Fashion’s Zenith

So close, yet so far away–five collections ranging from S/S 2008 to F/W 2010 that we’d love to see resurrected.




There are five collections ranging from the Spring/Summer 2008 to Spring/Summer 2010 seasons that I can’t get off my mind. This isn’t a recent advance or some twisted testament to the regressive nature of my style–I’ve loved each independent collection since I first saw them own their respective runways. But over ten fashion seasons later, it’s high time I ask myself (and fortunately or unfortunately, you, too) why I’m still not over them.

Initially, I had two hypotheses. On the one hand, I wondered (but not in the way Carrie Bradshaw wondered) if I was so drawn to the collections because they all clock in from the last few seasons that I was still “an outsider.” I used to look at the shows through whatever lens would allow me with big bright eyes, the way a young boy might look at his cool older brother who’s in high school and wonder when he will experience the zenith of his existence, too.

On the other hand, I humbly asked myself if fashion has actually reached a strange, post-postmodern peak. Are these the collections that inform the last time fashion felt fresh? (I can probably take this a step further and blame the internet on the banality of current trends which are essentially the above photographed trends recycled ad nauseaum.)

Last week, I critically looked at the collections and tried to uncover precisely what it was I loved about them. In combining the pieces that struck most prevalent chords from the respective shows and then looking at them as a collective, I thought I might recognize patterns, or similarities, or whatever additional clues the garments could have been unconsciously informing about the way in which I consume fashion.

But I learned it’s not that unilateral. The commonality that I could note hasn’t informed just the way I consume fashion, it’s informed the way fashion consumes fashion. These collections were all, in their own subversive ways, trend benchmarks that are still percolating through our style psyches.

Take those highbrow, surf inspired, tie dye Proenza Schouler looks. Sure, everyone was doing dresses and people were certainly doing cut-outs but were they melding worlds so perversely different from one another to infuse these unique elements. Conversely, I have to wonder if Phillip Lim subconsciously suggested that I wear denim on denim–with an additional coat over my shoulders but not through my arms–from the getgo. I need not explain my infatuation with the Versus dresses, which seem so appropriate right now given the imminent Punk inspired Met Gala and as for that Alexander Wang. No one (short, of course, of Galliano and Gaultier) was doing a contemporary motorcycle jacket that high fashion at a seemingly attainable price point. It seems like right there stood the re-birth of fashion’s most modern iteration of the tomboy. And–don’t shoot me–I still think about that mesh bodycon dress sometimes.

Per that Balenciaga collection–the watercolor florals, the strong silhouettes, the shoulders, the lace-up boots. It’s bereaved admiration I feel when I look at Ghesquiere’s work. So is that it? Have we reached a standstill? Or to swing this pendulum way, way, way around, is this just a hard case of nostalgia that is reflectively forcing me to see and subsequently feel something far greater than I had in the moment? Let’s ruminate.

Runway images from

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  • I don’t think I’ll ever stop thinking about how wonderful that second look is!

  • Sombody from Somewhere
  • monkeyshines
  • Preach sister! Real icons that you’ve referenced! Love it!

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  • Camilla Ackley

    I will never get that Versus collection out of my head.


    (Be mine, cut out wonders)

    xo Camilla

    Into The Fold

  • babu
  • Belén Cavas Hernández

    Fantastic yellow parka. LOVE IT!!!


  • Nico

    Colors, shapes..everything is still good! Anyway every current collection contains elements from past collections…everything come back.

  • I am totally behind the resurrection of that Proenza collection. I am still kicking myself for not finding a way to string together the funds for some of those dresses. And the Balenciaga collection speaks to me quite loudly as well. I don’t think that fashion is at a standstill, though I do think the ubiquity of it all via the Internet requires putting one’s own spin on things (as you’re wont to do). Fashion is a huge pendulum that swings this way and that, but just when you think it’s all been done and seen before, a new bit of genius crops up. And it’ll always be about how it’s worn in real life anyway.

  • brunetteletters

    Their legs are about to break!! So skinny omg….anyways, the first look is my favorite.

    I hate how I have things I absolutely love, yet they soon become ‘last season’ and ‘old.’

    Brunette Letters Blog

  • gp

    if you consider that most ‘trends’ last a decade or more, we’re likely just in the midst of varying iterations of the same initial trend.

    we don’t site styles by the year unless they’re close to us.

    I think it’s too soon to say we’ve reached a peak. Catherine de’ Medici probably thought that she’d achieved the pinnacle of corsets & shoes for all of time,

    and then came bras and sandals

  • Sara

    I love the structured/poofy sleeves. That said, I absolutely cannot wait for bloggers to start putting their arms through their jackets. It’s really overdone at this point.

  • Bre

    Awesome reference on the Wang denim/ leather moto. I just got one similar this season and here i was thinking i’m such hot shit. Quite a few years late to the party…

  • Samantha Berkley

    Love the skirt on the fourth outfit.

  • Ariel Robert

    That’s my favorite collection! Versus f/w 2010

  • That Balenciaga collection was definitely one of my favourites of that season. I loved this post – every trend comes back eventualy, fashion is a cyclic process after all.

  • Leandra Medine

    Email from Mattie worth reading re: this post

    Here’s a weird thought that I’m thinking (as prompted by your article
    today). Arthur Danto, this amazing art historian, said that art history
    ended with Andy Warhol’s Brillo Box. With that piece of art–which
    didn’t transform the art object in any way or attempt to represent
    anything beyond what it physically was–art had officially exhausted
    every stylistic possibility. But he didn’t think that meant people
    should stop making art or anything. He was just like woo hoo! Artists
    can make whatever they want now. It’s all equal. There’s no trajectory
    to follow anymore.

    Basically, what I’m wondering is whether that’s what’s
    happened in fashion. If it is, it’s kind of frustrating in some way,
    because it makes a designer’s point of view feel arbitrary and it makes
    trends feel banal and unimportant (like you said), but it’s also

    O’ course, the question then is, what was fashion’s
    “brillo box”? When did this “anything goes” theory begin? Kurt Andersen
    once wrote a piece kind of about this topic (, but he doesn’t quite pin down the moment of its inception.

    • N G

      All this pondering is making my head hurt. lol. At the end of the day fashion is one big giant tumble dryer, and whatever is in trend is whatever the top designers pull out and say it is. Skorts are back. Overalls are back. Etc, etc. So don’t be perplexed about not being over it; these looks will be back again in our lifetime.

      • Leandra Medine

        I think my concern is more that they never left! They just haven’t been as good either

        • N G

          Maybe you feel that way b/c you’re OD’d on fashion? I feel you though, when something is THAT good, you already set yourself up for disappointment.

  • That Balenciaga collection is eternal!

  • Love the second look and the denim on denim from Phillip Lim!

  • caseyhuth

    Thank you for this (Proenza ss2010 was the peak of their career in my opinion, oops) and those two looks are the best from the show. RIP. Miss this kind of stuff at nyfw. So boring now. Also you left out Miu Miu ss2010. Vivla la cut out dresses w cat print. Anways- thanks

  • I just got done watching a few episodes of Sex and the City… I cannot help but read this the way Carrie Bradshaw would narrate it.

  • Hmm it is hard to
    say. I think 2010 was just a really bangin’ year in fashion, anyhow. Of course,
    that Proenza collection brought tears to my eyes (along with the accompanying
    pastel hair) with its layers, colors, textures. One collection from that year that
    I still can’t get over is that of Miu
    Miu. All those cut-outs and baby doll dresses and cats and birds (on things, la
    la la ) and sequins. It was a true sight. And I must not forget the shoes. THE
    SHOES. It is still clocking in as one of
    my favorite collections to date. I think the way I look at is not unlike
    looking at a crush. The first crush (or, if reciprocated and gone further,
    first love) seems to be irreplaceable. There was nothing like them before, and
    presumably nothing like them after — until the next thing comes along and the process
    starts all over. And sure, there have been some REALLY GREAT collections
    post-2010, but then again nothing truly does cure the memories of that first,
    unique love experience (I guess that goes for people, too, although I wouldn’t
    be entirely sure).

  • Tegan

    I feel this way about the Spring/Summer 2009 Balmain collection. Especially that green sequin dress. Now to finish my degree and become a power woman so I can buy things like that! Yahooo!

  • Pelin Onal

    Is that a coincidence that I can’t get out those collections (Balenciaga, Proenza Schouler and Versus) of my mind either. I mark the option of post-postmodern peak. No doubt how genius is Ghesquire and no doubt spring 2008 was his best collection for Balenciaga. Maybe it is because brands have more commercial anxiety. Economic concerns have impact on creativity.

  • Anna

    Your musings sound a lot like Roland Barthes when he theorizes this thing called the “punctum” in photography… Which, once stripped of its overtly n’ overly academic connotations, just means that THING about a visual work that is just so striking and makes the work WORK for you. Everyone’s punctums are different. Barthes describes it as a sting, a speck, cut, little hole, an “accident which pricks me.” For me, the Proenza Schouler collection you posted totally has punctum, but not every piece you posted has that level of punctum for me! What about Christopher Kane 2011 resort? Now thats got some punctum. And some seriously skinny models w/ grumpy punims.

  • lydia

    I think it’s amazing that all these pieces look like they could easily still appear in the pages of the current Vogue or appear on the runway. I love that fashion does the rounds and trends change, but that style truly does remain eternal.

  • Felicity

    That Proenza Schouler has stuck with me ever since I saw it at the time – THE COLOURS. So gorgeous. And The Balenciaga collection too.

    I find that some pieces stick with you, in the same way as a great song or book that you think about from time to time, years on. There was a beautiful Dior dress that was in a 2005 copy of Vogue that’ll stick in my mind forever. And a certain pair of outrageously over the top Louboutin shoes that my heart yearned for but my bank balance did not. But also, there has been a bit of a boring slump amongst certain fashion houses over the last few years and the runway editions of Vogue and Elle aren’t as exciting as they were to me at one point (yolo) – so I do know what you mean.

  • cleveng

    Women have a killer sense of dressing. However, they never underestimate the role played by an accessory as well,so does man.

    Your,can choose a nice dressing,it is skinny bootcut jeans.

  • ela’s world

    These are very nice!

  • Lucy Korn

    YES. Just so much yes.

  • flyingadolescent

    I agree that the best collections have a je ne sais quoi, something that speaks more to emotions than an intellectualisable thought. I think the Arthur Danto theory that Mattie emailed to you is , but instead of a new interpretation, there is just regurgitation. A select few (J.W. Anderson, Tom Ford, Miu Miu (again)) had a ‘punctum’ this season.

    A sidenote: The AW13 collections are already in magazines, and its 6 months until a hint of winter can be seen and 4 months until the clothes are in the shops. PLEASE, fashion, I know you’re fast, but this is ridiculous. Most of the campaigns have not even come out!