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Rifat Özbek, Spring/Summer 1991

Lucy Adjoa Armah

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

Rifat Özbek’s spring/summer collection of 1991 exemplifies his ability to successfully commoditize the very essence of ethnicity without alienating the young, creative, Western urbanites who were his collaborators and would eventually become his customers. This situates him as an early agent in the emergence of a cosmopolitan aesthetic in fashion. As today’s industry becomes increasingly provincialized and the big four fashion capitals have to cede some of their influence to satellite sites, Özbe

Hussein Chalayan, Spring/Summer 1995

Barbara Brownie

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

Hussein Chalayan’s spring/summer 1995 collection, entitled “Temporary Interference,” was his second commercial collection. It contributed to establishing Chalayan not only as a fashion designer, but as a philosopher and artist for whom clothes are a medium for provoking questions and symbolizing complex notions about human ambition. With this collection, Chalayan explores man’s ill-fated attempts to elevate himself to the status of the divine. Helium-filled balloons pull full-length slip dresses

Pink

Emma Davenport

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

Associated with cultural symbols of affection and sensuality, the color pink has often been used to depict and challenge gender identities. On the catwalk, pink has appeared in the work of a variety of designers including Versace, Chanel, Stella McCartney, and John Richmond. From pastel shades to dazzling brights, pink has been a frequent trend across all seasons, whether used to create a splash of warmth in the winter or a spot of coolness in the summer. Featured both in womenswear and menswear,

Ann Demeulemeester, Spring/Summer 1992

Elisa De Wyngaert

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

The spring/summer collection of 1992 was Ann Demeulemeester’s first fashion show in Paris. She presented her looks alongside other young avant-garde Belgian designers, including Martin Margiela. The silhouettes of the collection featured some elements which would later become known as Demeulemeester’s signatures: feathers, a strong cut, and a kind of androgyny blended with poetic femininity. Yet these silhouettes also deviated from the monochromatic feel of her later work. Furthermore, Patti Smit

Christian Lacroix, Spring/Summer 1997

Lorynn Divita

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

Lacroix will forever be known as the man who invented the high femininity look during the 1980s. His use of poufs, miniskirts, and corsets may not have been intended to start a debate, but that was the reaction, and his work even became the focus of a chapter of Susan Faludi's feminist tome Backlash. His spring/summer collection of 1997 showed his signature styles with French and ethnic influences. The rise of minimalism caused his look to fall out of favor, but his career continued as a creative

Yves Saint Laurent, Spring/Summer 1988 Haute Couture

Lorynn Divita

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

Throughout his career, Yves Saint Laurent famously drew inspiration from all of the fine arts, including painting, opera, the ballet, literature, poetry, and the works of Shakespeare. The influence of various painters on Saint Laurent’s creations dates back to his famous fall/winter 1965 “Mondrian Poliakoff” collection. His spring/summer 1988 collection, a tribute to cubism and impressionism and the work of Georges Braque and Vincent Van Gogh, was a natural fit into his oeuvre, with jackets embro

Red or Dead, Spring/Summer 1996

Jenny Evans

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

Red or Dead’s “New York Dolls” collection caused outrage in the British tabloid press. The Mail on Sunday described the show as the “sick face of British fashion” after models brandished bloodied knives, knitting needles, and scissors. The clothing was almost overshadowed by the show’s melodramatic kitsch depiction of a dystopian future inhabited by “disturbed housewives.” While the emergence of “Cool Britannia” was attracting positive global attention, Wayne and Geraldine Hemingway, Red or Dead’

Red or Dead, Spring/Summer 1995

Amelia Francis

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

The Red or Dead spring/summer 1995 ready-to-wear collection presents fashion pieces with a distinct moral statement: designer Wayne Hemmingway’s disgust at the practice of Western tourists exploiting the Far Eastern sex trade. This issue was particularly pertinent in the cultural context of the time. While this instance of a designer using his work to highlight cultural, ethical, and political dilemmas is by no means the first or last of its kind, the nature of the issue at hand, and the way it w

Chanel Haute Couture, Karl Lagerfeld, Spring/Summer 1983

Michelle Honig

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

In 1983, twelve years after Gabrielle Chanel died, the Chanel brand was given new life by Karl Lagerfeld’s debut Chanel collection. His first couture collection was highly anticipated, but was met with mixed reviews. Some believed it was a good first effort that honored Chanel’s legacy, while others believed that the Chanel house should not have been revived because no one could replace her. Lagerfeld kept the silhouettes and classic styles that Chanel popularized in the 1920s and 1930s, but adde

Chanel Haute Couture, Karl Lagerfeld, Spring/Summer 1987

Michelle Honig

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

Chanel’s spring/summer 1987 haute couture collection was shown in the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where a student demonstration outside the venue required there to be tight security. On the stage, a fake statue of the Winged Victory was clothed in Chanel and holding a quilted bag. Critics derided the bustle-inspired “parabola” line and peplum hems that “obscured the real fashion originality” and “made the models look a bit like roosters.” Despite the criticism, the empire

Chanel Haute Couture, Karl Lagerfeld, Spring/Summer 1997

Michelle Honig

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

This collection was shown at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, in the Windsor suite—in the mode of a traditional salon show. It drew positive reviews, with one saying it was “the height of refinement … how a couture customer wants to look.” Yet, it focused mostly on evening wear, with sheer, lightweight fabrics. Despite the raciness of the revealing dresses, they looked traditional and refined. To underscore the refinement, Chanel’s logo was absent from the garments. Picture hats and “feather-on-a-stick”

Chanel Haute Couture, Karl Lagerfeld, Spring/Summer 1994

Michelle Honig

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

This collection was shown in Paris beneath the Louvre in the newly renovated Carrousel underground complex, the first time a fashion show had been organized underground. The collection attracted controversy because of three dresses printed with Arabic writing. When clerics in Indonesia protested, Lagerfeld apologized, destroyed the dresses, and asked journalists and photographers not to publish photos of them. The mannequins in this show were not just top models, but celebrities and actresses. Th

Bill Blass, Spring/Summer 1984

Michelle Honig

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

This collection was all about simplicity, which led Nina Hyde at the Washington Post to comment, “Blass’s clothes have never been more simple, less contrived.” The hems were short because Blass believed that his couture customers had the money to keep their body in great shape. There were bra-like tops under conservative suits for day, and evening gowns in silk charmeuse draped in silk chiffon. Because of the simplicity of the clothes, the models’ hair was more extreme. Critics commended Blass’s

Bill Blass, Spring/Summer 1988

Michelle Honig

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

This collection was inspired by Matisse paintings that Bill Blass saw while at the National Gallery in Washington. Shown at the Parsons School of Design in New York, the clothes were short and full of froufrou due to the influence of “the sugar daddy of bonbon chic” and designer of the moment Christian Lacroix, and his short, little-girl styles. Hems were well above the knees, which concerned retailers servicing working women needing office-appropriate clothes. Even though critics liked his use o

Bill Blass, Spring/Summer 1993

Michelle Honig

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

This collection was a bit of a departure from Bill Blass’s previous collections, with critic Cathy Horyn noting that some of the pieces “seemed to come from out of the blue.” It took place in the designer’s showroom. The clothes were similar to what other designers were doing at the time, being feminine, blousy, and sheer. There were elements of overt sexiness, with a bubblegum pink dress edged in black lace and an ensemble of a black-and-white striped cardigan with the top buttons left open pair

Bill Blass, Spring/Summer 1995

Michelle Honig

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

Bill Blass’s 1995 spring/summer collection focused on color and short hemlines, clothes that he thought were “just pretty.” The dominant color was pink—a marker of femininity. That season, fashion looked to the golden age of Hollywood, the 1930s, for inspiration and Blass was no exception. However, while other designers created clothes with tight, long satin pencil skirts that hobbled movement, he ignored that trend and instead made fun and flattering clothes with a twist. His evening clothes wer

Dolce & Gabbana, Spring/Summer 1997

Tessa Maffucci

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

Dolce & Gabbana’s spring/summer collection of 1997 capitalized on their strengths. Sensual chiffon hugged curvaceous (but trim) hips and bra straps peeked out from under delicate, negligee-inspired fishtail gowns. The palette of the runway was punctuated by animal prints and florals, often visible beneath the sheer material of the dresses or through open-weave crochet sweaters. Their look is sexy and upbeat, drawing influence from Domenico Dolce’s Sicilian heritage and the imagery of Italian film

Azzedine Alaïa, Spring/Summer 1986

Veronica Maldonado

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

Azzedine Alaïa’s spring/summer 1986 collection presents the designer’s work during the height of its initial popularity. Alaïa’s work rose to prominence during the 1980s with his body-conscious silhouettes and revealing cuts, garments that spoke directly to fashion’s transitional period of the 1980s, when trends began leaning towards a more masculine yet simultaneously sexualized feminine look. Shortly after this presentation, Alaïa was given a fashion Oscar, cementing his place in the era’s fash

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Spring/Summer 1984

Veronica Maldonado

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

While most of de Castelbajac’s 1984 spring/summer contained serious and sensible clothes, the finale included a number of rectangular silk dresses screen-printed with images of household items such as US dollar bills, calculators, cigarette packs, and Warholian cans of Campbell’s soup. This was not the first time that de Castelbajac had shown these unconventionally shaped dresses—his previous collection had contained dresses emblazoned with internationally famous faces such as that of Charles de

Zandra Rhodes, Spring/Summer 1984

Veronica Maldonado

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

Rhodes’s spring/summer 1984 collection made its debut in London’s Ritz Carlton hotel. Having studied textiles before designing fashion, Rhodes’s garments utilize fabric with a high degree of detail and craftsmanship. This collection was no exception, with dresses made of embroidered chiffon, metallic sequined ensembles, and dresses encrusted with hanging pearls and crystals, all in pastel color schemes accented with blazes of magenta and deep cerulean. While a few typical 1980s body-conscious, sh

Norman Hartnell, Spring/Summer 1992

Hayley-Jane Mazières

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

With Norman Hartnell’s spring/summer collection of 1992, two legendary names and fashion societies were united—Parisian couture and British royalty. At the time, the British house, founded by the eponymous designer in 1923, was trying to revive its splendor after the death of Hartnell in 1979. Marc Bohan, having been considered the savior of the House of Christian Dior after Yves Saint Laurent’s departure in 1957, was appointed in 1990 to rescue the decaying British brand—a sensible choice. Yet t

Marc Jacobs, Spring/Summer 1995

Hayley-Jane Mazières

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

When the American designer Marc Jacobs appeared on New York’s fashion scene, in 1986, after graduating from the Parsons School of Design, he promptly attracted the attention of the fashion press, which praised his playful yet sophisticated streetwear. During his appointment as Perry Ellis’s creative director from 1988, he dared to launch a groundbreaking grunge collection in 1992—the press loved it; Perry Ellis executives loathed it—and he was publicly suspended from his assignment. Nonetheless,

Christian Dior Ready-to-Wear, Spring/Summer 2000

Hayley-Jane Mazières

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

When John Galliano was appointed by Bernard Arnault as the creative director at the French fashion house of Givenchy in 1995, he became the first British designer to lead an established Parisian brand. In fall 1996, he set the bar higher when he became responsible for Christian Dior’s haute couture, accessories, and ready-to-wear lines. Instantly remarked on with his graduate collection, “Les Incroyables,” presented in 1984 at London’s college of Central Saint Martins, John Galliano had been favo

Christian Lacroix Haute Couture, Spring/Summer 1998

Jennifer Grayer Moore

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

The spring/summer haute couture collection of 1998 by Christian Lacroix is a case study in the high theatrics that came to define much of haute couture design in the 1990s. Bold and clashing colors, patterns juxtaposed to test the very definition of good taste, and incongruous assemblages of historical details that have been inverted and exploded, manipulated, and subverted permeate this collection and beg the question of the role such clothes might play in a woman’s wardrobe. Lacroix’s work, vie

Vivienne Westwood, Spring/Summer 1993

Lucy Moyse

Source: Fashion Photography Archive 2015

Article

Based on a thorough and careful understanding of fashion history and its great designers, yet delivered with bold, bright colors, extravagant accessories, and even nudity, Vivienne Westwood’s collection for spring/summer 1993 demonstrates her nuanced mastery of her art. The collection was shown in Le Grand Hôtel, Paris: the first time Westwood had used this location, where she would go on to host several further shows.

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