No one in New York does opera-level drama like Thom Browne. At his spring 2022 presentation, which was an artistic performance and a fashion spectacle at the same time, the audience could be carried off in awe in so many directions: pegasuses rode penny-farthings, a couple of bachelors haunted a raw wood house, models turned from shrubs into statues… just wow. The presentation began with a voice-over about a couple of bachelors stuck indoors, looking out over an aging garden. Classic statuary, the tradition of carving a marble block into a contrapposto David, charted the show’s three parts: part one, twenty Platonic suiting ideals; part two, the pure marble slab as tunic and maxi, fastened with a hook-and-eye up the back; part three, a trick of the eye, a flex of artistry, full force in tulle. At the end, the show’s two bachelors chained their gates, unzipped each other’s gray wool dresses, and orbited each other, never quite touching hands. Passion thrives in the littlest gestures; Browne’s show was full of beauty to pluck your heartstrings and stoke your sartorial flame. And oh, the details! Those rainbow-color tulle dresses that made up the finale, with trompe l’oeil drapery and abs (the exact Greek statues Browne visited were in The Met), were not painted, but dozens of layers of tulle built up like a topography of the human form. Teddy Quinlivan’s long sheath had an arm sewn to the torso, and the models who walked in the show’s first passage were layered in at least four Browne tailoring separates. This show was not only awesome for its theatricality but for its scale; other designers would struggle to make a single garment to Browne’s standard. Browne made about 200. Each of those 200 shirts, pants, skirts, suits, jackets, bags, shoes, and hand-made gray flowers was, in not-so-coded language, a love letter to American fashion. Browne moved his show back to New York for one season only in support of his partner Andrew Bolton’s exhibition “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” opening at The Met this week.
Without much effort, but only thanks to his vision, Rick Owens‘ shows are always most surprising during Paris Fashion Week. And this time, the designer did not disappoint. After the Estonian heavy-metal group performing on the runway and Brooklyn-based dancers dancing in their own, energetic style, Rick invited local, Parisian gymnasts to become… human back-packs. But, this shouldn’t be treated us a performance to be laughed at – serenity, grace and power of the way these women carried another, looking strong in Owens’ airy silhouettes, was disturbing, but beautiful. As the designer suggested, it represented the conncection between the women he dresses, knows and is constantly inspired by. And, “This Land is Mine” performed by Eska (Owen’s personal Beyonce) during the show made it the most emotionally filled collection of the season. And what’s interesting, the collection was based on plus size models – so, this means that the traditional clothes sized were in ranged from traditional model’s standard to the gymnast’s bodies.“I feel I haven’t done enough to accommodate them (plus size people). It’s hard to create a corner for people who might never come to me for that but I’m trying to find a way… I love a big girl who owns it unapologetically. Enjoy your juiciness.” Rick Owens knows how to effectively steal the spotlight, without pointless extras.
Every collection is a new story for Simon Porte Jacquemus, the designer behind Paris’ favourite label – Jacquemus. This collection, however, is different from all. The Jacquemus girl used to be a cheerful Frenchie from Marseilles, wearing over-sized tops and striped pantaloons. This season, this girl is not that smiley anymore. In the dreamlike theatre that Simone prepared, the whole mood felt rather melancholic, and very poetic. The whole “performance” felt kind of psychodramatic, as a young child (the designer’s cousin, Jean) pushed a large, red ball of fabric across the stage, and Jacquemus himself appeared, leading a white horse. Then, the models came out, wearing signature, very-Jacquemus colour-block dresses and shape-deconstructing coats.
“We know me for my smile and my sunshine and my (love of the) seaside,” Jacquemus said, reflecting on his fashion that we know from the past seasons. Also, he admitted that the atmosphere of this season was different. “The girl was not dark, she was quite fresh – but you can see a little tiny bit, I tried to have this kind of sadness.” The name of the collection, Le Nez Rouge, means the red nose – but also, it reminded Simon about his childhood illness that caused his nose to be constantly red. Childhood memories and the whole idea of naive is from the very beginning present in Jacquemus’ career, and this show had it too. As the designer is just 25, won the second LVMH Prize Award and has more and more buyers in his Parisian showroom each season, it seems that the pressure is pretty high for him – but, Jacquemus just won’t entirely grow up. Even though this collection is much more mature than the humour accompanying the last season’s collection.
Dance! Use your body language! Resort 2016 by the New York-based favourite, Rachel Comey, is a blast. The looks were documented through a dance performance from the Robbins Child company – women who love dancing simply showed the clothes they wore through movement. While listening to various music on their headphones, the dancers looked more than refreshing in colours of curcuma, lemon and red chilli… Comey said that she’d been looking at shots from Kingston, Jamaica circa the 1970s as a way of exploring a loose “street style” theme, and though her homage was indirect, the collection’s prints and colors made the reference clear. With a cool 70’s twist, these dresses are definitely the ones you want to try out at Saturday night dance-club.