Fashion! Turn to the left. Fashion! Turn to the right.
Although I am loathe to draw comparisons between the two worlds, there’s something of a parallel existing between the worlds of Australian politics and international fashion at the moment. Here, we have an outwit, outplay, outlast game of she knived, he knived, with our government embroiled in a pretty embarrassing leadership #respill. There, they have – and have had for a while – a similar game of leadership musical chairs. With probably better chairs.
Take Dior. The leader of one party (Galliano) ousted for slanderous behaviour and remarks, replaced by his deputy (Bill Gaytten) over a year ago – although not by popular election – who then cops a bit of flack for failing to fill the bedazzled swashbuckling shoes of his mentor. A few minor successes, a Bill (sorry) passed here or there, but still without the full backing of the industry and media.
Left: The boy that would have been king, John Galliano, and Right: his protege turned successor, of whom you can’t find a decent photograph, Bill Gaytten.
Or Yves Saint Laurent, where Stefano Pilati faces a contract up for renewal and incessant rumours of his replacement by his contemporaries on account of his being unpopular with the (faceless) management, despite increasing profits of up to 30%. Sound familiar?
It came as a surprise then that a few days ago the house of Jil Sander announced that beloved creative director and critically adored designer, Raf Simons, would make his departure from the helm of the Milanese based company the day after his Fall 2012 show, only to be replaced by the brand’s namesake, Sander herself. Simons’ name has been thrown around endlessly as a successor to both Gaytten/Galliano at Dior and Pilati at YSL and has beenly openly courted by both parties, leading to speculation that he’s been given the proverbial stirrup-wedge boot from Fall 2011.
A statement released by the Jil Sander group, which you can read here, hints that the parting of Simons from the house was not amicable, eschewing mention of Simons as being responsible for the brand’s recent return to prominence and gesturing that things will be different from now on at the house that Jil built. This will be Sander’s third attempt at leading the party that bears her name, and she will assume creative control of the ALP design house as of Monday. Sounds familiar, again?
Left: The label’s eponymous maker Jil Sander in her stock standard portrait, and Right: industry dahlink Raf Simons lounges at his enviously decorated home shot by Willy Vanderperre for Fantastic Man.
Rumours surfaced last night (AEST and via WWD) that designer turned photographer Hedi Slimane is also poised to replace Pilati at YSL, where he first rose to prominence before his tenure at Christian Dior, where he was accredited with popularising the return of an androgynous silhouette in menswear at both houses. Pilati is due to show his Fall 2012 on March 5th, one week after our own government casts their vote at Summer 2012’s most eagerly anticipated tribal council. There’s something about Mondays.
PilatiSlimane sounds like a fad exercise but is actually the latest in a series of fahshunz userpashunz. Left: a seriously concerned Stefano Pilati, and Right: the always black and white Hedi Slimane.
Powerplay aside, Simons’ swansong collection for Sander has been critically acclaimed for its re-imagining of 50s and 60s couture shapes – double-breasted swing coats, asymmetrical slip dresses and swing skirts, bustier jumpsuits and ankle-length robes – in both soft floral pastels and vivid, minimalist colours. A day-to-night domestic narrative explored the theme of relationships that began with morning robe coats faced in pastel pink and coffee, black and red, culminating in silver lamé sheaths and ending on a fetishistic black patent PVC leather note with strapless bustier gowns.
The collection received a standing ovation, an encore and waterworks from both the departing designer and his captive audience, who will follow Simons wherever he goes. If only the same could be said of our politcal figureheads who, regardless of whatever happens on Monday, have a hard act to follow and an even harder season to come – much like Ms Sander.