“Midsummer Nights Dream” at Basil Soda Couture Collection 2012/13
Tuesday, July 3rd
Couvent des Cordleiers
15, rue des ecoles des Medicines,
By Pikke Allen
Entering the world of Basil Soda, you are first taken inside a spacious gothic setting complete with the spare details of a catholic school church where his magical world. The high ceilings and pillars of the spiritual space are lit with deep spotlights that open like doorways to the first look as it comes down the runway. The first set of models are otherworldly, and in keeping with the theme of magical winter, Basil's forest color palette is much like a Shakespeare play taking place in the deep woods outside civilization. We are invited, to participate in this beautiful world, as these gowns are something truly spectacular as each one unfolded in a series of looks that were more beautiful then the last.
Here, the creatures float or stalk the aisle like elegant wood nymphs, dressed in gowns made of transparent structures, each with a thematic idea that belies their lightness of construction. The shapes are tall and elegant; narrow bodices and sweeping skirts whirl as the girls turn the corners; their legs and nude bodies are covered with hints of embroidery, tassels, beaded patches of jewels and finery that make couture what it should always be: Beautifully constructed and artistic with a level of workmanship that lifts it beyond everyday experiences. The models were simply coiffed in feminine chignons and simple red lips; the look of complexity of the gowns needed to be balanced by unstudied beauty and unfussy hair; just a hint of lipstick and a quick bobby pin or two…and they are ready for an evening out. As the show progressed, the looks went from gliding along the carpet to more funky and edgy as the same theme was worked through the shorter versions of the gowns with more aggressive personalities. All the girls wore sky-high ankle wedges to keep the looks earthbound, but the sheer transparent gowns still floated above it all, waiting to land in some extraordinary event, or grand entrance in the future.
Basil Soda is very clear in his vision: to make a women feel like rare and gorgeous creatures using an array of laces, spangles and illusion fabrics as the foundation that he builds on top of in a variety of ways such as floral, sprays, chevrons, overlays, beading and appliqués or fringe. Skirts and trains are constructed to flow along the floor and sweep around the models as they turn the corners. Bodices are transparent, hiding yet revealing the mysteries beneath. Seams that are created to both add structure, but also move the eye along the surface towards the rewards of trims, jewels, beading and tassels. There is not one area on a Basil Soda gown that has not been thought of in very careful steps, each section has a purpose and that is to both entice and hide at the same time. The range of colors from a spectacular Coral orange, to the soft earth toned greens; bronzes and the required black were very successful. I was hoping for a wider range of tones in the mid-range of this palette; nudes, grays or ghost-like browns, to fill out the quieter side of the forest landscape that he has painted for us. One gown had “leaves” carefully overlaid on its skirt and bodice to remind us that indeed, these “creatures” were part of the magical forest landscape. The art of couture, is the art form we are led to believe, each hand stitched detail bringing the level of workmanship in these gowns to its highest level. Basil Soda clearly loves women and worships many personalities such as the stronger pieces that were laden with “burlesque” trims like fringe and tassels, to the quieter beaded overlays and satin stripings that were bit more elegant and “quieter” in their conception.
The gowns are diaphanous, and sheer, so the average woman might be intimidated by their transparency with some models literally “baring all” on the runway. The idea of the show was to create a mood, a moment in time when “illusion is reality, reality is illusion”. But, no matter, a hint of crème or nude lining can quickly fix that little issue and the gowns can go directly onto the red carpet and bear up under the flash-bulb pops of the paparazzi when paired with an extraordinary “Hollywood” personality who can make the look their own. Perhaps for the rest of us, who don’t live in this magical forest, we can, just for a moment, imagine or be inspired by the vision of the unique artist. For most of us the “winter” conjures up cold or harsh images, but here, in Basil’s world, the magic and wonder of the inner circles of this world, is green, lush and filled with magical forest creatures.