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Mirror Palais' Collection V at NYFW: An Eternal Celebration of Femininity

@MirrorPalais via Instagram Courtesy of Anafer Flores

Mirror Palais' Spring/Summer 2024 collection, entitled "Collection V: The Return of Glamour," transports viewers on a blush-colored, kaleidoscopic journey spanning iconic eras of womenswear, embracing a more inclusive, triumphant, and radically glamorous perspective on femininity. The collection, unveiled at New York Fashion Week (NYFW) in early September, contained 30 distinct looks with pieces exquisitely displaying the renowned tailoring of Mirror Palais clothing—each one more flattering than the next. This collection also stands as testimony to the creative brilliance of the label's founder, owner, and designer Marcelo Gaia. Delicate draped fabrics flowed down the runway in a dance of muted, nude colors, dramatic makeup and just enough lace, velvet, tulle, and trim to do the trick. These visuals were set against a backdrop that felt like it belonged more in an 18th-century Victorian villa, or an Old Hollywood starlet's estate, than an aesthetic escape right off the streets of Manhattan. The intimate space, abounding with antique chandeliers and dreamy nostalgia, is only one piece of a carefully-curated ambiance that is quintessential to the Mirror Palais aesthetic and to Gaia’s "vision of timeless elegance."

Ella Snyder, one of today's most well-known models, set the tone of the show as she opened with a fierce and sexy strut. Snyder wore an all-black ensemble featuring a velvet ribbon-ribbed bandeau top with a wide neckline and an adorable drop-waist, poofy satin skirt. The top was adorned with a brooch that doubled as a necklace, and the look was finished with a statement, black feathered hat—channeling 90's-grunge-meets-Marie-Antoinette. Other note-worthy looks included a blush strapless dress with a tiered tulle skirt and ribbon choker (Look 3); multiple gorgeous variations of a white maxi dress—in lined cotton, pintuck lace, or dewy satin—topped with a towering hat reminiscent of Hepburn's 50s it-girl chic (Looks 13, 15); a cream, strapless silk gown with a structured waist and a billowing eight-tiered skirt, accessorized with a glamorous feather éventail (Look 20); finally, a tan bustier and midi skirt set, featuring over the top, lace-up accents on each side (Look 22).

Courtesy of Mirror Palais

The show culminated with a final round-up of luxurious gowns and incredibly detailed ensembles. A bustier gown with an elegant train made with completely sheer fabric decorated with black polka dots (Look 27). A corseted, floor-sweeping dress created from a gorgeous blush-pink pinstripe fabric that looks like it was pulled right out of a French woman's boudoir, with lace-up accents and no less than 480 grommets (Look 28). Finally, an elegant satin and silk ball gown with an 18th-century enlarged skirt silhouette, alluding to Mirror Palais' bridal collection that dropped last year. The darling names of certain pieces, which Gaia revealed throughout a stream of detailed post-show Instagram story content, evoke how extensively the collection explores the historical evolution of women's fashion. Name inspiration spans iconic feminine fashions from ancient history to the American 20th century: from Venus, the Roman goddess of love and desire alluded to in the "Birth of Venus Gown," to the "Hellenistic Gown," from "Daisy Buchanan" to "Audrey Hepburn"—both eponymous dress ensembles. Gaia expressed how iconic femme fatale starlets such as Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, and Rita Hayworth, and their performances as "turn of the century women," remained the driving inspirational force behind his collection. And Gaia's meticulous round-up of runway models represent how a return to this by-gone era of glamor must encompass a wider range of women's faces, bodies, and perspectives: the show featured a relatively diverse set of models of different ethnicities, body types, and feminine gender identities, the kind of representation and inclusivity that, while notable in fashion spaces, seems rarely commendable in most areas of society. Nonetheless, given the spotlight, these women represent a democratization of glamor and of an aesthetic that was once reserved to such an elite group of women, anchoring this nostalgic aesthetic into the contemporary cultural arena. The collection's very genius lies in its ability to strike a keen balance between odes to shapes and styles of historical and cultural significance and modern riffs and references that cement the pieces in today's feminine high fashion landscape.

Courtesy of Mirror Palais

This was Mirror Palais' highly-anticipated second runway collection, preceded only by "Collection IV: The Virgin, The Princess, & The Siren," which gained incredible internet attention and cemented the label's success, whose official instagram account, @mirrorpalais, now boasts well over half a million followers. In the age of the internet brand, fueled by it-girl endorsements and viral social media posts, Mirror Palais stands strongly as one of the industry's most successful cases, alongside the likes of Sandy Liang, and to a lesser extent, Orseund Iris, Danielle Guizio, and Poster Girl. However, Mirror Palais distinguishes its brand through an authentic and thoughtful social media presence, including sumptuous promotional iconography and behind-the-scenes footage offering curious souls a glimpse into the world of runways and fashion design. A few weeks after the show, Gaia took to Instagram to unveil Collection V's beautiful photography campaign shot on 35mm film in the dreamiest, antique-filled Hollywood home and featuring model Lauren Fern, a classic Mirror Palais muse. Gaia also utilizes social media as a tool to advocate for greater cost transparency and inclusivity in fashion spaces and a vulnerable space to discuss the anxieties and toxic pressures that creatives face in the field.

Compared to its predecessor Collection IV—which drew on conceptual inspiration of mythical women temptresses and delved deep into Gaia's maternally-inherited Catholic culture—Collection V marks a turning point in Mirror Palais' creative direction. The brand seems to be steering clear of trend cycles in favor of a more understated and sophisticated look, while remaining fresh, innovative and outrageously feminine. Collection V plays with the balance between old and new, vintage and modern through the myriad of arts and culture references vested in the pieces themselves, through the shape and cut of fabrics, and vintage accessorizing. This collection echoes contemporary trends such as camp-ified girlhood (think coquette and ballet-core aesthetics: pink, ribbons, and bows galore) in a way that feels just current enough while straying away from being too on-the-nose. Above all, Collection V is an expression of femininity and all the mesmerizing forms it can take.

Courtesy of Mirror Palais

Mirror Palais' move towards a simpler and more understated aesthetic is not, however, an isolated incident but rather clear evidence that this upcoming spring and summer will be the season of simplicity. A revival of the minimalist aesthetic (very much reminiscent of the 90's heralded minimalism), achieved through mono-colored garments, muted colors, and dyed (rather than printed) fabrics, simple or sometimes even strict cut, is a pattern which emerged across the board this Fashion Week season. We saw this from New York to Milan to Paris and from the “Old Masters” fashion houses (such as Gucci, Versace, Ralph Lauren) to newer industry stand-outs (like Loewe, JW Andersen). The pieces displayed on the runways favored shape, figure, and the innate features of the textiles themselves over in-your-face and excessive design and styles. Arguably, the trend's sole (but staunch) opponent, the ever-contrarian Moschino and their call for "Loud Luxury," seems to be the exception that proves the rule and only further echoes the industry's shift to simplicity over excess. Gaia takes a similar approach with "The Return of Glamour," and invites us all to let the clothing and the fabrics speak for themselves.

Through its celebration of femininity, Mirror Palais' "The Return of Glamour" evokes a nostalgic return to another era in history and infuses the narrative with greater inclusivity and tongue-in-cheek whimsy and light-heartedness. It explores the greater ties between the worlds of art, history, and, most importantly, the world of women, as the latter has often lived in the margins of the former. As the title suggests, the collection calls for a return to a more sophisticated, chic and eternal expression of what is feminine. Gaia invites us all to indulge in "something light-hearted and glamorous," in a kind of l'art-pour-l'art luxury and excess. In the context of the brand's move towards a more understated, less maximalist aesthetic, the collection makes an implicit yet assertive statement in favor of straying away from fleeting, mainstream micro-trends, and the throw-away culture they encourage. And through its indulgent excessiveness, it calls for a greater cultural shift on how we view what counts as "feminine expression" today and who is allowed to partake in its celebration in order to relieve some of the excruciating pressure placed on women to constantly conform, perform, and reinvent themselves.


Camille Kelly is a sophomore in the College double majoring in English and Justice & Peace Studies and minoring in Art History (tentatively). She is the Design Assistant at the INDY.


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