LEONARD AUTUMN/WINTER 2015-16 READY-TO-WEAR PARIS FASHION WEEK
This latest installment from Leonard began with two white looks, as if artistic director Yiqing Yin was painting over last season’s prints before introducing new ones. Look closely at both coats and you’ll notice their “elephant skin” texture; in fact, this was the result of printing—only instead of polychrome ink that sets into the fabric, this heat technique results in a puffed effect. It represented just one of the complex processes that Yin employed to achieve the brand ideal of relevance and respect. Another one of note: silk georgette printed both before and after pleating so that the unexposed creases produced a dynamic pattern contrast. Tapestry panels transformed sweatshirt tops into basics with an artisanal edge; and when that same woven pattern was left unfinished to cascade like fringe on a cape or skirt, it showed how concertedly and successfully the atelier has been developing points of difference.
Despite all the workmanship, Leonard still seems to wrestle with its positioning. Seated in several sections along the front row were Parisian couples of a certain established mien who have likely been supporting the venerable, print-focused brand since they were newlyweds. Yet a significant percentage of Yin’s silhouettes skewed unapologetically young, from bell-shaped miniskirts to jumpsuit shorts and cropped cabans. The final look, a short, printed dress finely quilted in concentric rings, took its cue from the ski slopes: For the girl who goes on art crawls to get noticed, it’s a winner. But what if, during this modernizing moment, Leonard alienates too many longtime customers—you know, the ones actually buying the art?