>> The same heart-shaped motif from Versace showed up at Balenciaga — but treated in a whole different way. Nicholas Ghesquiere continued his ode to futurism with shrink-wrapped tops, strapped-in dresses, shiny structured jackets, and even a little surprise in the form of menswear, which was added for promotional purposes. Most intriguing in this show about absorbing and reflecting light were the shoes — or the non-shoes, rather — tights pulled over platform soles; Instead of introducing a new round of "it" shoes like the Balenciaga runway usually does, Nicholas turned the attention to bags, showing them on the runway for the first time: "The collection is a bit out there, so I wanted to bring it down to something women would really wear."
>> In what could very well be his last collection, given all the rumors about his exit, Martin Margiela went the retrospective route for his twentieth anniversary collection — it would be a very fitting end, no? All of the models were faceless — a nod to the designer's obsession with anonymity — and the house uniform, a white lab coat, came out in various forms, including during the final bow, when the entire staff emerged on the runway rather than Margiela himself. A hit parade of plastic bags, disco balls, bustier catsuits, Barbie clothes, and AIDS T-shirts led into the final look: a giant silk birthday cake, with two pairs of legs underneath. Was it Margiela's final look ever?
>> Gareth Pugh proved he was worthy of Paris on Saturday, with both showpiece and showroom piece on display during his first major stage entree. Inspired by Hamlet's Ophelia, with Elizabethan collar and a little Storm Trooper mixed in, Pugh is earning comparisons as a new-age Claude Montana or Thierry Mugler. But most importantly, he was well-received into the top tier; As Suzy Menkes put it, "Pugh is zooming toward his own fashion future." Now don't forget to check out those newly-commercialized shoes of his . . .
>> Julie Verhoeven has developed a cult following for her whimsical fashion illustration style — she's designed limited-edition bags for Louis Vuitton, capsule collections for Mulberry, and for Spring 2009, Donatella Versace commissioned her to rework the Versace iconography. The result? Colorful, cartoonish Medusas scrawled across bags, gowns, and swimwear, sure to be as coveted as those Prada fairy bags from Spring 2008.
>> Crazy bird's nest hair aside, Spring 2009 Fendi is quite pretty. And actually, the hair grows on you, too, if you digest it for a minute. The femininity of laser-cut eyelet, full skirted dresses, and sheer pencil skirt petticoats underneath is juxtaposed with bold, graphic corset belts and neon bright underpinnings. Suzy Menkes wasn't such a fan of the styling, calling it "a weird cross breed of sport and lingerie," and neither was WWD, who said the belts "maimed the middle of all too many looks," but I think it goes quite well, keeps things unexpected. Now if only Karl Lagerfeld had edited out that one look that is like Prada Fall 2008 redux . . . because Karl, you're better than that.
>> A LITTLE TURN ON THE CATWALK —There have been Kate Moss, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell sightings aplenty in this supermodel revival season, but this morning's Charlie's Angels-themed Dsquared2 Spring 2009 show brought a trio of another kind — Esther Canadas, Fernanda Tavares and Nadege du Bospertus — to open the show together and close one after another. [WWD]
>> If Frida Giannini is good at one thing, it's selling clothes, and bags, and shoes, and accessories. The attendees of her Spring 2009 Gucci show will admit that she's a "master merchandiser," but another, perhaps less flattering, comparison for her collection kept coming up — Zara.
Those reviewing express disdain for Frida's blatant merchandising — at WWD: "Gucci looks are all over Zara. The argument that they seem more appropriate to such a venue than to the upper echelons of luxury fashion hasn’t put a damper on sales of the real thing, even in the United States, where everyone knows that almost nothing is selling." At The Wall Street Journal: "Not every designer puts such an array of products on the catwalk, even though they will appear in stores. At first glance, there was nothing much about either the fabrics or silhouettes of the clothes that would make them stand out from fast-fashion imitators [Zara and H&M]."
Even Cathy Horyn of The New York Times said her piece: "Apart from the updated Jackie bags and chunky stone bracelets, how luxurious was it? The olive and khaki safari dresses, with zips and drawstrings, were cute and well-executed. But are they a look you expect from Gucci, or Liz Claiborne?" Some food for thought.
>> Jonathan Saunders used colors aplenty and frothy, full skirts in his namesake Spring 2009 collection, and there was more where that came from for his first outing at Pollini. Complemented by Nicholas Kirkwood's minibags and high heels for the brand, Saunders sent out 27 looks that kept the press interested.
WWD raved: "a promising start of pretty clothes with plenty of commercial appeal"; Vogue UK wholeheartedly approved: "[Pollini] built its reputation on strong colour and prints — and Saunders proved today that he was without doubt the best choice to embrace that history"; and Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune also saw good in the match: "slimmer tailoring, still with graphic patterns, was a less dynamic take and jersey dresses were too complex in their asymmetry. But this was a clear start for Saunders." Now just one important thing remains to be seen — can the collection sell (to editors and consumers)?
>> Spring 2009's Marni is like Fall 2008 Prada went to the carnival — some of the sophisticated, form-fitting lace shapes remain, but have been reinterpreted with polka dot cut-outs and kaleidoscope prints. All the colors were surely a shock in the morning for the fashion crowd, who viewed the collection at 9 am, and while the clothes seem to be well-received, at Marni, it's all about the accessories: the big, bold stone and flower accessories.
>> A LITTLE TURN ON THE CATWALK —By now, it's well established that the Spring 2009 Prada shoes created runway carnage yesterday — Yulia Kharlapanova flat-out fell, Jessica Stam stumbled, Katie Fogarty fell and then carried her shoes for the rest of the runway, one model — who looks to be Sigrid Agren — started out in the finale, then turned and went backstage — defeated. It's all being blamed on the slippery socks the girls had to wear with their shoes, but at least the models weren't the only ones in pain at Prada — apparently the audience had to sit on wooden blocks, providing some awkward undergarment-baring situations. [The Cut, Chic Report]