was preparing the collection, Mr. Alaïa was also working on costumes for two ballet companies — the Ballet Preljocaj and Ballet Vlaanderen — and the experience seems to have filtered into his women’s wear, giving garments an ease of movement that is notable. If he made his name by embracing the power of the female body, now he is freeing its form.

Tank dresses extended from mid-thigh to mid-calf, traced by curving seams of studs; leather skirts were cut on the diagonal and paired with camisole tops; and belts were fringed to flutter, just a bit, with the stride. There were zip-up palazzo pant jumpsuits and zip-up bomber jacket tennis-skirt suits, both in patterns of pixelated polka dots; easy drop-waisted dresses and glimmering trapeze shifts. And though there was some black (most notably in a tailored jacket over flowing trousers with a tuxedo swish), the palette was equal parts red, white and navy with some celadon on top, as well as a sprinkling of stripes and a scattering of pansies.

It culminated in multidimensional dresses that shrouded an inner layer of Op Art dots or stripes beneath a more opaque peekaboo outer layer of knits, like a secret that could be glimpsed but not accessed. Just in case anyone had missed the point that fashion is, most of all, for the woman who wears it, and that transformation happens on the body, not in the atelier or through a Snapchat filter. It may be a complicated — and time-consuming — idea to design, but not to grasp.

And for that promise, who wouldn’t be willing to wait?