Cathy Horyn Analyzes Nicola Formichetti’s ‘Genius’

So here’s an interesting angle to take for a piece of fashion journalism: During Paris Fashion Week, which is normally a celebration of craftsmanship, people mourn the end of a celebrated craftsman’s career (John Galliano) while anticipating the arrival of an untested newcomer who just happens to be best friends with Lady Gaga (Nicola Formichetti).

That’s how The New York Times‘ fashion critic Cathy Horyn frames the mood at Formichetti’s first women’s show for Mugler, the brand he took over as creative director late last year. While Thierry Mugler himself was a genius designer — one of Paris’ greatest talents — Horyn says what Formichetti produced isn’t genius so much as it was a commentary on what genius means in fashion.

Mr. Formichetti’s show was not a work of genius, but it was a show about genius in the present moment — its limits, its futility. If Paris couture is about history, craft and masters, the new Mugler is about nonspecialists, quick communication and downgrading the role of technique and craft, at least in the heavy, earnest sense.

We don’t know that there were lines to read that far between in Formichetti’s collection, but Horyn is right about the lightness of the collection. Formichetti’s work with his head women’s designer Sébastien Peigné is more about giving women a little bit of edge than it is about giving them capital F fashion. And they succeeded in doing just that, with plenty of dramatic high shoulders and slits that make the clothes, as Peigné told Horyn, “as light and second-skin as possible.”

Horyn, who’s generally the last person to pull punches, gave Formichetti credit for getting the mood of the moment — that is to say, for acknowledging that he’s not the end all and be all of the Mugler parade. And in a climate where people have accused the fashion industry of being inhumane or breeding substance abuse, that might be better than a four-star review.

At Mugler, Genius and Its Limits [The New York Times]

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