Gimmick-y. Louis Vuitton SS23

I’m having a hard time in understanding what’s Nicolas Ghesquière‘s Louis Vuitton is about lately. Once a leader in fashion that was both ergonomic and absolutely intriguing, for seasons now the designer does some of the most gimmick-y fashion – and not in an ironic way. Also, I can’t picture who is actually wearing Louis Vuitton’s women’s ready-to-wear, expect for celebrities who are trapped by life-long contracts. The last show of Paris Fashion Week doesn’t feel like a cherry on top, but an event to which people feel forced to go to… because it’s LV after all. The show’s location was Cour Carrée. Ghesquière invited his longtime friend French artist Philippe Parreno to create an installation, and together with the Hollywood production designer James Chinlund they created a set that felt a little as if a spaceship had landed in the heart of Paris and the aliens had set up a fun fair for locals to see the special attraction. “It’s the first time I designed a collection in dialogue, in correspondence, with someone,” Ghesquière said at a preview, adding that Parreno’s sculpture was in fact “kind of a flower, a carnival flower.” Its massive proportions inspired the supersizing that happened on the runway. The cloche clés key holder that accessorizes many of the brand’s bags was enlarged, as were its Vachetta leather luggage tags, and the wallet that Ghesquière wears on a chain attached to a belt loop became a portfolio that the models clutched to their hips. Most of it looked silly. Something similar was happening with the cumbersome clothes. You might recognize the giant zipper pulls on HoYeon Jung’s opening look from one of the first Ghesquière collections. The designer reported that they’re the largest ever manufactured, and the process of zooming and exaggerating one element of a garment led to the scaling up of other parts as well. Which explains the hyperbolic neckline and hips of Jung’s crop top and skirt, and the oversized straps dangling from the inner hems of vests and jackets, like sportswear panniers. “There is always that game of what is real and what is manipulated,” he explained. “Being with Philippe and working through the eyes of an artist,” Ghesquière said, “sometimes I had the feeling we were a little childish. I think I was maybe more free to break some boundaries for myself.” Releasing your inner child is fine. But I wish Nicolas delivered fashion that’s substantial and not so pointlessly painful for the eye.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Reinterpreting Classics. Miu Miu SS23

Miuccia Prada, with a Miu Miu show on the last day of Paris Fashion Week, proved that she knows where she’s going – comparing to other designers and brands, big and small, who in majority presented some of the mildest and direction-less collections in years. Even though Miu Miu orbits around a similar theme for the third season in a row, it’s refreshing to see Prada’s “sister” brand in such assertive and distinct mode. Those mini-skirts are still going strong, just like leathers in various shades of browns and beiges. Corporate tailoring continues to be aggressively cut-up and raw. But there are a couple of novelties that will definitely become the next Miu best-sellers (and are both easy styling tips as well as vintage shopping inspirations). A gray cap-sleeved T-shirt worn over a beige jumper worn over a gray long-sleeved T-shirt worn over a white T-shirt, they were all very ordinary garments, but certainly delivered a mood. And styled this way, they didn’t look so normal at all. “I’m very serious but also fun. I am both,” Miuccia said backstage of the show. That duality was reflected in this line-up. She showed some clothes so simple they weren’t clothes at all: primitively cut fabrics fixed to the body with fastenings, like an apron skirt tied at the hip or pieces of nylon fashioned into ponchos, dresses and skirts with drawstrings. Strands of nylon were tied around the lower hip of pleated skirts with drawstrings and worn like cummerbunds, and a bandeau top held together by a nylon strap with a plastic clip buckle seemed to have been repurposed from the performance wardrobe. Miu Miu is on a roll, delivering a kind of fashion that resonates with the sexy, subversive, product-focused tastes of the digital generations – even through a simplified lens. Prada framed her show in fittingly odd projections by Chinese artist Shuang Li, who had sharks bouncing off planets and walls, and a soundtrack featuring a spoken-word love poem by the same artist. If there was an upbeat mood in the room, it came from above. “I went through a really… friends died and so on,” Prada said. “Recently, I’m in a good mood, for personal happenings for my friends.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Beguiling. Chanel SS23

Many have tried to decode director Alain Resnais’s beguiling 1961 movie, “L’Année Dernière à Marienbad“. The nouvelle vague classic features a couple who may (or may not) know each other, and who may (or may not) have been in some kind of relationship with each other. They move through a black and white dreamscape of ornate gardens and grand staircases, where time seems to have no meaning and words don’t seem to matter a whole lot either. Still, female lead Delphine Seyrig looks utterly fabulous as she exists in this semi-somnambulistic state, thanks to some of her costumes having been designed by Coco Chanel. What most definitely doesn’t need decoding, however: as Chanel’s Virginie Viard looked at the movie while she was designing spring-summer 2023, it led her to create a very charming collection. Light, nuanced, and with a palpable sense of the here and now, it was Chanel replete with every element and fragment of the house. There were the tweeds, sparkly or ribbon embroidered or adorned with ostrich feathers; the chicest suits, cardigan jackets, and short coatdresses that looked as though they magically weighed next to nothing; boyish knits and teeny tap shorts; and exquisite evening dresses without an iota of fuss. Viard sketched these out in the archetypal black and ivory as well as a heavenly array of pastels, with very few prints, save for those that featured scrolling lines akin to what you might obsessively draw while daydreaming, or black-on-black interlocking logo double-Cs, discreetly repeated over and over again on a softly rippling dress or fluid pajama pants. And to go with all of this: strands and strands of gilded or strass necklaces and drop earrings; smaller versions of the iconic bags; and get-ready-to-be-obsessed, glittery silver house-classic cap-toe slingbacks or grosgrain-bowed crystal booties, which look like the most glamorous (or glam-rock) ankle socks ever. Resnais’s classic wasn’t the only cinematic moment here. Viard had asked Inez and Vinoodh to shoot in Paris a short movie with Kristen Stewart, a kind of homage to Marienbad, as an opener for the show. Stewart leaves a movie theater, wanders the streets of Paris, ascends the famous Rue Cambon Chanel staircase, takes the metro, all the while dressed in the spring collection, including one stunner of a long, sequined rose gold dress. What else should be noted about this collection is that Viard chose to embrace the diversity of female beauty by showing this collection on a whole variety of body types. In a Paris spring show season where that approach has been sadly all but absent, it was a welcome move.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Future Vintage. Stella McCartney SS23

One of the best collections in Paris was delivered by Stella McCartney, who very smartly sensed the vintage world’s growing obsession with her time at Chloé and her super-hot, kitschy-chic, chaotic-good 2000s collections. The spring-summer 2023 show, presented in front of Centre Pompidou, opened with tweaked reissues of McCartney’s gold chain tops from her Chloé spring 2000 collection worn under super-sized blazers with asymmetrical skirts and net stockings. Amber Valletta didn’t wear the draped gold chain top she originally modeled with white denim hot pants in that same show (someone else did, with an added white tank top underneath), but she wear a tailored jumpsuit like the one Raquel Zimmermann had in McCartney’s eponymous spring 2009 show. The Hadids brought the noughties nostalgia full circle: Gigi in a sculpted cargo suit that echoed McCartney’s Savile Row days; Bella in a shrunken vest and low-riding trousers with rhinestone-encrusted cut-outs around the hips. While at Chloé, McCartney’s influence on the era was so vast that you might wonder why the brand’s current custodian, Gabriela Hearst, hasn’t mined those archives already. Honestly, a crime. Asked if it feels weird to see her own work revived in such a big way, McCartney sighed. “It makes me feel extremely old! My daughter, who’s 15, all she does now is go into my closet and take all my original things. And I’m like, ‘Oh, but I make similar things now.’ She’s not interested. She just wants the ’90s.” Nostalgia wasn’t, however, the driving force behind McCartney’s choice to adapt and reissue these pieces. The Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara was. She used his depictions of children as motifs on garments, and focused the collection around his slogan, “Change the History.” “I want to look back at my history and redefine where I started and where I am now and what the next Stella looks like,” said McCartney, explaining her trip down memory lane. For her, of course, that transition has everything to do with sustainability. She re-evoked the 2000s through the finest technology the 2020s have to offer: garments in regenerative bio-diverse cotton that “encourages nature”; shoes in plant-based materials like faux leather made out of grape skins; bags in mycelium mushroom leather; and rhinestone pieces created without animal glues and solvents. In a season that’s seen desperate nostalgia plunges, like Dolce & Gabbana reviving their Y2K archives with the help of Kim Kardashian, McCartney’s reenergizing of the fashion history she helped shape in such a big way felt both ethically and epically right.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Make A Scene. Thom Browne SS23

Thom Browne, as usual, delivered something more than a fashion show. His spring-summer 2023 presentation was a sort of dreamy and very dramatic performance. In his own words, it was “an American prom mixed with Cinderella mixed with the Paris Opera.” Gwendoline Christie provided a scene to remember. She emerged in a full-length, single-breasted, white-piped, braided blazer and some marvelous golden sandals with little effigies of Browne’s dachshund, Hector, at the front of each foot. After a slow mosey around the golden halls, she returned and began spritzing herself with cologne and brushing her locks. And then she told the guests what was to come: “Thom loves his little stories – and this is going to be a very long story.” And the story went a little bit like this: four rouge-lipped hot boys came and removed Christie’s dressing table, wearing quintessential Browne gray tailoring and kilts: salarymen at a Scottish reel. Then came 20 opera coats – the first in a tricolored arrangement – with collegiate numbers on each back. The came five frock coats and three swing skirts with petticoats, plus one white witch extra. And then all 20 coat wearers returned with their unders revealed: all polka-dot tailoring and pastels and peekaboo underwear. The best section ran 52 to 56, when the punks invaded the assembly. Vivienne Westwood was an unavoidable comparison, but in a Thom-Browne-kind-of-way.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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