Sometimes, you fall in love with a collection since the very first moment you’ve seen it. But sometimes, you need some time to get the point behind it. This is what I felt with Julien Dossena‘s Paco Rabanne spring-summer 2018 fashion show. It’s difficult to revive the most ‘contemporary’ brand of 20th century in 21th century, especially in 2017, where defining anything is quite a struggle. However, Dossena understands well what a today’s woman wants and enjoys in fashion – just like Paco did in the 60s. “It was sort of disco boogie-nights,” Julien said backstage of his show, “but then we cleaned it up. I wanted something a little over the top, but precise and refined.” The brand’s cult chain-mail was intriguingly mixed with paisley print, pastel-pink transparency and athleisure-fit, elastic fabrics. But all that very Parisian glow and this chic ‘party’ attitude is what looks like a great way for dressing to celebrate the upcoming festive season. Whether you style it Space Age, Barbarella-mod or more Françoise Hardy, the New Year’s Eve in Paco might be it.
There’s magical aura surrounding Marine Serre‘s work. Maybe it’s because of the feeling of prejudice-free love that is translated so well in the Paris-based designer’s fashion? In case you don’t know: Serre was awarded the 2017 LVMH Prize, having only one collection under her belt. ‘Radical Call for Love‘ – her first collection – was a visual comment on “urgency and contemporaneity by the tragic events in Paris and Brussels in 2015 and 2016.” Marine’s message was presented in a metaphorical way: Islamic symbols were transformed into logo-like branding and faux-Nike headbands (“it’s political and it’s not political. It’s much more than a crescent moon; it also represents how we all felt”), while carpet-like prints clashed with Byzantine florals. ‘Cornerstones’ is the continuation of the first season, and the 25-year-old designer looks forward to a more practical, not basic, offering. “What’s important for me is to be able to connect to contemporary daily life,” says Serre, “that you need to drive, to run.” That’s why, other than athletic stretch bodies in moon motif, there are denim jackets and go-to leggings. The gowns, that can hardly be classified as dusty ‘cocktail’, looked easy thanks to innovative, pouf-y effect construction. It’s rare to see clothes that really do aim to be ready-to-wear, and simultaneously stand for something.
“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.