AF Vandevorst’s SS11 collection presented in Paris at the Salle Wagram saw the duo offering a bold statement in gladiatorial metallics and classical drapery that seems to be one of the key trends on the catwalks this fashion week.
The Antwerp label designed by An and Filip Vandervorst offered a powerful and sexy vision of femininity that, though actually inspired by Joan of Arc, is entirely in tune with a the strong trend of Greek and Roman tunic-style dresses, tightly and sexily draped, that have cropped up in a number of collections during Paris fashion week so far. But theirs, as with a number of other designers showing, is more a vision of Ancient Rome from Hollywood or Cinecittà circa 1956 than drawn from a musty archaeological museum archive.
The SS11 AF Vandervorst collection is perhaps more immediately sexy and practical than previous collections by the duo who are noted for their deconstructionist and sculptural approach to clothing. Shimmering metallics in silvers, platinum or gold, are cleverly draped as sexy little dresses or combined with other fabrics – such as linen- and garments – such as short jackets with asymmetric collar lines- creating a slinky yet fiercely practical silhouette.
This is collection that nods to both the saintly woman combatant and pays a more general homage to sci-fi costume history. After all, as any sci-fi geek will happily verify, the cultural trends for Roman epics and sci-fi in 1950’s and early 1960’s cinema and television emerged concurrently and any film costume historian with an eye for detail soon starts to wonder whether overworked wardrobe departments combined the two through practicality or osmosis. Whatever the reason, Romans in Space would be an apt epithet for many a low-budget 1950’s sci-fi offering.
The collection is not, however, without the signature elements for which the duo is best known. The ubiquitous tight leggings that appear in many collections show up in AF Vandervorst as a slashed mummy-like version of bandaged legs entirely in keeping with their famous combinations of lingerie and medical support garments or bandages. Similarly, there are versions of the trench coat in graduated colours. They present little combos that style a mini skirt with the appearance of chainmail together with a jacket that summarises the deconstructionist asymmetrical aesthetic for which the brand first received fashion media attention. Such gestures are classic AF Vandervorst.
There’s something in this collection to both make the fashion aficionados swoon and to catch the attention of a broader new female audience who prefer sexy to unusual. Joan of Arc may just be ready to besiege Hollywood.