Paris, the city of lights and l’amour, concluded a gargantuan fashion month with a dramatic feast for all the senses. Paris fashion week was an optimistic reminder to those within the industry, those sleep deprived souls floating from hotel to hotel, country to county on why fashion matters – no, not looking at the deep stuff like politics and the economy -let’s take a break from all of that for a moment- but fashion: the sheer beauty and the pure magic of bringing clothing to life.
The Paris collections were defined by their memorable moments spanning much deeper than the display on our smartphones, but moments which seeped straight into our hearts. For example, there was Dries Van Noten’s 100th show which was a powerful retrospective of exactly why Dries has independently paved a name for himself thanks to genius colour experiments and unlikely patterns. His collection was worn by original 90s supermodels including Nadia Auerman and Amber Valleta who even decades after the pinnacle of their careers, look just as incredible as they did starting out.
Ending her tenure at Chloe after 6 years is Clare Waight Keller who presented a triumphant show focusing on sharp tailoring, a strong shoulder and a dropped waist in regards to the silhouette. Like Phoebe Philo and Stella McCartney, she too is a British female success story who added a worthwhile chapter to the maison. Her final bow was met with a standing ovation, after the finale of models strutting down the runway to the Human League’s “Don’t you Want Me?” A final sting. A moment representing the constant musical chairs like manner of designers being swapped from one house to another, designers coming and going like the ebb and flood. It is now Natacha Ramsay Levi up to bat.
Stability however was brought back at Balenciaga, where star designer and l’infant terrible Demna Gvasalia delivered his best show to date which celebrated it’s 100th anniversary. To celebrate the centurion year, the house reinstated its couture offering inspired directly from vintage Balenciaga. A glorious composition of heritage adapted to the present. Gvasalia, although aesthetically has pushed some buttons within and outside the industry with his ironic twist on street style, he has indeed changed the way we dress, making him a great designer. Designer of the year nonetheless and what we saw here was a creative who transformed traditional referencing into cutting edge design innovation – relevant to 2017. Commercially and creatively speaking, best show of the season if you ask me.
Completing my list of top 3 shows of the season include Undercover and Alexander McQueen. Both in very opposite ways brought a narrative to life, making us visualise more than just clothes. In the case of Undercover, we witnessed a utopian performance piece accompanied by a soundtrack created by Thom Yorke. Undercover designer Jun Takahashi Takahashi’s divided his collection into 10 segments. Segments separated by aristocrats, monarchy, soldiers, young rebels, and the clergy. The wearable art made you realise the uniforms of each social group and emphasised the act of ceremony, an idea also explored the day before by Rick Owens.
Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen on the other hand invited us to the traditions of Cornwall, the southernmost tip of the UK. Burton played on the medieval traditions of paganism and witchcraft, which still linger ever so subtly out in those ancient seaside towns, and directly referenced a Clootie tree, where passer-byers tie ribbons on it for wishes and mementoes. The whimsical Cornish influences providing an excellent contrast to an increasingly sterile and pixilated world.
Other powerful moments included the finale at Stella McCartney with the models dancing together and singing “FAITH!” for a joyous tribute to the late George Micheal. How nice to see a show again which was just feel good fun! Why should we take ourselves so seriously- life’s too short! A goosebumps catalyst was the actual location of Louis Vuitton, where Nicolas Ghesquiere secured the Louvre as the collection’s setting – a gig previously thought of as impossible. Unfortunately, the magnificent spellbinding sculptures seemed to overshadow a rather incoherent collection.
Of course one cant forget the moment when Anna Cleveland pattered around with twinkletoes at Comme de Garçons who made sense of non-fashion materials and redefined silhouettes. The show foreshadowed the occasion of the Met Ball, which will unveil and exhibition dedicated to Rei Kawakubo. And if a singular moment were to define the AW collections, it would surely be Chanel, where Karl Lagerfeld presented a collection truly out of this world: The collection was presented around a space rocket which for the grand finale was partially launched within the Grand Palais spewing sparks and all.
If there was something Paris told us, it was that fashion in 2017 is no longer dictated by trends.
Fashion today is about storytelling, building a clear brand identity and sticking to it. And how do you do that? By building a memorable fashion show letting your global audience experience your brand whether next to a launching rocket or on Snapchat. Each show was so different with no red thread linking together any form of unison. Editors today understand that it is no longer the trend which matters but it is the individual interpretation of a brand as well as how a creative director can tell communicate his or her message to their loyal followings by connecting through an emotional level.
In other words, no trend no problem, however if you have to pick up something as a “must- have” for next season it would surely include 1) Silver Glitter riding boots: a must we saw at Saint Laurent and Chanel 2) Leggings as trousers: Giambattista Valli made the impossible possible, combining our love of athleisure into high fashion and pairing a ruffled Parisian blouse with basic Nike leggings and for those risk takers out there 3) Carry-on luggage as Headwear: Why not follow a note from Maison Margiela and use that carry on bag as a hat? It might just get you through check in without those pesky additional fees 😉