Here’s The Knockturnal review of Moncler Grenoble Fall/Winter 2017, held at Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC. A star-and snow-studded event indeed.
Moncler Grenoble always puts on an… expressive show. It has a long history of unique themes and this one, called “Winter Palace”, was no different. Last year’s winter show was particularly authentic, held amid the blistering cold of a polar vortex (don’t ask), an outdoor show on the grounds of Lincoln Center plaza, where the only people not freezing were the models themselves, warm and cozy in military-inspired looks. This year was a bit more safe (see: indoors), held at the uniquely grand-while-intimate Hammerstein Ballroom in midtown west, a grand scene of soaring curtains and chandeliers.
A vibrant set of half ice rink, half ballroom set for dinner in all white was presented with a harp playing a soft and elegant melody. But what was to transpire was all the while a bit unexpected and, for lack of better word, adventurous. To see Derek Blasberg (Vanity Fair, others) emcee a “Winter Palace Ball” is an extraordinary sight in its own right, but when the music switched from harp to saxophone and models in very charming off-white hooded cloaks disrobed to reveal apparently classic Moncler wares, it suddenly felt like the poshest, most self-absorbed après ski in the Alps, complete with German soft rock hits of the 80s, surely too cheesy to be actually taken seriously.
An extremely jarring mix of patterns and textures, a good helping of fur made it felt less like a ball and an audition for most… concerning… look. Models and looks were grouped into “houses”, perhaps the ski-set equivalent to the “houses” in drag culture, with each group serving a different approach to bundling up in the winter weather. It brought some semblance of organization to a highly varied event, houses ranging from woodsy, classically Alpine looks with chunky wool and cashmere to the modern jetset dame (think Hepburn in “Charade“), to the very modern group that clings to patterned leggings in plaid and houndstooth in interesting colors like bone, taupe, and vanilla.
The pleasure of this show was in the details. A belt cinched tight high on the waist, the sport jackets, surely warm enough for the steepest, highest slopes, done in plaid and solids and even grandmother’s-sofa-floral, added a vintage element to otherwise high-tech gear. Oversized shearling mittens (one pair reaching the elbows), muffs or beanie hats completed many looks. Layering was the name of the game (it’s winter), but capes made a solid appearance in hunter and moss, giving us fever dreams of crossing a snowy Austrian mountain with seven children in tow…
Wide-legged pants and enormous fur hats (a Moncler signature by now) gave a point of reference that reminded viewers they were indeed watching a Moncler Grenoble show, not a sitcom set in Megève (no matter what you think, diamond-pattern shirting paired with pink, white, and blue herringbone plaid looks was bad is it sounds). More restrained was the knit sweaters in delicious navy blue with red and white detail stitching, a simple ball cap in a wide-check green and red pattern. Mind you, the amid all of this, the Maya (see: plastic-esque puffer jacket), was fully present, appearing here in vibrant yellow, pine green, and most satisfyingly, a light robin’s egg blue. Scale was toyed with here, seeing the jacket poked, pulled, and stretched in new ways. One of the finest looks was none other than a small and simple repeating rose pattern in vanilla fabric, both pants and a coat fastened at the waist, letting the wearer sprout from the cozy ensemble in a petit and truly pleasant manner, a gentile quality not typical of luxury-tinged rough-and-tumble Moncler.
Finally, after all the houses were opened and the jarring German middle-aged nostalgia music went away, pairs of windy dancers had a grand waltz to a Strauss piece that played off the show. (This, if you didn’t know, is the new final walk, as it lasted long enough for everyone to snap the essential social media shot.) It made sense. It lasted longer than I was there, making the show feel longer than it was. For Moncler, this was a success. It brought new variations to some iconic pieces, and a sense of adventure to a brand that seems like could’ve gone on one too many.