Thanks to fashion156.com, I became aware of Izumi Hongo's work. And it is amazing. Her graduate collection, shown in Antwerp, is called Private Painting -- the name, to me, perfectly captures the overall delicate sensibility of this collection, with headwear reminiscent of both cloche hats and wigs from old Dutch paintings. The colors are muted pastels, combined in surprisingly strong ways.
Below are just three of my favorite looks -- I've been really digging the muted beige and peach palettes, which are all over these days under the misleading name of nudes. But notice how subtly the pinks and the peach deepen into gentle blues and then purples -- the effect over all reminds me, once again, of Vermeer's portraits. And yet, it is mutable and alive -- like a clouded sky touched by the last rays of sunset.
(all pictures are from Izumi Hongo's website)
Seriously, go to the website and look at the rest of the collection. Besides the amazing colors and the overall impression of 'delicate', no doubt enhanced by so many crocheted pieces, I also love the silhouettes. I've written before about fashion's ability to enhance as well as distort the female body, put it on display or hide or disguise it. It seems to me that this collection manages to do all yet neither of the above: the silhouette is very flapper -- yet, it looks like most clothes would be wearable by a variety of body types (I blame the drop waist of the true flapper dress for its primary suitability for the tall and the thin). They neither overaccentuate nor hide, and they add interesting sculptural elements without veering into the grotesque. These dresses a body could coexist with (and within), without either overpowering the other. This is the territory of beauty -- beauty as art, existing for the wearer rather than the watcher.
Notice also the shoes. They look like little claws, if you look closely -- a nice little jolt of surprise, especially when combined with those slouchy knee socks. These fake toe cleavage babies are sweet, subtle, and playful, and deservedly won Sacha Shoe competition this year. Those of you who are lucky enough to live in Belgium or Holland can buy them -- or at least ogle them and maybe take pictures. Me? I'm saving money for when Hongo's label gets picked up by the US retailers.