“I thought anachronism was interesting. How today can we incorporate pieces considered as costume into an everyday wardrobe?”
Nicolas Ghesquiere wondered, what it’s like when groups of tourists in their sweatpants and sneakers storm the corridors of Louvre, which is filled with some of the biggest masterpieces of the previous centuries, from Mona Lisa to the Dutch masters. That’s quite a striking contrast, right? But contrast is Ghesquiere’s favourite field to discuss in his fashion. Although this season’s Louis Vuitton show venue (in the Louvre’s Pavillon de l’Horloge – which opened just last year – that holds the Great Sphinx of Tanis, which dates back to 2600 BC) foreshadowed something as serious as the location itself, Nicolas did the most unexpected. First look said it all: heavily embroidered, tapestry frock coat à la Marie Antoinette styled with blue nylon shorts. A lesson in fashion history plus the off-beat, street aesthetic. I was struck. That’s Ghesquie-genius. The crowd had to gasp with excitement, when the first pair of new, sculptural Vuitton sneakers appeared on the runway. Just like when Freja Beha rocked a pair of polished, futurist slim pants. Ghesquiere acknowledges the past as well as the contemporary in his spring-summer 2018 collection. In the line-up of intricately embellished dresses and fancy Victorian blouses, there was this one Stranger Things t-shirt (so Balenciaga AW12, screaming!) worn over a loosely-fitted georgette shirt. Major.
Thom Browne‘s debut womenswear show in Paris suggests one thing: sometimes, one collection is better than dozens of other designer line-ups. With his unique, artistic sensitivity for couture-ish ready-to-wear, Browne’s collections are not just about fancy dresses – they are entire spectacles, modern-day fairy-tales. For spring-summer 2018, the New York-based designer had “two girls dreaming of unicorns and mermaids, and all the things that little girls dream of” as initial point of departure. Indeed, there was an all-white unicorn on the runway, ‘worn’ by two models. A mermaid has also appeared, wearing a plaid coat and intricately embellished gown. But there were also fairies wearing feather-trimmed jackets, mischievous captain ladies, haunted widows and a Goddess of sun. There was something of a magical and mystical narration in the collection. It’s rare to have a walking skeleton (no, not printed, but delightfully embellished) in your fashion show. Or see a dress with an attached, silk octopus sculpture on the back, with its tentacles covering the model’s body. Another look was spun from spongy clouds of tulle, that trailed behind the model like sea-foam, as she walked down the runway.
I see no obstacles to call this is the most phenomenal collection of this Paris fashion week. Or even, of the entire season. I’m bewitched.
While at her main line in Milan, Miuccia Prada discussed real heroines and the female gaze through comic-like prints, in Paris she sparked the 80s / 90s teen spirit. Ballerina-length lace dresses, checked lumberjack shirts and college sweaters were like the thrift-shop finds of rebellious students, who are about to spend a night playing in their garage band. But a bit more prettier. That’s precisely something a true Miu Miu girl will fall in love with the next season. I also liked the grunge / prairie girl contrast. But the overall effect is not too sophisticated and rather goes back to Miu Miu’s original roots: those are clothes for a younger audience. What really felt like a ‘moment’ this season was the perfectly balanced model casting: over half of the models were non-Caucasian, which tells one simple thing: yes, it’s possible, fashion industry. Please, take notes from Anita Bitton, the brand’s casting director.
In the past, Céline wasn’t the same Céline we know today. In 2017, the label is associated as an epitome of minimal, edgy chic. Actually, Phoebe Philo‘s spring-summer 2018 endeavour was to revive the Céline woman of the 70s, 80s. Those were the pre-Juergen Teller times, when the brand’s campaigns were presenting beige-loving, bourgeoisie ladies whom you would rather see on the crème de la crème of Parisian streets – the Avenue Foch.
Does this woman exist in 2017? Well, she’s rather carrying a croco Birkin, than a Céline plastic tote or, let’s say, orthopedic, rubber sneakers. But for Philo, it wasn’t about trying to do something forced or pretentious. Eccentric, charming, yet nonchalant – those are the words that well define this collection, which has both, an embellished sequin evening dress with a turtleneck and a thick-wool poncho for weekend escapes. “It certainly felt personal“, the designer told the press after her show. She surely meant that the line-up wasn’t meant to be single-themed, but more of an intimate, very elusive vision. Whether in an all-beige suit or a boldly striped gown, carrying a blanket or dressed head-to-toe in white, the Céline woman is definitely not unequivocal in her style choices. Just like fashion in the past that was free of ‘influencers’, all that social media dictatorship and trend rushing. It was about experimenting and having that ‘spark’ in your look. You had it, or not. I fear not everyone will be able to pull off these looks – they really do need that personality, not the wallet. But that’s the reason why Céline stays one of the most sophisticated labels existing today.