The hotel is beautiful in a somewhat Old World way and the ballroom space for the show, with its pastel walls and swaggering plasterwork, sets the scene for elegance but there is also something a little slinky and sensual about it all. I take my seat with a glass of Champagne in hand (classy, remember?), the tarp is pulled back from the pristine runway...and seventies rock classics blast?
I am surprised and more than a little bit delighted. Paul Costelloe's AW16 woman is tough, sexy and a little bit punk. A trio in red tartan coats, thigh-high socks, slicked back hair that veers towards fauxhawk territory and smoky but minimal make-up struts out in one of the best choreographed shows I've ever personally been to.
Once again, the legs are out but its not nearly as so sweet as last season for the designer. Silhouettes still float but are weighted down by a touch of militaryesque detailing, leather, fingerless gloves or trims, intensely-starched high collars. The palette is largely dark and rich but there is a lot going on besides; ruffles, print, sheers, a variety of fabric choices, velvet, the odd pop of bright colour.
And, yet, this is clearly still the same girl. She's still rebellious, very rock and roll but proving that it can be synonymous with elegant. She's a little undone but in all the right ways. The traditionally prim and proper of tweeds and tartans are at odds with the punky details and twists. They fuse the elegant ladies we expect from Costelloe with the warriors of Mad Max that inspired him.
This girl is also quite the sensual creature. The textures of the various garments making the collection into something tactile and raw, the movement and bounce of the sweeping coats, flaring minidresses and sheer overlays making it all very alive and flirty.
This is not the Paul Costelloe I expected but, damn, do I like it.
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