The Lemaire spring-summer 2023 presentation was a beautiful, harmonious scene. “It’s always nice to see people when they are in between things,”Christopher Lemaire said. “And people are very much themselves,”Sarah-Linh Tran added. Outside this presentation at the Musée des Arts et Métiers were clustered lots of fashion folk with no time to spare, waiting to go upstairs to see models in Lemaire acting as if they had time to kill. On the staircase a brace of male models idly swayed on their heels in top to toe monocolor stone, one wearing a crisp trench over full white pants in cotton and a split-upper slipper, the other a wide blouson over a collar-popped shirt and a multi-pleated silky pant with the same shoes. A female model in a culotte-integrating version of the outfits we’d just seen stood on the landing above. Up into the hall, there was a guy leaning on a window frame in brown blouson and work trousers with a bag strapped around his shoulder and a mini torch on his key fob. Across from him a woman in an interestingly halter-wrapped shirt and brown five pocket pants read a battered Luis Bunuel paperback. Further along another woman wore a dress and a guy wore a camp collar shirt that were both in the same hibiscus print. A female slept on a bench, warmed by the shafts of sunlight through the window, and cushioned by her softly blushing shirting and crisp cotton pants. A guy leant against a table in more pared down brown workwear reading Le Monde. At the end of the room, Ana Roxanne played mood music on multiple instruments and we saw more model groupings wearing super attractive printed pieces by the Indonesian artist Noviadi Angkasapura. This was a refreshingly straightforward collection that put the clothes on a pedestal of reality.
It’s end of an era at Etro: with a new creative director appointed, the Italian brand is departing from its family roots. Marco De Vincenzo is taking the lead, and will show his first collection in September. Veronica Etro and Kean Etro waved a good-bye with their last collections: women’s resort and men’s spring-summer 2023. These two line-ups were quintessentially Etro, at its best. For menswear, Kean Etro delights in layering multiple references with the ease that comes not only from experience but from true cultural curiosity. His love of literature and poetry are just some of his many interests, and this season, instead of invitations, he had actors phone each of the show’s hundreds of guests to recite a dedicated poem to each one. It was a gesture of exquisite sensitivity. “Poetry and utopia go hand in hand,” he said backstage before the show. “In its etymology, poetry simply means making, composing. I wanted to give value to the idea of creating, which shouldn’t be separated from utopia.” Quoting Oscar Wilde, he added “there’s no progress in society without utopia.” Following circadian rhythms, looks were presented in circular chromatic cadence, from morning whites through sun-at-the-zenith brights to velvety darks dotted with starry figments. Archetypal in shape – kimonos, kaftans, djellabas, wrap jackets closed by obis 0 it was elevated by what the designer called “a florilegium,” that is a plethora of sparse floral images delicately overprinted with the number 432 Hertz. “It’s the number indicating the frequency of the universe’s good vibration,” said Kean. “It’s the frequency of beauty. It’s like when you charge crystals or bio-dynamic particles with energy – I’ve used it to somehow energize the garments.” The energy-charging ritual may have worked: there was a lively feeling to the collection that propelled it forward, despite the stifling heatwave which made the air feel unnaturally still. Billowy see-through chiffon kaftans and elongated shirts and kimonos in liquid satin were worn open to reveal nude skin, as well as boxing shorts exposing bare legs. The body was perceived through mesh textures, broderie Anglaise inserts, and impalpable silks and linens. The breezy, cultivated Bohemian feel which is the Etro siblings’ signature looked vital and delicate in equal measure.
Meanwhile, for resort 2023, Veronica focused on the classic summer-version of the brand. The label’s staples – the glamorous caftan, the dressing gown duster, the flowy dress – were given a fresh interpretation. The paisley motif was blown up into a vibrant abstract rendition, printed on a long chiffon dress with butterfly sleeves, or onto a masculine bermuda suit, or again on a tight body-con number with an asymmetrical ruffled hem. Punctuating the collection with an artisanal feel, a series of crocheted pieces including an elongated mesh cardi, a handknit knotted-fringed miniskirt, and a show stopping robe/poncho exuded the haute hippy vibe that is trademark Etro. Its free spirited attitude will surely transition into Etro’s new direction.
“I never gave up on being dressed, even when the trend was about sportswear,” says Saint Laurent’s Anthony Vaccarello of his pre-fall women’s collection, the until-now-unseen curtain raiser to his sublime and epic winter show, presented earlier this year. “I am glad that people want to dress up again, because for me nothing has changed.” Never let it be said that Vaccarello doesn’t have unerring instincts. When the rest of the world was letting it all hang out while being holed up at home, he was showing hyper-colored tweedy suits dripping with jewels on an icy tundra, or had marabou and pop-floral chiffon marching across a vast Sahara-like vista; big themes, big landscapes, big drama. In their way they were as much paeans to hope for the future as statements of intent about how you might want to dress in the present. Except change was to a degree part of the narrative: Vaccarello also took on board the prevailing desire for comfort and ease, he just didn’t do it in the obvious, cliched or un-YSL of ways; there were modern compact jerseys and fluid silks to move in and to feel free in. This pre-fall collection builds on that as much as planting the seeds for the aforementioned winter, which he describes as “lots of volumes, more rounded shapes, a bit of Art Deco, a bit ’90s and a bit of Poiret.” His trick is to take all of that and work it through some of the classic Saint Laurent-isms. The columnar line for evening that Yves loved so much now looks perfect for daytime, partnered with a tough belted leather jacket and an armful of bangles. The iconic le smoking also makes it to the other side of the dawn, as an eased up suit, a cape, or a sharp-shouldered coat. Those are just some of the strong outerwear statements on show here: oversized faux furs, cozily chic but with a casual flick-the-collar-up attitude; voluminous-shouldered cocoon coats and nifty leather trenches thrown over some particularly ravishing slithery lingerie slip dresses, a hint of romanticism given by their guipure or frothy lace edges. Finishing all this off: stretch velvet high-heeled boots; gilt-trimmed square-toed pumps; and frame topped handbags. Magnifique.
In the pre-seasons, the Proenza Schouler duo leans into experimentation. A scroll through Resort 2023 images makes it clear that Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough are strongly attracted to texture and hand-feel. In addition to the innovative spongy sequin knit (“The sequins are baked into the actual yarn itself, so when you knit it up, they’re all embedded. It looks like Lurex, but it’s a beautiful, piece of knitwear“), they used silk velvet for slip dresses and matching sets, a three-dimensional ribbed knit for coordinating cardigans and flares, and a short hair shearling on a belted coat. The saturated colors of the velvet and shearling especially added to their appeal. After texture, their other preoccupation here was shape. It’s tempting to see 1940s proportions in nipped-waist jackets and full skirts whose sculptural hems were reinforced with horsehair. The track pants and frilly ankle socks paired with a different nipped jacket are another, cheekier way to go about it. On the subject of shape, they revisited the corset tops that were the building blocks of their earliest collection. “Old Proenza vibes,” Hernandez said, but updated in suiting fabric for a touch of surprise. And that’s the direction the designers should continue to embrace.
Joy, pleasure, exuberance. As the world has turned back on post-pandemic, designers have strived to channel those sensations in their clothes. For Christopher John Rogers, all that seems to come quite naturally. He sprang down the New York runway, leaping and pirouetting and soaking up his standing ovation. This was Rogers’s first IRL show in over two years. So backstage after the show there was a feeling of making up for lost time. Rogers exchanged hugs, wiped away tears, and posed with what looked like all 55 of his models. Of his collection, he said, “I wanted to say that everything can exist together, everything makes sense if you will it to. I like the idea of multiplicity and that so many things through one specific scope can shine.” Karlie Kloss kicked things off in a purple coat, whose oversized, double-breasted proportions were extroverted in the extreme. Tailoring played a starring role, but Rogers is agnostic about silhouette. Single-breasted pantsuits exuding masculine swagger mixed with other more feminine shapes boasting dropped lapels, back gathers and drapes, and, in a couple of cases, pantaloons. He cut trenches in bold floral prints, whose colors were picked up in bright shearling dusters. Even without the benefit of runway shows Rogers has made some of the most clockable fashion of the last couple of years. That’s down to his extraordinary color sense and eye for graphic pattern, both of which were on ample display in this collection’s array of striped knits, which he juxtaposed in more-is-more fashion with checkerboard separates. From start to finish, this show brought the drama, but there are a few special numbers worth mentioning. Among them: a floral print 1930s-ish tea dress and a gown in madras plaid silk shantung. And here’s betting he’s already getting calls for the bustier dress with a sunflower yellow bodice and wide horizontal stripes of coral, fuchsia, and citrine circling its ball skirt.