A Fresh Take On The Parisian. Patou AW20

Finally, there’s someone in Paris with a fresh take on the Parisian. It’s easy to imagine Guillaume Henry‘s Patou as a bit of a friendly girl’s club now. It has fun-silly signatures like sailor caps topped with pom-poms and ’80s pumps with rabbit-ear bows on the toes. But there’s nothing gimmicky about it. It’s a brand Henry wants people to rely on, for a great peacoat, a striped marinere sweater – and for really useful dresses. The point for Henry is that this is a brand that has been reimagined as relatable, very French – “Well, I am French!” – not insanely priced, and also set up to be as transparent and mindful about sourcing as it can be as it goes along. For instance, the wool and taffeta is upcycled, cotton is organic, and the company takes care to explain certifications and its supply chain to customers. Now a bit about the pleasing autumn-winter 2020 offering, which is all about comfortable, yet chic daywear (and eveningwear). The designer explained how Jean Patou had set up his company a century ago, with his new menthality for a French brand at the time. “He had a bar in his store so people could relax and have a drink, and his in-house shows would turn into parties after. And he was one of the first to design for the weekend, when everyone started going to Deauville and Biarritz and all that.” This sort of laid-back mood is perceivable in the collection and its fun styling. The JP logo, with its Art Deco 1920s feel is embroidered or knitted into sweaters. And then, of course, there’s the Jean Patou of the 1980s. “Christian Lacroix was here! And Karl Lagerfeld too. It was his first job!” Henry’s taffeta puffball skirts and Provençal lace blouses nod to Lacroix’s period, which is a witty thing to do.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

For The Champions. Lacoste AW20

Louise Trotter‘s take on Lacoste gets better and better with every season. Golf bags, kiltie loafers, and signature green crocodile logo were all over the autumn-winter 2020 – Trotter knows that a brand like this needs its codes to be nurtured continously – but there were other additions. The designer has not abandoned the brand’s tennis heritage for its neighboring sport at the country club – through these golf-inspired pieces, she is paying homage to René Lacoste’s wife, Simone de la Chaume, a champion golfer whose legacy has been overshadowed by her husband’s embroidered gator. In De la Chaume’s heyday in the 1920s, shin-grazing pleated skirts and deep-V knitwear constituted the on-green look for women; here, Trotter refigured these silhouettes to be lighter, breezier, and in flashes of pastel colors. Styled as total looks – according to stylist Suzanne Koller’s own wardrobe rules – these golfing ensembles had a quirkily modern feel without veering too far into costume. The colour palette of the collection was definitely one of the most inspiring this season. I think buyers and editors aren’t really taking the new Lacoste seriously. And they actually should: it’s great.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Past, Present, Future. Louis Vuitton AW20

This season, Louis Vuitton‘s Nicolas Ghesquière enlisted the costume designer Milena Canonero, a frequent collaborator of Stanley Kubrick’s, to create a monumental backdrop of 200 choral singers, each one clothed in historical garb dating from the 15th century to 1950. It was a mammoth undertaking, and a truly beautiful one. “I wanted a group of characters that represent different countries, different cultures, different times,” Ghesquière explained beforehand. “I love this interaction between the people seated in the audience, the girls walking, and the past looking at them—these three visions mixed together.” The time-collapsing sensation was heightened by the fact that the chorus performed was a composition by Woodkid and Bryce Dessner based on the work of Nicolas de Grigny, a contemporary of Bach’s. All of today’s fashion is a synthesis of the past, but Ghesquière makes a closer study of it than most. He’s compelled by the anachronous. A few seasons ago he clashed 18th-century frock coats and the high-tech trainers, creating a look as full of contrasts as the times we live in. For autumn-winter 2020, he offers even more time clashes: jewel-encrusted boleros (I can already see Rosalia performing in one of those) meet parachute pants, buoyant petticoats are paired with fitted tops whose designs looked cribbed from robotics, bourgeois tailoring is layered over sports jerseys. My favourite look of the collection – a sheer tulle dress with latex finishings worn over a leather motocross body – carried the quintessence of Ghesquière’s concept. The collection comes perfectly in time with the upcoming Met Gala (which is scheduled for the beginning of May and isn’t surrendering to coronavirus – for now) and its theme. Nicolas is the cohost of the gala, and Louis Vuitton is sponsoring the Costume Institute exhibition, “About Time: Fashion and Duration”. Just as in the exhibition’s idea, the collection says it out loud: fashion is a mirror of the present moment, built from the past. And it has future, as well.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Toying With Elegance. Miu Miu AW20

Miu Miu‘s autumn-winter 2020 collection didn’t entirely click for me. Maybe it was the uncomfortable looking, 1940s-inspred hair. Or the suffocating retro feeling that feels completely cut from reality. Or it’s the current, global circumstances that just don’t really match the collection’s early 20th century party girl mood. “Toying With Elegance” was the title of the line-up, an allusion to the childlike joy that comes with getting dressed to the nines. Miuccia Prada had the show opened with a charming cameo: Storm Reid, the 16-year-old actor of Euphoria fame, who wore a persimmon crushed-satin dress and tweed overcoat. The rest of the collection rotated around the idea of matching a festive dress with a big coat. Extra-long proportions lent a sense of irreverence to the sweet empire-line dresses in saccharine shades that were replete with bows and crystal embellishments. The most convincing pieces were the leg-baring little black dresses that had frothy taffeta sleeves and colorful nipped waistbands – they made you think of Miu Miu’s archival “girl”. Especially spring-summer 2008, which was all about that easy, flirty look. The rest was kind of forced.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Essentials. Xuly.Bët AW20

Lamine Kouyaté‘s Xuly.Bët is back on track – with a location switch from New York to Paris, where his family and children are. Born in Mali and raised largely in France, the designer launched his Xuly.Bët (a Wolof/Senegalese expression that means “keep your eyes open”) label in 1989. His guerrilla approach to shows complemented his bricolage technique and use of salvaged and repurposed materials – so yes, everything’s that’s rightly trending in the emerging times of sustainable fashion. Lamina’s comeback collection was staged in a charity shop in Paris’ 2nd arrondissement. Showing in Paris also meant some of his longest-term collaborators, like Rossy de Palma and Michelle Elie, were there, bopping down the catwalk between the 1970s office decor and bins of baby onesies. The autumn-winter 2020 line-up offers smart, yet properly odd take on everyday wardrobe. Those are essentials that stun with their functionality and sophistication. A little black dress made of a fractured pieces of stretch jersey and red seaming, paired with a veil that holds a tiny baby inside. Jeans cut precisely large and with clunky buttons. Trench coat made from 100% recycled materials. Wool blazers with hand-printed letters in gold. After the groovy show, Kouyaté was asked how it felt to be the first to be upcycling all the way back in the ’90s. He demurred, saying he wasn’t the founder of the movement, but he was certainly one of its earliest supporters. “It says something positive,” he said of upcycling textiles. “We have to.” Stores like Dover Street Market or Matches, place orders at Xuly.Bët’s.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.