From Paris: You Have to Earn The Right to Be Tacky

Amelia reviews Nina Ricci and Vivienne Westwood

03.05.17

I love things that are tacky. Good-tacky, like the pink dress (same hue as the ear of a stuffed Easter Rabbit) with a thick, Dolly Parton belt and keyhole-shaped chest cutout on Guillaume Henry’s runway for Nina Ricci, or the peach-colored fuzz coat and set of two, giant, navy shoulders from the same lineup — parts of a collection that was, in whole, so elegant and far from garish that these bits of bubblegum were treats.

Bless this man for the way he thinks: “We’re going to need a checked mustard suit. Fat yellow stars — but only for a couple of looks.” [Either he or his assistant is scribbling furiously.] “One model will wear head-to-toe blue! Light denim from collar to foot and a turquoise coat over with leather lapels…and then pink. We’ll end on pink.” It’s as though he exposed a few smatterings of guilty pleasures in his head but hardly felt guilty about any of them. There’s an art to this balance.

You have to earn the Good Tacky seal. The same way painters who put eyeballs where arms belong earned their stripes years before by sketching realistic still lifes, designers who do strange things and get away with it long ago proved that they’ve got what it takes to make clothes people either want to buy or want to worship — like Vivienne Westwood. She’s an icon in her own right, mother designer for punk rockers who are likely now themselves mothers. At her show, she not only walked in a look (I mean, she sauntered), she did it twice. Watch a young New York designer do this then scan the room for wide eyes. Vivienne Westwood’s collection was exactly what you want it to be: wacky, wild, conceptual (literal trash worked into the hair-dos), unwearable for most people…but if you buy Vivienne Westwood, you don’t want to be most people, do you? Same thing with that Nina Ricci pink dress: not everyone’s cup of tea, sewn for the bare and brave-hearted.

Photos via Vogue Runway; feature image by Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho via Getty Images.

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