SS 2017 – New York Fashion week
by Federica Camurati
If you’re an art buff, Jenny Packham’s invitation to her latest Spring Summer 2017 show might look familiar. As a matter of fact, back in 1943, Peggy Guggenheim sent out a very similar one for her controversial “Exhibition by 31 Women”.
Well, on September 11th the British designer, owner of one of the UK’s most successful and independent fashion brands with global recognition, “nicked” the idea for a breath-taking and full of glamour collection of 31 looks, as it was inspired by 31 distinct – but united in style, power, strength and confidence – women.
“31 women” means past and present divas, style icons from around the world, pure artists; as the bridal and evening wear designer is a celebrity favourite (among the others, Duchess of Cambridge’s favourite too), it’s not surprising that the muses for her collection were some of the Hollywood’s most stylish A-listers. And Packham bewitched New York Fashion Week with a ready to wear collection based on elements of their own individual style and sensibility, embodying the uniqueness of each and capturing very different personalities in a really enchanting mix.
The 31 names? They were listed in the show notes and included Brigitte Bardot, Isabella Rossellini, Lauren Bacall, Jennifer Connelly, Charlotte Rampling, Paloma Picasso and Rooney Mara.
The fashion show took place inside the elegant James A. Farley Building, the main United States Postal Service building in New York City and among the celebrities seated in the front row there were the actresses Candace Cameron Bure, Cara Santana and Nazanin Boniadi. The show had a killer soundtrack which included songs by Stevie Nicks, PJ Harvey and Courtney Love – an appropriate choice, considering they were two of the 31 names.
On the catwalk, the result of Jenny Packham’s inspiration was simply amazing. She struck gold with a sensational collection of flowing feminine dresses paraded alongside glamourous eveningwear, with a mixed colour palette encompassing a wide range of colours – from white to black, gold, nude and red – unveiled in a halo of gold and yellow with little puffs of dry ice as the models strode out. She showed her signature mix of glitz and glamour in the most disparate silhouettes, from stylish jumpsuits to Red Carpet worthy gowns; she included incredibly daring confections of beads, sequins and embellishment layered onto transparent nude sheaths, leaving little to the imagination. There were flamenco, bohemian, tennis dresses, some beautiful, slender, long-sleeve embellished gowns, as well as sequined wide trousers and timeless pleated chiffon and adorned georgette. Intricate detailing and embellishments really stole the show, as floral embroidery, illusion tulle and cascading sequins were featured throughout the line. Full of glamour came in the form of gold illusion tulle beaded tops, Chantilly lace gowns studded with sequins and Swarovski crystals, metallic lace ruffle neck blouses and embellished wide-leg trousers.
Having a motley crew of icons, Packham looked into each woman and pulled one thing, so the collection had a little bit of everything.In some cases, the muses are not instantly recognizable, sometimes it was just a colour they wore, like Blake Lively inspired sparkling gold, or a detail such as a big ruffled neck for Catherine Deneuve, but you can feel they’re there. A pleated, caped chiffon mini with a Guggenheim-inspired graphic print was for Florence Welch and a floor-length gown patchworked with swaths of sunset-color silk was Iman’s. A black-and-white chiffon halter gown was instantly evocative of Elizabeth Taylor, but it bordered on the costumey. Other Red Carpet-bound dresses riffed on modern Hollywood starlets like Julianne Moore, Rachel Weisz, Carey Mulligan and Jennifer Lawrence. Also, an embroidered black-and-white matching shorts set was inspired by the flowery works of Frida Kahlo, and a tailored blazer was reminiscent of Charlotte Gainsbourg’s easy, French style.
Although the style of the women listed by the designer as her inspiration varies, the cohesive collection stayed true to her design aesthetic anyway. Packham’s signature embellishments were as lavish as ever, but she was experimenting with embroidery too; she also loosened up her silhouettes a bit, focusing less on the sequined, body skimming column dressed and more on flowing, lightly adorned frocks.
The looks were paired perfectly with Christian Louboutin gold stilettos and Linda Farrow Seventies style round sunglasses.