Tag Archives: Runway

Smooth Operator

Michael Kors, 1993

Kors hesitantly cites the 1970’s as an inspriation but what he really means are the ’30s. It’s an easy enough mistake as the ’70s mined its long lean line, relaxed volumes, and easy casual spirit from that post-depression, inter-war period, and so the two are not all that different. But as it was reprised in the early ’90s, in the form of minimalist luxurious sportswear, the essence is more true to that earlier decade. For Kors and Lauren it served as a refreshing inspiration, especially after a decade of excess, but they aren’t the first to realize it, Armani  had known all along.

Jil Sander, 1991

 A romantic and historicist’s touch on Jil Sander’s burgeoning minimalist look.

Considering Milanese fashion of the time: the pastiche of trompe l’oeil prints from Versace, rococo embellishments from Ferre, and hyper ethnic stripes from Missoni, Jil Sander was indeed a minimalist. But the designer’s ambitions were never a campaign for anti-fashion, instead it was a personal move, a step towards a modernity of her own making. Sander reveled in the novelty of fashion, reinterpreting its shifts and swings for herself and no one else. She did not abhor fashion, rather, she only wanted to grant it some ease.

Matthew Ames, 2010

If there is any worthwhile American tradition then it is the one that has been continued by designer Matthew Ames. If you must define American fashion by its masters: Halston, Geoffrey Beene, Pauline Trigere, Elizabeth Hawes, Isabel Toledo, Valentina, Perry Ellis, Norman Norrell, Bonnie Cashin, Claire McCarrdell, and Calvin Klein, surely it is Ames who speaks to both their ingenuity and their focus. It’s a strange circumstance that the driving discourse among young American designers eschews this tradition; obliging itself with something much more immediate and far less considered. Ames is alone in his task, his vantage is a rarity. This is the nature of the avant-garde, a particularly lonely territory in New York, and yet, it is also in its nature that even the most esoteric and obscure will eventually, in due time, become apparent.