The spacious Balenciaga store on Avenue Montaigne has the most fantastic, jaw-dropping, oh, iconic dresses of the season. Yes, those spring-summer 2020 dresses by Demna Gvasalia that stole the entire Paris fashion week spotlight back in October. They really are modern-day couture. The stunning, crinoline dresses (the ones in candy wrap lurex with a huge bow on the back and the three velvet masterpieces in different colours). “Ballroom dresses go back to the beginning of Balenciaga, when Cristóbal started in Spain. It was mostly this type of silhouette he did, from Spanish painting,” Gvasalia observed. “But we wanted to make sure they were wearable.“ They surely are. And yes, they really make an entrance.
57 Avenue Montaigne
Collage and photos by Edward Kanarecki.
(P.S. If you are inspired by my Parisian coverage, I’m really happy about, but please have in mind that now isn’t a safe time for any sorts of travelling. Stay at home!)
Whether it’s one of her statement cocktail mini-dresses or a pair of zebra-print boots, Magda Butrym’s pieces carry an undeniably cool attitude that is a mixture of the 80s and 90s chic. What makes me even more excited about her pieces is that they’re beautifully crafted in Poland, embracing the nearly forgotten, local craft experience. With every season, Magda’s work becomes more and more signature and distinct to her style. And she also expands her line-ups. For autumn-winter 2020, the Polish designer offers the complete wardrobe, from boxy overcoats to tiny corset tops trimmed in crystals. The black, leather coat with shearling collar is a dream, just like the floral dresses made from glorious, meaty velvet or the incredible sequinned garments (those are just some of the details I had a chance to experience at her showroom in Paris). Butrym’s clients – and that fan-base steadily grows – will be pleased to see that the label introduces sunglasses this season, made in collaboration with Linda Farrow. Delightful.
Collages and showroom photos by Edward Kanarecki, look-book photos by Sonia Szóstak.
Three weeks ago I’ve been to my beloved Paris – the pre-coronavirus-outbreak times… – and now is the moment to share some of my highlights. A trip to the Dries Van Noten store on the Left Bank is a ritual, but this time, it was even more important because of the very special collection that is there. I mean spring-summer 2020, the one where Dries collaborated with the legendary designer Christian Lacroix. You might have already observed that I really fell in love with this one-of-a-kind collaboration. Or better, say match; dialogue; meeting. When this bacame a fact during the last Paris fashion week, in that very moment the planets moved or maybe the time stopped. This collection is something you never thought you needed in your life. I’m still in absolute awe, while going through the looks over and over again. “The idea is to bring fun ideas, nothing too serious, things that I think perhaps we have lost a little in fashion”, Van Noten told the press back then. “I wanted to do something joyful”. Dries and Christian weren’t acquainted before their collab (it came up spontaneously), but their contrasts became actual similitaries once they started working together. They fulfilled each other. Lacroix’s iconic legacy of ‘never too much’ combined with Van Noten’s mastership of colour-and-print balance. Looking at the final result, all the Lacroix signatures are in place, filtered through Van Noten’s sensibility: polka dots, broad stripes, animal prints, ruffles, matador jackets, gigot sleeves, silks woven with scaled up, bright flowers, pouf skirts, duchesse satin and grosgrain. The vocabulary of Dries Van Noten is fused with that of Mr. Christian Lacroix throughout: said jacquards have been scanned and appear as prints across cotton and organza; lightweight polyesters, made out of recycled plastic bottles and coated papers rustle alongside precious French silks; basic white tops are decorated with a single overblown embroidered sleeve here, jeans with an appliquéd feather or feather print on one leg there. If Mr. Lacroix was among the most feted couturiers of the latter part of the 20th century (in his own words, he “failed with ready-to-wear”), Dries Van Noten is one of the pret-a-porter leaders of today. It’s a match made in heaven. Such fashion wonders happen very, very rarely, so seeing them IRL, in the charming Van Noten boutique, was an ecstatic experience. Below are photos I took there, mixed with my new collages feauturing the collection photographed by Tommy Ton. As most of us are staying at home now, here‘s a link to the interview where both designers talk about their work – and even if you’ve seen it, it’s worth rewatching!
7 Quai Malaquais – Paris
(The place is temporarily closed. If you are inspired by my Parisian coverage, I’m really happy about, but please have in mind that now isn’t a safe time for any sorts of travelling. Stay at home!)
Photos and collages by Edward Kanarecki, photos of the collection photographed by Tommy Ton for Dries Van Noten.
Commission is a New York-based label co-founded by Huy Luong, Dylan Cao and Jin Kay. Since their debut, the designers are set out to redefine their Asian heritage using Western style codes. Their fourth season continues to be a modern reinterpretation of what their mothers wore to work at the end of 20th century, this time however the style is more refined and after-dark chic. Business-ready tailoring, leather pencil skirts, turtleneck dresses and soft retro prints – the Commission look is taken out straight from 1990’s Vogue Italia. As Cao told Paper, “we’re first-generation immigrants to the US. So around the time that we started there was this conversation we wanted to have, about Asian, especially East Asian, culture and representation in the visual world, and especially in the fashion industry. And for a long time we found it really limiting, and really literal.” When looking at family photos, all three designers realized that their mothers styled themselves in a similar manner to go to work, dressing with the same “visual code,” as Cao put it. “The ’80s and ’90s, that’s sort of a period when not a lot of people talk about Asia, because there’s less to romanticize” he continued. “By then there were a lot of Western influences in the way people dressed in Asia. Growing up we’d see our parents go to work and tweak the Western-style codes in their own way. And just looking at our moms and the way they dressed – the big suits, the shoulder pads, the pants – but adding their own personal flares to the way they styled the clothes, that’s what kind of connected us.” If you still haven’t done that, make sure to follow Commission’s steps, as the brand is getting better and better with every season!
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
I bet you’ve seen the unmistakable, Chopova Lowena skirt – multiple-pleated patchworks, suspended by mountaineering carabiners from chunky leather belts – on the street style arena. They are so distinct in their look you that just can’t miss them in the crowd. Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena‘s signature, made out of traditional fabrics from Bulgaria – and produced there – was the start of their label’s story. In a short space of time they’ve developed a cult following for their upcycled collection: colorfully cool, full-skirted dresses with big puffed sleeves, layerings of tartans and ’70s prints. Also, their way of doing things is so appealing. “It’s important for us not to make clothes for the sake of it, but to make things which are part of our heritage, and are helping people,” they say. Chopova’s light bulb moment was realizing that her home country is full of under-recognized cultural resources – both in terms of rich fabrics and skilled female sewers. “After communism in Bulgaria, it was all about adopting a Western lifestyle,” she says. “So all the beautiful traditional clothes which had been made as dowries for brides, which people kept in trunks for generations – they didn’t find them precious anymore, and were throwing them out.” The designers began retrieving them, along with 1970s mass-produced flower-print and check taffeta deadstock, then made a network of Bulgarian women seamstresses to make their collections. “It’s built up by one friend knowing another – someone knew a granny who loves embroidery, the old technique they used for aprons. So now it’s great that everything’s being made by these women who really know their skill.” Thanks to another friendship-group link, Chopova Lowena has hit on original way of making jeans this season, printed with beautifully faded marbled patterns, inset with florals. “It’s made by women in their houses in Bursa in Turkey,“ Chopova told Vogue. “We discovered it through one of the Bulgarian women we work with, who goes there. It’s a-300-year-old technique which is used for making Turkish tiles; but now we’ve transferred it to fabric,” she continues. Every piece is unique. In times when sustainability must be the keyword for every brand out there, this ethical way of working comes naturally for these two designers. “We think it’s a luxury to be able to have something handcrafted, and to know where it comes from,” Chopova says. “When we were starting, with all these old materials and telling buyers that, no, everything we make can’t be the same – we never even guessed that it would be welcomed.”
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.