Premonitions of the romantic, if restrained, future emerged at the Paris shows in March 2004 (see issue 37), but it took a year for the dark clouds to unleash their force, making black a deliberate and forceful trend with a sumptuous feast of subtle embellishment and shimmering, dense textures (see issue 61). As usual, a new aesthetic is the product of a new generation of creators. Lanvin‘s Alber Elbaz, Rochas‘ Olivier Theyskens, and Balenciaga‘s Nicolas Ghesquiere have led the way, as discussed in issue 61 (see interview with Barneys’ Julie Gilhart). Since black is also the trademark color of the avant-garde, we didn’t forget the Japanese — those original champions of the darkest hue. The uncompromising radicalism of Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe, and Jun Takashi of Undercover is, once again, right on track. They keep pushing the boundaries, satisfying a growing need for more challenging inventions and general style oddities.
Having been on the pulse of the jewelry movement for a while, we didn’t forget to look for sinister signs in that realm. We found many. Boho adornment has clearly given way to more pointedly considered choices even in haute joaillierie: tattoo-like shapes, insignias, smoky stones, even mild tribalism (see issues 67, 56, and 76). On the edgier side, a mystical primitivism from Japan emerged from the deep corners of the underground (see issue 64). In New York, we found the creepy, hyper-stylish accumulations of designer Dana Lorenz and her label Fenton (issue 62.)
Dangling adornments dripping with skulls and chains evoke dark romance and rock ‘n roll! Elsewhere in menswear, the pervasive murkiness brought back the classic rock stylings of skinny jeans and skinnier jackets. Add to that tons of black, clusters of studs, and eerie prints, and lo!, the dandy rocker takes the stage. Designers like Cloak‘s Alexandre Plokhov and Hedi Slimane have long been channeling a skeletal, angular take on masculinity; young stalwarts are now following their footsteps, courting a whole breed of stylish men who just wanna rock, either in a suit, in black jeans — a massive trend that you first read about in issue 65 — or functional T-shirts emblazoned with a bevy of skulls, skeletons, and animals, all provided by obscure, street-elite labels (see issues 64 and 78).
Can things get any darker than this? Of course they can. In interiors, you have Salvor‘s fauna pillows (see issue 64), not to mention Rick Owens’ gothic, streamlined pieces (see issue 71). Meanwhile, all the twisted, white minimalism in Milan, London’s dark eclecticism, and the mercurial temper of the Paris collections for s/s ’06 — with punkish tartans and Doc Martens boots making a notable comeback at Commes and Junya (see issues 75 and 76) — seemed like a new embodiment, or slight adjustment, of the same theatrically somber spirit. Stay tuned. But turn off the lights.
Lanvin s/s ’06
Junya Watanabe s/s ’06
Hiroshi Kuri accessories
Richard Kidd T-shirt
Undercover a/w ’05-’06
Salvor Fauna collection
Rick Owens furniture