If the house of Saint Laurent is a French cathedral, not to be messed with lightly, then Chanel today seemed to be the convent school — and all the kids were out to play. The tolling bell that opened the show, on a long runway that had the models coming and going from two entrances, was the cue that Karl Lagerfeld was signaling a new day. Whom does the bell toll for? Any fashion house that doesn’t recognize that its customers aren’t sitting around in Armonk waiting for news of another bouclé suit with pearls. They are getting younger, and they need new forms of stimulation.
And that’s what Mr. Lagerfeld is here for, though at first you couldn’t make sense of anything. The clothes came out in such a nutty rush — now a classy pink-checked suit with a white fur muff sporting the Chanel logo, now a cute Nordic snow-crystal knit minidress. The models kept flying past, this way and that. It was great exercise for the neck. And for accessories, there were plush boots, rhinestone pistol chokers and plastic reindeer pins. Reindeer pins?
Then the dawn began to gong, as Mr. Lagerfeld sent out fitted jackets with ruffled minis, a look that not only recalled the early 1980’s but also the way young women dress today. And when he ended the show with the models kitted out in mountaineering and snowboarding gear, including a young guy moseying along in his own slacker-style sleeping bag, you got the picture. ‘Tis a new day.
from TOM FORD GETS IN STEP AT SAINT LAURENT, AND IT’S THE HABANERA by CATHY HOYRN, NYT, 2001
Looks from Martin Margiela’s Fall 2001/2002 collection for Hermès
Akin to Marc Jacobs who debuted at the same time for Louis Vuitton in 1998, Martin Margiela’s hiring to design Hermès’s ready-to-wear was an eyebrow raiser for many. The conceptually leaning Belgian designer was as far removed as one could be from the conservative culture of such a storied luxury house, all the better to design it. What is revealed in the late Jean-Louis Dumas’s decision to hire Margiela is the house’s advanced and intricate understanding of luxury and the need to readdress its meaning in today’s world. Margiela’s ideas, much like the work for his own label at the time, preached a luxury rooted in discretion and a private, personal pleasure. Hermès under Margiela would be the foil to Marc Jacobs’s ultimately spectacular and market saturated Louis Vuitton. Certainly it showed that the Hermès woman was a thinker and not merely a consumer.
In 2001, Cathy Hoyrn characterized the meat of Marigela’s efforts for Hermes as a “cashmere wrap coat or shapeless jumper for the antifashion rich” that even “Ms. Sander herself would respect,” said among rumors at the time that Jil Sander was going to to take over design duties. Margiela would exit Hermes in 2004, passing on the reigns to Jean Paul Gaultier who brought to it the theatrics befitting a global luxury brand, a very different direction but one just as suited to the times. And now, after a worldwide recession, amid an emerging global culture, in the face of contemporary fashion’s isntantaneous dissemination and waning mystique, the house reorients itself yet again.