Amongst the four primary fashion weeks, London and New York have garnered a reputation as solid places for up-and-comers and more experimental brands, while the stalwarts and more established houses have shifted over to Milan and Paris. As such, while London particularly serves as a barometer for upcoming streetwear trends, Paris cues up into next year’s higher-end styles.
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With Paris wrapping up yesterday, we rounded up all of the event’s highlights:
Making a Political Statement
Since President Trump has taken office, we’ve seen no shortage of politically themed runway collections. Just a bit over a year ago, Balenciaga based its designs on Bernie Sanders’ campaign artwork, and less on the nose, the western wear from Calvin Klein 205W39NYC – itself symbolizing tacky Americana – indirectly poked fun at American values.
Vetements, echoing Balenciaga’s approach, blended corporate and militarist silhouettes with parody logos. Pocketed, bulky navy blue ensembles resembled something you’d spot on a security guard, while models sporting poorly fitting pants and shirts looked like ‘90s-era office workers.
Rick Owens, in a more personal approach, labeled his collection a “Mexican American Dream.” While most would picture modern silhouettes constructed with Indigenous textiles, Owens opted for less-direct symbolism, simultaneously highlighting the plight of immigrants in the U.S. and further emphasizing Mexican craft and creativity. The result, however, looked very glam rock, from the sequined and metallic materials used to the hard shoulders and platform boots.
Raf Simons also went for a more circuitous statement this time around while revisiting some of his punk-rock, counterculture-influenced silhouettes from the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. Mismatched, flowy garments sported patches and appeared pieced together, ripped denim felt like a direct grab, and lab coat-like pieces created a juxtaposition, contrasting something almost organic and free-spirited against an image signifying artificiality and control.
Further running with counterculture imagery, Amiri took inspiration from the original Woodstock festival. Borrowed hippy designs emerged through floral motifs, crochet knits, tie-dye prints, denim, military surplus-style jackets, and patchwork combinations. Earthy and pastel tones, with relaxed to loose silhouettes, establishing the vibe – part tailored, part DIY, and distinctly retro.
For the Child in Us All
A year since his debut for Louis Vuitton, Virgil Abloh hasn’t greatly changed his vision. We still spot the same oversized, slightly baggy suits and outdoor-style silhouettes with the occasional puffer and raincoat details. Rather than mature in a traditional sense – toward predictable yet unexceptional tailoring in shades of grey – the designer who once worked for Kanye West maintains a youthful sense of whimsy – specifically, what’s the rush to grow up? That comes through his mostly dusty pastel color palette – itself reminiscent of a candy store or donut shop – and sculptures-as-clothes shaped like kites. Bouquet motifs and vines of flowers wrapped like scarves offered up another theme – just stop and smell the roses.
As the antithesis, Daniel W. Fletcher imagined youth through the lens of a teen drama – likely Grease, based on title “Hopelessly Devoted,” but in a modern sense, it could easily be Riverdale. Color-blocking resembling athletic stripes, retro gym-style shorts, varsity jackets, worn-out knitwear, and deconstructed wrestling leotards looked like they belonged to a BMOC who’s seen better days.
J.W. Anderson went back to his roots this season. Combining men’s and women’s presentations, designer Jonathan Anderson wanted to mix the hand-me-downs of his childhood with modern tailoring. The result has a looser feel – perhaps of a too-large shirt passed down to a younger sibling – and highlights knits that, if sitting in someone’s living room, might seem handmade, if not a little rough around the edges.
Dries Van Noten, meanwhile, simultaneously fused and stretched the notions of masculinity and femininity. Angular, boxy silhouettes – double-breasted suits and trench coats – added definition, if not a harsher, more precise character, against ruffled shirts and silk shorts. At the same time, the designer took print mixing beyond appropriate power-clashing combinations. Often, florals and animal prints, effusive with colorful boldness, coexisted within the same ensembles.
Paradise, in Theory
Because all fashion, to some extent, is fantasy, designers may decide to run with this concept, or take it in a less-predictable direction. Acne went off-the-beaten path when it came to materials, and opted for approximations, rather than clearly realized silhouettes. Blazers, longer or cropped than average, often looked as if they were constructed out of synthetic materials. Jackets, meanwhile, pulled from hiking gear as well as futuristic unisex silhouettes.
Valentino seemed to dream up a psychedelic, postcard-perfect vacation, of bright, swirling colors – from artwork by Roger Dean – resembling tropical islands and landscapes. Camp collar shirts hit that theme home, while anoraks, bucket hats, and looser-fitting blazers seemed aimed at the practical traveler.
Looking to the Future
Futuristic fashion – that is, apparel taken straight from <em>Logan’s Run</em> or another retro sci-fi movie – always comes off a tad contrived. Yet, that doesn’t mean such themes are off limits. Berluti took this direction with its “Augmented Reality” theme that managed to also be very “now” – check out the slouchy, unstructured fits, double-breasted suit jackets, and fluid shapes. However, a tinge of that retro-futurism still made it in, through swinging, sleeveless trench coats – they seemed taken from that forgotten Corey Haim vehicle Prayer of the Rollerboys – and equally period-appropriate neons and pastels.
Dior, too, stuck with a palette of mostly pastels – the similar dusty pink and lavender we saw from them roughly a year ago – but spilled an ink blot-like dash of blue over certain pieces. Much like Berluti, Kim Jones imaged suiting in a modern-futuristic sense – relaxed shapes as deconstructed tailoring, both large in size and free of angles. As well, between newspaper and Chinese porcelain-inspired prints – jumpsuits went in a more literal direction.
Similar to the breath-holding surrounding Abloh’s Louis Vuitton debut a year ago, Bruno Sialelli emerged as the newcomer with high expectations placed right on his head. Although his background – working for multiple well-known fashion houses prior to his appointment – isn’t quite the same, he’s been tasked with overhauling – or at least imagining a new direction – for a brand that’s flailed around a tad over the past few years.
The result emerged as a 19th-century seaside-themed collection, based on the travels of founder Jeanne Lanvin. Through men’s and women’s garments, the collection stuck with clear images and colors – ocean blues and oranges, nautical stripes and flags, and mermaid and shell imagery. Between these more obvious symbols, intarsia knitwear and beading hinted at the degree of craftsmanship, while streetwear-forward silhouettes, including spacious pants, double-breasted blazers, and anoraks, formed its structural foundation.