Starry Night at Sophie Theallet
Before the Sophie Theallet show kicked off, we had a "fashion love moment": André Leon Talley—a fashion institution in himself—tweeting from the front row; draped in an oversize chestnut sable cape, signature black protective googles and grey Ugg boots. It’s no surprise he would be there: With Theallet being previously right-hand to both Jean Paul Gaultier and Azzedine Alaia, it puts her fair and square in the fashion camp of some of Talley’s greatest companions. What unites them all is the theater and spectacle of fashion. We have a fabulous dose of that here at MADE, but a deficit of it sadly predominates the higher-end fashion landscape in a world of commercially driven e-commerce safety, which increasingly separates fashion consumers from the designers’ original creative visions.
Previously known for girly kookiness, 2009 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award winner Theallet upped her ante to a newer, slicker theatrical level. Sharp, luxurious, bohemian and vampy—this season, her girl knows her place: She occupies a razor-thin area between high glamour and contemporary Bloomsbury—in theory a very precarious trapeze wire to navigate, but it was executed with perfection through body hugging knit dresses and second skin tailoring.
The collection’s colors, floral prints, and reflective fabrics—predominantly metallicized devoré and lurex—could be summed up by a verse in Don McLean’s vocal tribute to Van Gogh’s "Starry Night" painting: “Flaming flowers that brightly blaze/swirling clouds in violet haze/reflect in Vincent’s eyes of china blue.” But Van Gogh had his well- documented dark side, and Theallet included a subtle one of her own, too. Reigning in the femininity were leather inserts and panels in camel and black, and inky lace and satin.
As we have mentioned, this week at MADE we are celebrating the artists of fashion. McLean’s song ends with “Colors changing hue/morning fields of amber grain/are soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand.” Any potential for overt theatrics was certainly soothed by Theallet’s loving hand: The collection was polished, refined and sure to be an easy sell to both the braver and more cautious retailers.
Photography by Andrew Boyle, Joe Marquez and Chris Swainston
Follow Mary Fellowes on Twitter @MaryFellowes