St. John didn't wow me with this season's couture or classic collection. It wasn't bad, just more of the same. The knit cotourier has evolved into being a wardrobe staple of the affluent women with classic, modest and sophisticated tastes. With that said, the label maybe suffering an identity crisis.
Over the past few years there has been a somewhat obvious attempt to attract a younger, trendier, monied crowd by injecting high-fashion into the usual frame work of business seperates and demure knee-length dresses. They also chose Angelina Jolie as a spokes model. Admittedly some of their creations were quite pleasing to my younger sensitivities; short shift dresses in elegant silver beaded knit, diaphanous fabrics paired with tweedy knit, sexy tapered blazers cuffed in butter leather. But I wondered, how long can they keep this up?
While flirting with the mainstream may yield an immaculate creation, or few, it deters from what has made St. John a classic over the years and the reason why my mother has constructed an entirely new wardrobe just to house her enormous collection. St. John sticks with simple lines that flatter most body-types and age groups (though one must be fit to don the knit!) and plays with the details such as color, beading, exquisite buttons and metal belts. St. John is interchangeable. You can wear the red jacket from Fall 2007 with the black kick pleat skirt from Fall 2002 and look fabulous. It is a wardrobe, that like a woman, grows better with time. And St. John is ever appropriate. For business, it says "established". For after-five, is says classy and timeless. For evening it says decadent elegance. Expensive yes, but worth every penny.
Somethings need not be trendy. Everyone wants to cater to the young. Young people are so fickle. Why not cater to the wise?
Just like the floriental trend in perfumes... Houses responsible for perfume classics such as House of Guerlain, Dior, and Chanel preoccupy themselves with keeping up with the young... catering to their whims of sex and instant gratification. Perfumes that say come hither at first whiff. Well I like perfumes that were made in the seventies and eighties, and even in first 30 years of the 20th century, perfumes you may find on your mother's and your grandmother's vanity. These perfumes are complex. They tell stories of seduction. They begin aloof and warm up into a sensual honied dry down. They don't announce their intentions to attract. They insinuate. They plant haunting seeds of love. They mystify those in the wearer's path. It is this sort of clever restraint, the kind that is timeless, but not necessarily en vogue, that only a wise woman knows.
A classic St. John piece maintains this restraint. It is feminine, sophisticated, and while it may not flag attention from across the room, up-close the exquisite detailing speaks volumes about its wearers refined pallette. It is much like a classic perfume. There is no need tampering with original ingredients or re-issuing the "light" version for the younger generation (Yes, Shalimar, I'm talking to you!).
And with that said, I believe that St. John may be, slowly, returning to its roots. Having dallied in the fickle high-fashion, it has retained a daring silhoutte or two, but is settling back to its glamorous, classic roots. Thank you St. John. It is what your core consumers want. Let us twenty-somethings wait to wear St. John (though, thanks to mom, I had my own cotoure piece at age 21.... sort of a rite of passage). Let it be a priviledge.
This year's evening collection speaks to the points I have made. Clean lines. Vibrant glamour. Glorious details. It is reminiscent of late seventies Halston designs. Bold. Sexy. Elegant. Demure. Here are a few of my favorite pieces. To purchase, visit a flagship store near you or visit the website.
-flyness and funk,