I'm glad that the Dressed up for Summer videos gave some of you some much-needed fashion chuckle time but despite all of the little spoofs and skits that Mademoiselle Agn√®s gets up to, at the core of it, serious points about fashion are being raised and in that particular series, she does try to question and answer in some part "Where are the next generation of French designers?". My favourite parts of those videos were probably the bits where she takes up this quest, going round all the showrooms, tradeshows etc and investigating the new generation (BIG UP Anthony Vaccarello who was also featured, albeit his jacket and swimsuits were given more credit than his 'discourse'). Like I said, it's all very deja-vu-ey for me as I too went traipsing around the Marais hunting out all the showrooms but one I did miss was Heal.
I wrote about Heal last season when they made a very sculptural start that involved a certain lobster dress that made a most striking talking point. From Mademoiselle Agn√®s's show, I learnt that Heal apparently had lost sponsorship for S/S 10 which may go some way to explaining why for S/S 10 they have considerably toned down the amount of handiwork that makes dresses cost around the ¬£1500 mark. Or perhaps they are consciously going for a more commercial collection that will help them with the buyers and you can't get much more commercial-friendly than stripes. Yarsh. New French label. Does stripes. It's a win-win situation!
Without meaning to diminish Heal's stripes though, they haven't just ploughed through a French cliche and bunged some Breton stripe on some tees. They are a gradiated watercolour stripe and they are just one element of an entire collection which altogether makes me think Heal are trying to put some technicolour into early 20th century swimwear and bathing suits.
The illustrations that Alice, one half of Heal is reponsible for, still features heavily on the pieces, as well as their investigation into attractive exo-skeletons. However, the shapes that Heal have created for S/S 10 combined with the warped op-art stripes makes me think of a revved up version of the bathing suits of yesteryear. There's also an element that reminds m of Louise Goldin's juicy S/S 08 collection except with less emphasis on knitwear and more on sculpted shapes as well as tropical motifs that be seen in the piped shells and banana leaf applique. All in all, Heal may be down on moolah for the season but they've made a go of contributing to a) the new wave of French designers and b) the activewear reinvention and reinterpretation that S/S 10 is full of.