Back To The 1980s. Junya Watanabe SS23

The three Comme Des Garçons brands have finally returned to the Parisian schedule: Junya Watanabe, Noir Kei Ninomiya and CDG itself. Lately, Watanabe loves a theme to stick with for an entire season, so for spring-summer 2023 we went back to 1980s. The familiar flashing camera sounds of Duran Duran’s hit “Girls on Film” kicked in and a pair of New Romantic kids emerged from the side of the runway, their hair crimped into mohawks and wedges and their makeup airbrushed on like a Patrick Nagel portrait. All of that was enriched with Junya’s signature codes, from deconstructed tailoring to the punk-rock badassery of chains and pearls. Those first two looks set the silhouette: wide, very-1980s-shouldered capes and a skinny leg punctuated by a sharp-toed boot dressed up with those chains and pearls. Some of the capes were caught by a belt in the front or cut like a trad two-button blazer, but turn them around and it was a different story: all swagger and sweeping shapes, punctuated by fabric selvedge. Shirting got the Junya treatment too; split personality button-downs were well fit on one side and unstructured on the other, a clutch of pearls holding them in place, while pleated shirtdresses came in Klaus Nomi–ish inverted triangles. About those pearls: they were worn as necklaces and integrated into garments, almost like belts, creating the kind of askew volumes Watanabe likes. He seemed to be making a case for more glamour and more drama, but without disconnecting from the realities of daily life. The jeans, whose upturned cuffs revealed a flash of red tartan, were made with Levi’s, and the color-blocked and patchwork jackets came together with Komine, a Japanese racing-gear maker.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Vivacious. Paco Rabanne AW22

Although Paco Rabanne‘s autumn-winter 2022 isn’t officially couture, it was a suitable start of the Parisian week of haute fashion. Julien Dossena continues to expand his vocabulary for the brand, temporarily leaving behind Rabanne’s heritage chain-mail and digging into personal obsessions. Designers have been doing collections about our hankering for the human touch since Covid set in, but this collection went beyond that. “I wanted it to be conceptual in a sensorial way and not in an intellectual way,” the designer said, stripping his proverbial mood board of any reference that wasn’t about texture or volume. In a (sort of) post-pandemic world where escapism is at an all-time high, focusing so exclusively on here-and-now things like design and fabrication was practically confrontational to the human mind. “The abstract volumes came from the couture register,” Dossena said, referring to the sculptural form language associated with classic haute couture. “But super short, a bit extreme, with really cinched waists, and mixing it with knitwear to make it more, let’s say, contemporary.” On paper, that procedure sounded pretty 1980s, and many of the looks could have been hyper-takes on the decade’s vivacious silhouette. Think Nan Kempner’s style whenever she arrived to Paris. This collection also felt very Balenciaga-by-Nicolas-Ghesquiere, especially autumn-winter 2012 – Dossena was working as the in-house designer back then. The vibrant Paco Rabanne collection is an astute reminder of what we can do with the makings of the material world in a time when the human mind seems hellbent on escaping into immaterial ones.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.