Tuesday, February 12, 2008

London Fashion Week: Extrabraganza!

Maybe we expect too much of New York. We've become so accustomed to the glamour version of New York that when New York turns out to be ordinary we don't know where to turn.

Take Fashion Week, for example. Big marquee names without big marquee clothing. Dresses for socialites, debris for artists. Somewhere in between, a few comers and Anna Sui. But this is New York, where if our legends don't live up to, well, legend, then we at least expect the understudy to become the star.

New York Fashion Week bowed out with the dull befuddlement of Marc Jacobs, a collection that called for neither roses nor multiple curtain calls.

The place we should be turning is London, to Jean-Pierre Braganza.

Braganza already has a few tyro seasons under his belt. He's the young designer who was chosen by Karl Lagerfeld to be Lagerfeld's protégé in the Australian Merino Wool Innovation project. Karl has a good eye, because Braganza is poised to revive something that hasn't happened since 1967.

Braganza is making London swing again. He's the antidote to the blowout that was Paris and the glazed referendums of New York.

Perhaps Lagerfeld noticed the way Braganza stands away from the pack, creating his own separate and self-sustaining kingdom. The best designers do that and make it look effortless. You know you're daring a new world by the nomenclature: Plutonicon. Convincementavia. Mytholactica. And his Autumn/Winter 2008 collection, Chromacolyte.

Braganza is building a 21st-century escape pod, and with each collection he refines those key items that must be included on any journey into the future unknown. Since 2004, he has made these items animate through a thorough understanding of the human form and how to display it for its ultimate efficiency and eroticism. A Braganza collection is a metaphysical pilgrimage on which you destroy illusion from the outside in. It's even more rewarding if you remember your geometry and can hitch a ride on a spaceship.

Lagerfeld would have seen the way a Braganza (no need for a noun) is cut for tension and release, revealing the dynamic but never the process. These are the clothes that spark adventure; they are liberating agents when everything else is sewn up tight as a drum.

The first thing you notice in Chromacolyte is the lack of delusive detail. There's so much of this everywhere else that it takes a moment to realize that what appears to be starkness is merely Braganza pouring aqua regia on the zippers of trash culture.

It's pretty arousing stuff, and it's best experienced as an insiders' collective. These are not clothes for the High Street, but for those lodestars who will at some point in the future be called upon to deliver us from some very awkward messes of our own careless devise.

Braganza's a millenarian, and his work reads like an ongoing narrative of the next thousand years. With each new collection he streamlines and sequences a unified theme. Favorite shapes remain from season to season, with jodhpur hips, twiggy trousers, cutaway necklines, and blouson hems threaded from collection to collection. Draping is treated the way a painter treats chiaroscuro, with careful arrangement that serves the body instead of the garment. A complete absence of tricks and twists, like the lack of embellishment, seems so simple and at the same time so mysteriously obvious. Back in New York, someone is smacking his head and saying, "Of course! Why didn't I think of that?"

The reason they didn't and they won't is that they are condottieri stretching for present novelty while Braganza retrenches and redefines the future. His love of surrealism gives him both infinity and boundary, two things that should be mutually exclusive but are not when handled by one who understands natural equipoise.

Braganza is unlocking a nerve center that is poised for flight. This, children, is the shape of things to come.

Images: British Vogue


susie_bubble said...

How much do I love you for reviewing Braganza's collection in the way that you do....!

Suzanna Mars said...

SB, I figured you for a Braganza girl! I love so many pieces in this collection; I never like fussiness in clothing or in fact much detail either, so this Chromacolyte really soothed the eye.

Everything he does seems to be done with optimization in mind. He just gets it.

riz said...

Haven't started on london yet...haven't even looked at any of the collections...

Suzanna Mars said...

Riz,there's a lot of stuff to look at. I spent all last night reviewing Braganza's past work and only looked otherwise at Jaeger. Contrasted to JP, Jaeger didn't look fresh at all, because they are working with the past, even as I do love a good Mongolian lamb coat (and idiotically threw mine away last season, thinking I was too old for it).

JP is so fresh to me. That grey dress says it all.

riz said...

I really like this sentence: "they are condottieri stretching for present novelty while Braganza retrenches and redefines the future" -

I think this is exactly why the collections of the younger fringe designers have been anti-climactic. If it's not necessarily about the production of "shock" it's about the constant and strained pursuit of novelty...

(you are awesome - i'm going to write you a VDay email)

Libertygirl said...

odd tho that he's suddenly garnering all this attention cos he's been kicking around for YEARS... seriously... he's been showing off schedule in London for a quite some time now, & it's very recently that he seems to have ome on radar. Oh well, it was ever thus LLG xx ps tag, you're it.

Libertygirl said...

ps never too old sweetpea! LLG xx

pps s'okay Riz: I haven't even done NYC yet. oops.


where Braganza never fails is with his black. It may seem so simple to work in black and many designers (especially the new ones) always try to catch the flow. but black has to be treated right as any other color. JPB has that. his outfits made in black are always the most appealing and the most convincing one. Something solid and edgy and HARD. love that.
he has this attitude, he's alway serious about what he does, but never narcissistic or snobbish. he's just about what it is - the androgynous cut with (as you mentioned) no decorating, no fancy stuff. something very strong, very magestic.
one of my london's favorites (there are lots of them, actually. this is my favorite week in a while).

enc said...

Braganza snuck up on me. I'm in love now.