The spring/summer ’09 season sees tributes to cultures all over the world. This global perspective is focused with a distinctly orientalist eye—think ’70s-era Yves Saint Laurent with his animal prints, safari-inspired cuts and dark-skinned models—but manages to translate into a variety of aesthetics.
The Orient was a huge inspiration in collections by Ralph Lauren, Paul Smith and Gucci with harem pants in glistening metallics, ornate detailing and flowing kaftans in glowing colors. Meanwhile Anna Sui and Henrik Vibskov celebrated Native American heritage with strong primary colors, feathers and tribal prints. At Louis Vuitton, meanwhile, Marc Jacobs combined the latter with exoticist African inspiration taken from YSL himself. For his namesake label, Jacobs joined the ranks of Alexander McQueen and Diane von Furstenberg by featuring fringe on clothing, shoes and bags. These collections also used notable materials such as wood and leather (particularly suede and python).
Junya Watanabe’s array of dreamy, colorful frocks and heavy headgear seemed to have been taken from the same page of inspiration as Vivienne Westwood’s draped, unfinished-looking dresses in fleshtones with black paintings reminiscent of cave-drawings. Labels such as Missoni and Bottega Veneta, meanwhile, incorporated the tribal trend by using a color palette inspired by exotic spices: deep orange, saffron yellow, cinnamon. By contrast, Bernhard Willhelm’s heavily painted amazons and Jeremy Scott’s iron butterflies definitely looked like they were in tribal gear—though the origin of their inspiration seemed more fantastical that foreign-born.
And there’s no sign that this trend will end any time soon. The recent s/s ’10 menswear shows in Paris and Milan exhibited residual influence from this current tribal trend, proving that the classic look has room to expand and evolve.
—Christina von Messling