Code:Mode Spring 2011 Runway Reviews, Part Two

Heather O'Brien on La Femme Mimi, Tranquillo, Valevská, Basmatee and The Birthday Suit

Here's part two of my Code:Mode runway review, taking a look at the remaining five designers that showed on Saturday evening. Once again, some were great and some were a total flop. (You can find part one here.)

La Femme Mimi
Wishing for something new

I had written about La Femme Mimi in February when I did a spotlight on her lovely little Štěpánská boutique. I found many great Czech designers there. It's where I stumbled upon Jane Bond, but I left her store not completely sold on all of her own designs. I had hopes that this fashion show would end this flip-flopping for me once and for all; that I would leave excited and ready to return to her boutique to place my orders. I was hoping for a catchy fashion show, one where we could see the true talent behind the designer. Alas, such an occasion did not present itself and it is with much disappointment that I write this review.

With Björk playing in the background, Asian models with traditional Vietnamese masks made of straw drifted down the runway in a mix of brightly colored silk dresses with appliquéd belts. Perhaps if this was my first time ever seeing these dresses I would be more enthusiastic than I was. It was not the first time, as I had seen them on many blogs and Facebook postings going back as far as December 2010 and, sadly, they were already in the store. I know that she is a talented designer, but I suppose I was expecting something a bit more... spunky. On the whole, the three minutes were long and pretty boring, but the dresses were quite pretty, which made it not a total fail.

What Burning Man would look like if it produced a fashion show

(Huge Sigh) I am not really sure where to begin here. The music started and the models came out dancing, which is fine since it brings up sensory reminders of crazy Betsey Johnson shows in the early '90s! But one of the models was a substantially better dancer than her catwalk counterpart and it made them look, well, a bit ridiculous. The music was upbeat, but the dancing was like something you would see at a hippie commune, with yoga moves to match.

So, now that I have dissected their stage performance let's move onto the clothes: it's a hard color to wear, chartreuse, and it was everywhere. Honestly, there are five people in the entire world that can wear this color, and Tranquillo's models were not one of these five -- please, no more chartreuse! Some colors that did work were the jewel-toned colors like purple and green, as well as earthy browns and grays. The cuts were nothing original and were your standard Czech fare. Colored tights with orthopedic shoes were, I am sure, comfortable but you want people to buy your clothes, not run away from them! Yoga models took forever to walk down the runway and about three minutes after they had begun, with countless girls still waiting to walk, the music stopped and the show was finished. I have to admit I was happy and most of the people around me felt the same.

Comfortable, chic clothing

When you first see Lenka Valevská's clothes you become fully aware of all of the reasons you love being a woman or, if you are a man, like looking at women. You also become fully aware that the heels that seemed like such a good idea when you started your day have now become like little nails poking into your foot. (It was 40 minutes into the fashion show and we were standing.)

The mood was somber and a bit melancholy, but the clothes looked like they were executed and tailored well. You could tell she had a vision and one that was matched in all areas of aesthetics (lighting, clothing, music, models' looks, etc). She is one designer whose work I am really looking forward to seeing more of!

Gets quirky, eco-friendly and innocuous

I have to admit that I liked these street clothes the best! The show opened with two girls walking down the catwalk and placing beautiful narcissuses at the end of the runway. Then, one by one, the models (both men and women) Sunday-strolled down the runway carrying assorted gardening equipment. Once they reached the end of the runway, they would do some sort of little dance that involved shaking their bums and then strut back to change into the next outfit. The show was clever and well thought-out. It was fun, enthusiastic and enjoyable. The clothes fit the models, the models looked happy to wear them, and the show did its job -- it got my attention and made me want to visit their store.

The Birthday Suit
Making Russian matryoshka dolls cool

I had seen these T-shirts at design shows around Prague for the last six months or so. They're screen-printed, and I think we all know how I feel about that, but it's a clever idea so I was willing to give it a chance. The fashion show was upbeat and had great music. The models, both men and women, looked happy to be on stage, but it was a bit more serious than I was expecting. (I suppose it's hard to take yourself too seriously when you are wearing a matryoshka on your shirt. Some featured pictures of sailors and leopard prints and others had Karl Lagerfeld's face plastered on them.

So, all in all, I was quite happy with the shows I saw at Code:Mode Spring 2011. I think a lot of designers put a lot of hard work and effort into their presentations and I appreciate that. The goal of a show is marketing -- that's it. It's like a big store-window where everyone can see your product and, just like everywhere else in the world, some stores have mind-blowing window displays and others just disappear. I am looking forward to the next Code:Mode in the autumn. Now I have to track down all of the designers that I found inspirational and talented and begin the interview process so we can all get to know them a bit better!

If you are interested in seeing the shows, but couldn't make it to Code:Mode yourself, the videos are below!

Video on YouTube

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