PRÊT-À-PORTER FALL 2012
I met Marcel Marongiu, the artistic director for the house of Guy Laroche, in 2009. In the nearly three years since, we’ve become great friends, which makes it both very easy and rather difficult to report on him and his designs. As a friend, I only want to say good things about his work (which I love, for the most part); but in any of his collections, there will always be individual colors, concepts, fabrics or silhouettes I like more than others. The nice thing about our relationship is that I can say what I feel yet not hurt his feelings.
This season, I arranged to have a sneak peek at the collection, much to my friend’s dismay (he’d wanted it to be a surprise), and I’m glad I did–Marcel had been telling me for months about the rich fabrics he would use and how luxurious the collection would be. It’s often difficult to appreciate a runway collection’s nuances if you only see it pass by once (and quickly, at that), so I was pleased to have had a leisurely preview before the défilé even started.
Guy Laroche has a long history (it was founded as a maison de couture in 1957), but today it’s an underestimated brand, deserving of more attention. Of course, as is the case with any runway show, a designer must prove himself in twenty minutes or less. It seems brutal, but that’s how it works.
For Fall ‘12, Marcel took inspiration from architectural photographs by Aitor Ortiz–particularly his images of demolished buildings, which Marcel found simultaneously disturbing and appealing. This is often the case with Marcel: he has a yin-yang approach to designing that renders his clothes both sexy and understatedly feminine. For example, I’ll sometimes see pieces from an upcoming collection hanging in his studio, but I can’t tell what they look like until I try them on and everything falls into place. Why? Because Marcel doesn’t design for shock value or hanger appeal–instead, he relies on a rare combination of intelligence and experience to make women look amazing. For this collection, even the shoes and bags were fab, and everything was designed by Marcel. All of which represents an enormous amount of work!
That said, there were a few specific pieces that really stood out for me on the runway, including a short jacket in cayenne-colored silk–the cut and even the color (not typically a favorite) said, yes, this is you! Then there were some beautiful, transparent tops (so chic, and very wearable) and a grey, metallic-silk blouson top with a long, flowing skirt that looked amazing. I also loved a pearl organza blouse shown with a knee-length black skirt; the sweaters and coats of Mongolian lamb; and the striking finale of gold-trimmed pieces in black velvet. Gold with black is proving to be a real trend for Fall, which I happened to mention to Marcel after the show. His response? He’d found his own inspiration in Ortiz’s photographs, and wasn’t following any trends.
But my favorite look in the whole show was this richly-textured gold outfit, above, especially the jacket-like top with its three-quarter sleeves. The entire ensemble is made of glittering paillettes affixed so densely to a tricot base that Marcel calls the material “paillette fur.” Something this bold makes a truly modern statement, and I could see myself wearing it to a swish soirée!
Getting to know Marcel Marongiu has been wonderful, and I’ve really come to appreciate his sincere desire to help women look beautiful, and modern. I have a well-developed sense of what looks good on me, but Marcel can also inspire me to push at the edges of my “comfort zone.” I won’t wear anything I don’t like–but I love wearing Marcel’s clothes, especially when observers respond with enthusiasm. All during New York Fashion Week, for example, people stopped to ask what I had on. The answer was often Guy Laroche!
Photographs by Stéphane Israël