The “reception music” usually tries to set the stage for what you’re about to experience. I always take a close listen to see if what the designer offers in the form of a preview successfully represents the collection to come.
At AALTO’s Paris Fashion Week presentation, the music was unusual and romantic, which made me think of a dry summer day, driving through the deserts of New Mexico with cast members of Napoleon Dynamite.
Coat of Many Colors
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(Photos: Guillaume Roujas)
Designer Tuomas Merikoski kicked off the show with immediately loveable pieces. As a sucker for menswear and box shapes, look #1 was already an A+. As more models emerged, it was evident that Merioski was creating a Le Smoking-meets-poorly-suited Italian gangster vibe. Only it worked. It was elegant. Sexy.
With the suits, Merikoski showed how a designer can easily recharge those easy, French-style layers and French-style elegance with newness and excitement.
The designer left loose chunks of fabric flying about, suggesting an easy-going, youthful, and decidedly unstiff approach to suiting. They were very career-oriented — in a gloomy way — but with a sort of ironic air, superimopsing easy and nonchalant on traditionally meticulous styles. The color-block stripe suits seemed less successful to me, seeming forced into the collection. One particular detail that stood out under the suiting was a very high collar in a pinstriped shirt, which created an-ever-so brief Victorian moment.
Then there was fur, in conjunction with Saga Furs. Big fur. Fur as dresses, and fur designed exclusively for pockets. There was even fur around necks and elbows. Fur. I typically love anything with fur, but the designer used it in such unexpected ways. It was exaggerated at times without ever being vulgar, and in others, subtle but present.
The designer used fur in such unexpected ways.
Later on we found a bit of that desert fantasy I recognized before the start of the show, in the couple of (godforsaken) cowl necks and an elbow patch. This is where the designer shows his range: from starting with a strong, high statement of a killer suit and fur, — very luxe — to an angsty desert chaser.
Was it too much?
I think the AALTO woman is a traveler looking to take her experiences with her, but there may be some experiences — such as nights in a New Mexican desert — that should stay as a memory. There were some ill-fitting pieces that were just plain awkward. I refer to the dresses that were made with not-so-fabulous ’90s cowl necks in literally AALTO’s #1 color last season. I suppose there is some appeal to them, but it wasn’t immediate for me. It was a bit of a reach. They look a bit frumpy together, but may work if restyled with more focus on proportion.
A personal favorite was look #10, a gorgeous, pinstriped, high-waist velvet pant paired with a militia green blouse, designed with those utilitarian-chic panels. (These same panels are what the designer used to create those ever-inventive exterior pockets in other looks. The designer understands very clearly that women love their pockets. They make us feel at home in an outfit.)
A personal favorite was look #10.
The two closing outerwear looks literally yielded “wows” from the audience. They were so smart: a fantastic winter color, designed to be reversible and gloriously puffy, but dramatic enough for the runway.
The two closing looks literally yielded “wows.”
The collection overall was very conscious of silhouette, and hit the nail on the head in this fundamental factor. They were lean, boyish and young, recalling a woman who lives on the skirts of the subculture but still dresses to kill.
The collection presented a new breath of fresh air in these very noticeable creative details. It was a strong one, though I’d say the color range needed work. I think the designer should have phased out the singular red piece and left the orange-peach of last season’s collection.
Casting: Alexandra Sandberg
Music: DJ Dactylo
Hair: Joseph Puljate for L’Oréal Paris
Make-Up: Karim Rahman for L’Oréal Paris
Set design: Kim Harding