Tuesday, March 24, 2015


I recently re-re-re-watched Robert Altman's much (and very unfairly) maligned Prêt-à-Porter (1994), and, let me tell you, if you require a little boost of enthusiasm for the never-ending 1990s revival, it's all here. Using a combination of staged catwalk shows and real footage from 1994 Autumn/Winter Paris Fashion Week, the film evokes an amazing sense of nostalgia for the era.

Let's start with Gianfranco Ferré for Christian Dior:
Why, hello sports luxe, I thought I hated you, but you're look mighty fine right here. What an incredibly cool collection for a fashion house so wrapped up in its own traditions. P.S. Could these designs have been the inspiration for Mona May's iconic tennis court costumes in Clueless (1995)?
I'd like to think so.

And here's Christian Lacroix
Any declension narrative of the 21st century should include a lament for the folding of the Christian Lacroix label in 2009. The heady, rich glamour of mid-1990s fashion is so evident in this collection. The Balkan-ish surface decoration and headdresses in Lacroix's collection hints at a trend that is fully fledged in Jean Paul Gaultier's:
I find Gaultier's collection so beautiful but at the same time have to work hard not to think of the objectionable adjectives that would doubtless be used to describe it - ethnic, tribal, gypsy, exotic... ew.

On a happier note, did you spot Bjork?
I adore the short scene featuring Sonia Rykiel's Autumn/Winter 1994 collection:
When did models stop walking like that? I know everyone goes on about Linda Evangelista's "$10,000 to get out of bed" line, but boy do these women earn every cent. See also the fictional Cort Romney's (played by the heavenly Richard E. Grant) collection, which actually featured Vivienne Westwood's designs:

Westwood's real-life show was similarly theatrical - and it was Carla Bruni who modelled that fur g-string:
And Kate Moss got her boobs out.
What else is new?

In a very different vein is Xuly Bet's collection for the fictional designer Cy Bianco (played exquisitely by Forest Whitaker. SPOILER AHEAD...: Cy Bianco and Cort Romney make out. Heaven):
There aren't enough dust-ups on catwalks these days.

Finally, on non-fashion note, Prêt-à-Porter contains Julia Roberts' finest performance in any film ever: