Men’s – Harmonious Sublimity. Hed Mayner SS23

Hed Mayner‘s menswear collections are Paris Fashion Weeks’ moments of harmonious sublimity. In his notes, Mayner made it clear that he doesn’t do “overwrought statements of seasonal quirk.” Rather, season after season he revisits scaled-up proportions, honing them as a sculptor might. “I started by trying to build a silhouette that has a strong contact between front and back, and just being this two-dimensional look with a contrast,” the designer offered backstage of his spring-summer 2023 line-up. That translated into parkas, duffle coats, and jackets that looked straightforward enough from the front, until you caught the decadence of an open back. The comforts of home were the throughlines, with spoons repurposed into sculptural drop earrings and antique bed linens sourced from fleas in Paris and Tel Aviv that Mayner stonewashed, starched, and sewed into shirts. Though they were pretty, the designer said that poetry wasn’t his point. “I wanted to have elements that just look collected or found and applied on yourself, like diving into your sheets and staying there,” the designer said of a square-cut shirt in cotton embroidered with openwork garlands. Those tops and a slouchy-shouldered knit with trailing threads offered plenty of crossover appeal, though Mayner said such considerations were secondary to exploring proportions and, notably, stripping away notions of gender and status. Instead, he wanted to propose ideas of “clothes as accessories.” Even so, there were status contenders here. The midnight blue blouson springs to mind. So does a denim bomber. And, espectically, that one aviator jacket in delightful beige.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

NET-A-PORTER Limited

Take It Slow. Lemaire SS23

The Lemaire spring-summer 2023 presentation was a beautiful, harmonious scene. “It’s always nice to see people when they are in between things,” Christopher Lemaire said. “And people are very much themselves,” Sarah-Linh Tran added. Outside this presentation at the Musée des Arts et Métiers were clustered lots of fashion folk with no time to spare, waiting to go upstairs to see models in Lemaire acting as if they had time to kill. On the staircase a brace of male models idly swayed on their heels in top to toe monocolor stone, one wearing a crisp trench over full white pants in cotton and a split-upper slipper, the other a wide blouson over a collar-popped shirt and a multi-pleated silky pant with the same shoes. A female model in a culotte-integrating version of the outfits we’d just seen stood on the landing above. Up into the hall, there was a guy leaning on a window frame in brown blouson and work trousers with a bag strapped around his shoulder and a mini torch on his key fob. Across from him a woman in an interestingly halter-wrapped shirt and brown five pocket pants read a battered Luis Bunuel paperback. Further along another woman wore a dress and a guy wore a camp collar shirt that were both in the same hibiscus print. A female slept on a bench, warmed by the shafts of sunlight through the window, and cushioned by her softly blushing shirting and crisp cotton pants. A guy leant against a table in more pared down brown workwear reading Le Monde. At the end of the room, Ana Roxanne played mood music on multiple instruments and we saw more model groupings wearing super attractive printed pieces by the Indonesian artist Noviadi Angkasapura. This was a refreshingly straightforward collection that put the clothes on a pedestal of reality.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

NET-A-PORTER Limited

Being Dressed. Saint Laurent Pre-Fall 2022

I never gave up on being dressed, even when the trend was about sportswear,” says Saint Laurent’s Anthony Vaccarello of his pre-fall women’s collection, the until-now-unseen curtain raiser to his sublime and epic winter show, presented earlier this year. “I am glad that people want to dress up again, because for me nothing has changed.” Never let it be said that Vaccarello doesn’t have unerring instincts. When the rest of the world was letting it all hang out while being holed up at home, he was showing hyper-colored tweedy suits dripping with jewels on an icy tundra, or had marabou and pop-floral chiffon marching across a vast Sahara-like vista; big themes, big landscapes, big drama. In their way they were as much paeans to hope for the future as statements of intent about how you might want to dress in the present. Except change was to a degree part of the narrative: Vaccarello also took on board the prevailing desire for comfort and ease, he just didn’t do it in the obvious, cliched or un-YSL of ways; there were modern compact jerseys and fluid silks to move in and to feel free in. This pre-fall collection builds on that as much as planting the seeds for the aforementioned winter, which he describes as “lots of volumes, more rounded shapes, a bit of Art Deco, a bit ’90s and a bit of Poiret.” His trick is to take all of that and work it through some of the classic Saint Laurent-isms. The columnar line for evening that Yves loved so much now looks perfect for daytime, partnered with a tough belted leather jacket and an armful of bangles. The iconic le smoking also makes it to the other side of the dawn, as an eased up suit, a cape, or a sharp-shouldered coat. Those are just some of the strong outerwear statements on show here: oversized faux furs, cozily chic but with a casual flick-the-collar-up attitude; voluminous-shouldered cocoon coats and nifty leather trenches thrown over some particularly ravishing slithery lingerie slip dresses, a hint of romanticism given by their guipure or frothy lace edges. Finishing all this off: stretch velvet high-heeled boots; gilt-trimmed square-toed pumps; and frame topped handbags. Magnifique.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

NET-A-PORTER Limited

Love Yourself. Mugler SS22

For spring-summer 2022, Casey Cadwallader reunited with Torso Solutions for the final installment of a trilogy of Mugler fashion films. Filmed in Los Angeles, the mind-bending video features a variety of vignettes that blend trippy glitches with the Mugler fierceness. There’s Megan Thee Stallion on a billboard; Chloë Sevigny doing a dip and turning into Barbie Swaee; Shalom Harlow and Amber Valletta sharing a kiss; and two Bella Hadids. He also recently co-directed a music video for Megan and dressed Sevigny for her wedding after-party, both of which came about, he says, after working on this video. Four years on, Cadwallader has settled in. “In the beginning I was very serious and worried about everything, but there’s this need to be irreverent with Mugler,” he says. He’s leaning into that irreverence, and the video captures it by balancing irony and seriousness in a URL-era continuation of the shows Mr. Mugler put on. Less runway, more performance.

The collection is a strong exploration of his signature elements. Ombre body-con dresses suspended from sculpted collars referencing a 1998 haute couture dress feel fresh and directional. The denim is sharper and more aligned with Cadwallader’s shapewear, partly due to the transparency of the house’s “illusion tulle.” The fabric is a riff on Mr. Mugler’s segmented tailoring, which he made with fishing line. It has replaced Lycra in the denim and is being applied to the bodysuits. “This is the most bare collection I’ve done,” Cadwallader said with a laugh. “After this I’m going to dial it in a little bit.” A tied tailored jacket stands out. It can be worn criss-crossed or with the lapels pulled apart, as styled on Dominique Jackson. Versatility is something he makes a point of. “Not only is there a variety of people in the world, but there’s a variety within each person,” he said. “One can feel like they want to flaunt themselves at 10 p.m. and feel conservative at 10 a.m., or feel masculine at 10 a.m. and feminine at 10 p.m. I want to make clothes that can serve that.” The bareness might make his clothes feel niche, as if they were made exclusively for the stages they’re often seen on, but it’s this what makes them special. Who doesn’t want to feel like a pop star, at least part of the time? In today’s saturated market, niche is a great place to be. Cadwallader said he’s aware of the critique that “things look the same” in his collections. “But that’s what a signature is!” he said, laughing. “Everything is evolving over time and eventually we’ll work into more things.” As to what those will be, only he knows, but he said he’s “ready for some volume.” Also, he’s already thinking about his next video. “At a show you have, say, 500 people, but these videos…10 million people see them.” Social media has become key for fashion conversations, and with this format Mugler has leveled show-going editors and at-home spectators. “There’s this entertainment value and joy-giving to people that I don’t want to give up on. I feel a commitment to that now, so to bring it back to a closed room and keep people out is not an option for me.”

Collages by Edward Kanarecki.

NET-A-PORTER Limited

Tabula Rasa. Chloé Resort 2023

To create a responsible brand in the 2020s entails more than choosing sustainable materials and cutting down on manufacturing and shipping costs. As Gabriela Hearst, the creative director of Chloé sees it, building awareness into the marketing plan is part of the process. “The problems fashion has are the problems that all industries have,” she said. “The world’s energy supply is 85% from fossil fuels, and if we don’t eliminate that situation we’re really walking into suicide. All these alternate energy sources – wind power, solar panels – don’t have the capacity.” Fusion, Hearst explained, could make up the difference as we wean ourselves off of oil. “In a nutshell,” she said, “fusion is how stars are made. It’s the energy that moves the universe.” She promised “a much bigger experience of it,” at the Paris show in September. Here, the fusion lesson consisted of broderie anglaise and laser cut leather in the form of stars and a night sky palette of strictly black and white, save for a single red dress with a scoop neck and full poet sleeves. She credited Joel Cohen’s recent adaptation of The Tragedy of Macbeth for the corset shape of dresses accented with knotted leatherwork evocative of medieval chainmail, and leather jackets and vests patchwork paneled like armor. The novelties this season were twofold. First, she collaborated with Barbour, the British outerwear company renowned for its waxed jackets, on a trench ruffles details and on a poncho, a shape she has a soft spot for. The denim corset dress, duster coat, button-front vest, and a-line skirt are the results of a project Hearst dreamed up with the California jeans expert Adriano Goldschmeid. They’re composed of 87% recycled cotton and 13% hemp; that’s an earth-friendly equation. The only thing that Heart could work on – and that’s something she started last season – is her aesthetical direction for Chloé. Should this brand really be all about minimalism? Monastic and prim? There’s no need for another Jil Sander or The Row.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

NET-A-PORTER Limited