Muse. Patou SS23

Just before the haute couture fashion week began, Guillaume Henry had his first IRL show for Patou at the brand’s charming headquarters in the Île de la Cité. Over the pandemic, Patou built up its identity as a playful young Parisian brand that’s popular with influencers with a collection that was early into the celebration of exuberant oversized shapes on French themes. Well, post-isolation years, it’s as if Patou has shed its chrysalis and emerged into the sunshine in super slimmed-down body-conscious shape. Tiny mini shifts, hourglass curve-clinging dresses, sexy high waisted bootcuts, little cropped tops. The voluminous flounces had more or less flounced out. And there was Julia Fox, beig THE moment of the spring-summer 2023 presentation. The fact that she topped off the show in a body-dress with an Art Nouveau print is an indication, perhaps, of how far the perception of this brand has penetrated. But Henry always said that his main way of designing is listening to what his coworkers and girlfriends say, clocking who they admire, who they’re talking about, and observing what they’re actually wearing on a daily basis. Which brought him around to the idea of muses – a classification which Fox has redefined in 2022. In Henry’s mind, it was deeper than that – considering that muse culture has very high art French roots. He found photos of young women students carving clay maquettes at the Beaux Arts school in the late 19th century, the time of the Belle Epoque and Toulouse Lautrec, and of female stage and cabaret performers. He wanted to capture something of that in a self-directed way for the worlds young women are inhabiting these days. Well, the collection hardly translated that message, and I honestly missed Henry’s exuberant take on the contemporary Patou wardrobe he has shown us in the previous seasons.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

NET-A-PORTER Limited

Material Gworl. LaQuan Smith AW22

Before debuting his fiery autumn-winter 2022 collection on the runway this evening, New York-based designer LaQuan Smith took a moment of silence to acknowledge the late and great André Leon Talley – the longtime Vogue editor who changed the industry as we know it, due to his discerning eye and unparalleled enthusiasm (to be honest, it’s shocking that no other brand in the city mentioned Talley’s passing this season). During the hectic, fast-paced week, it was a classy touch on Smith’s part that reminded one to take a moment and to reflect. It also allowed spectators to quite literally take a breath, before having it taken away by the ultra-sexy clothes that followed. The opening number, for instance – modeled by Julia Fox, It girl of the moment – was a black turtleneck dress with bold chest cutouts. The crowd went wild for it. After two years of the pandemic, and the overuse of terms like “comfort dressing” or “loungewear,” Smith wanted to dial up the sex factor for autumn and vouch for the return of naughty glamour. This resulted in loads of sequins, fabulous mink coats, and extremely-mini skirts that just skimmed the buttocks – like a modern-day take on wild Studio 54 style. “This collection was really about the revival of New York City and celebrating life again,” said Smith. “I wanted to create a collection that gave women a sense of hope and celebration.”

His color palette of neutrals, paired with electrifying golds, reds, and blues, certainly woke you up with a jolt. Smith does sexy well. Sequin- or mink-covered body suits were paired with low-slung trousers that exposed hip bones. The dresses were cut short with deep-V necklines, while his version of leather pants came all zippered up like a moto jacket. Outerwear was a new category push for him, Smith said: “It’s all about these super-strong, big, New York shearlings, with these little itty-bitty sexy silhouettes underneath. It’s cold outside, but she’s going somewhere.” Smith’s clothes are certainly not for wallflowers. In the spirit of recent collections from, say, Blumarine or Versace, Smith sees the future of fashion as a time to be raunchy and show some skin. After two years of sweatpants, this feels right. There were a few key women who stuck with him during the design process as well. He cited style icons like Lil’ Kim and Grace Jones, as well as the regular everyday Manhattan women he’s witnessed growing up in New York. “I’d see women teetering in their heels in the Meatpacking District, when New York was vibrant, fun, and all about nightlife,” says Smith. “That kind of energy and level of excitement is what I’m trying to revive.” His latest assortment, he says, is what he envisions the current crop of New York party girls wearing. “It’s fresh, young, and sexy,” said Smith. “To me, it’s the new New York bitch.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.