Haute couture, or high dressmaking, refers to the art of creating exclusive, custom-fitted fashion for awfully rich women (and men). Couture is constructed by so called petites mains, the little hands of Parisian ateliers, who consider high quality, expensive textiles and extreme attention to detail as their priority. This long and exhausting definition of haute couture applies to all houses who have their exclusive lines working hard to satisfy their high-end customers; Vetements certainly doesn’t match this crowd.
When Demna Gvasalia‘s off-beat label appeared on the calendar of haute couture week in Paris, no one was sure what’s coming. At the beginning of this year, Vetements declared the change of their fashion show schedule, making it more “realistic” for them, and their customers; also, the brand, which is on everybody’s lips, decided to show womenswear and menswear in one show, just like few other brands lately. So, what did really happen during Vetements’ show, in the middle of Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad glamorama?
Vetements is known for eerie venues, but Galerie Lafayette can be named as one of the most surreal choices up to date. The runway was located along the aisles of cosmetics, perfumes and sales, letting other brands’ logos interact with the fashion collectives’ ready-to-wear. But the meaning of “collaboration” reached further than that – it was a collection made entirely with other brands, including Juicy Couture, Brioni, Schott, Levi’s, Comme des Garçons Shirt, Reebok, Canada Goose, Dr. Martens, Alpha Industries, Eastpak, Lucchesse, Mackintosh and even Manolo Blahnik. An extraordinary company equals an explosive effect. Moreover, brands listed above benefitted from this occasion – Juicy Couture’s velour track suits suddenly became ironically “cool” again, while Manolo was willing to go all the way with exaggerating his duchess satin stilettos. “We’ve done thigh-high, so we asked, could you go waist-high this time for us?” Demna said backstage with excitement. Brioni, Italian tailoring brand for men, which is currently revamped under Justin O’Shea’s wings, let Vetements elongate and recut their classical blazers; Eastpak, every travellers’ favourite producer of backpacks, contributed to creation of the first, Vetements clutch.
“We thought we’d go straight to the brands who make all these things best, and ask to do something in our way with each one,” Gvasalia said. “The people who work at Vetements don’t really wear designer fashion—a lot of these are the labels they wear all the time.” The collection, in overall, is pure Vetements, even though the denim is by Levi’s and boots are from Texas’ cult Lucchesse. Styling is raw, while all beauty cannons are thrown away to the trash, looking at the models. If you’re desperate to seek the most couture-ish part of the collection, then it’s Juicy Couture’s velvet eveningwear – sleek, hooded dresses with zircon embellishments are sexy and somewhat… huh, elegant. However, a “home-made” product at Vetements for SS17 is the granny-style floral dress (worn by Lotta Volkova, brand’s friend). ‘Antwerpen’ t-shirts and sweatshirts are back, too.
Calling this collection as “revolutionary” might sound like a cliché… but definitely it defines the new term: haute-collab.