Paris Fashion Week is the time of big debuts: Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent and Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior to name the most significant ones. But also, it kicks off with a big return. Olivier Theyskens. The designer who placed little canaries on stilettos back in 2002; the man behind iconic heel-less shoes at Nina Ricci. Prince of avant-garde, who has been sorely missed, surprised everyone when he reappeared in the season’s schedule. However, his spring-summer 2017 collection is far from fuss: intimately presented to a group of 80 editors and fashion industry friends, there were 25 looks. Both numbers seem to be unrealistically small for a fashion show in 2016 – but sometimes, it’s the quality, not quantity, that matters.
Theyskens had an occasion to refresh everybody’s memory with his cult signatures. Python leather leggings and very high heels are still his favourites; blazers with sleekly corseted waists are pure romance; elusive transparency revealed a thing or two. And the all-black colour palette (with minor splashed of red and white). Leave sultry to Olivier, as his love for women’s body is reflected in those sharp mini-dresses and intriguingly cut skirts. To a certain extend, I see some similarities between Theyskens’ latest outing of noir ready-to-wear, and Azzedine Alaia’s chic-defining fashion shows. The mood of privacy, and a kind of luxurious modesty, radiates in work of these two legendary designers. Even though they come from totally different decades, their sophisticated, and somewhat dramatic elegance never goes out of
“Instead of exploring the history of women, which I have for a while, I decided to take care of now, the present, and trying to find elegance.” After a deep-in-meaning, sophisticated autumn-winter 2016 filled with sailor hats and layered corsets, Miuccia Prada explores softer and lighter aspects of womenswear. No wonder why – you can’t avalanche yourself on and on with problems. Previous collection at Prada reflected the current migrant crisis, and the our biggest companion of 21st century – uncertainty. We’ve already seen a majority of collections during the spring-summer 2017 marathon, and it’s pretty clear that the overall mood is very optimistic. The designers want to cheer things up, even though they know it’s not that sweet and joyous in today’s world. Miuccia doesn’t appear to be so naive, but she attempts to look on the brighter side this spring.
First look, and it’s Milena Litvinovskaya, a newcomer in an all-black look: tank-top and knee-length kilt. Sounds familiar? That’s a striking reminder of Prada’s minimalism back in the 90s, when the ugly beauty style kicked-off for good. Second look, and the mood drastically changes. It’s Amanda Murphy, a runway veteran, in cream-white coat with ostrich feather-trimmed sleeves and Bauhaus-like buckles. The following looks are a continuing passion for 20s / 30s Deco-graphic prints and Old Hollywood allure, with pastel-pink dresses, loosely fitted midi-skirts and oriental pant-suits. The plastic-fantastic jewellery becomes heavier and denser, while the shoes state one thing: the uglier, the better. At a first glance, Miuccia is quoting her past signatures. However, the clothes fell fresh, and they convey a sense of elegance that matches the always-in-run tempo of contemporary world. For a change, they are (deceitfully) untroubled, too.
Being a creative director of Schiaparelli is hard, noting Elsa Schiaparelli’s extremely idiosyncratic and characteristic legacy. We’ve all observed how Bertrand Guyon struggled with the splendour of archives and references during his last two seasons, simply re-designing Elsa’s famous gowns and costumes. But for autumn-winter 2016, it seems that Guyon decided to sit down in a calm place while designing the new collection, which, in fact, isn’t a laid-back topic.
Schiaparelli’s famous summer 1938 circus show was in Guyon’s mind throughout the creative process, keeping it toned and, at a first glance, simple. The first looks were quite surprisingly elegant – black dresses with Old Hollywood style cuts and shoulders, hand-painted smokings. So chic. Then, it got even better, as the cocktail dress with a Picasso-esque bustier emerged. Back in the times, Schiaparelli expressed a true rhapsody of surreal beauty in fashion, and this collection proved that Bertrand can do Elsa’s thing, too. A velvet, butterfly-wing shaped jacket; colourful mink jacket; sequined ball-dresses. It’s a circus inspired collection, so naturally it was impossible not to spot meticulously embroidered peacocks and other animals. Every piece from this collection is a work of art. Indeed, that’s haute couture.
Don’t expect extravaganza from Jason Wu. But if talking of contemporary elegance, this guy is a master of it. From Marlene Dietrich to Diana Vreeland on his mind, Wu presented a lady-like collection filled with chic lace, shoulder-exposing tops in beige and minimal floral mini-dresses. Of course, there is a spot for eveningwear – take the ecru silk dress with feather applications worn by the last season’s top-runway-walker, Lineisy Montero. In fact, at Jason Wu’s house even a duvet jacket looks alluring, when made of black velvet. As Jason Wu is usually called as the first luxurious brand to show during the New York fashion week, you instantly want to have a tea instead of coffee, and move to a place where they serve foie gras rather than Starbucks brownie.
Tomas Maier, the creative director of Bottega Veneta, takes his man (and woman) to the darker side this season. But the colour of black had its function – Maier made it the leading colour of the show in order to present a contrast. “It’s about the silhouette. I felt it needed change. All the sportswear-inspired elements that we have been putting in: It’s time to move on. It’s becoming a trend, lots of people are doing that, I don’t need to do it forever.” Rather than reintepreting de luxe sweatpants, the collection was focused on the way the athletic, yet elegant clothes look on the body of both men and women. For guys, Bottega Veneta channeled a loose-fit chic, while girls looked soigné in their calfskin coats and relaxed skirts. Even though this collection is not a ground-breaking one, it feels like one of the best menswear outings by the designer up to date.