Paris Fashion Week is underway, and proceedings got off to an expectedly glamorous start. The city of love was host to vintage sophistication from Saint Laurent, a fantastically Y2K version of the future from Ottolinger, a celebration of motherhood from Di Petsa and more! We got you sorted with a Mid-week Rundown of PFW.
The Off-White show this week served as a celebration of the life of former creative director and founder Virgil Abloh, who passed away last year. Abloh was one of the pioneers and great modern innovators of the fashion industry, and this collection followed suit, offering a glimpse into the space age and allowing everyone to dream of a bright future. A huge amount of variety was on show from minimalist streetwear inspired looks of oversized jumpers, puffer jackets and hoodies that are staples of the brand to high end couture, a pool in which Off-White has never really dipped its toe into.
It needn’t matter though, as the multitude of layered, oversized dresses, gloriously gigantic hats and bombastic prints and colours all felt completely effortless, as if the brand had always been a high-end couture behemoth. As one of Virgil’s final works before his passing this is one beautiful legacy to leave behind.
Themes of punk and rebellion ran through the DNA of this show and onto the catwalk too. Pretty much everything on show was oversized, creating a casual yet edgy feel that was a perfect blend of 80s and Y2K styles. Stone washed denim was paired with sleek leather for an ultimate grunge inspired look, and loud prints from leopard print to skulls to comic inspired art added an artistic edge to proceedings.
There was a quiet vulnerability and intimacy in Nanushka’s show. Foregoing the traditional catwalk of models walking up and down for mere seconds, the models of Nanushka’s show stepped onto spinning platforms and stood perfectly still for what felt like an age, inviting viewers to stare and really take in the atmosphere of the show and the craftsmanship of the clothes. This intimacy translated through into the clothes with a gentle sense of femininity running through the collection with pristinely cut suits with deep necks and flared trousers in light browns and baby blues being standout looks from the show.
The theme of femininity continued with Di Petsa, whose show and collection centred around the themes of motherhood. With the runway thematically set with moody lighting, water on the floor and remnants of foliage making it appear the show was set in a Garden of Eden of sorts, clothes which embraced the raw nature of being a mother graced the runway. Gentle fabrics comprising of ruffles made up a bulk of the collection, putting an emphasis on comfort first and foremost. The raw nature of the show became even more apparent with models carrying babies down the runway as well as clips of mothers feeding their children spliced in between. The collection showcased the power and beauty of motherhood in a wonderfully real nature.
The future is now. That was the message Christian Dior was sending this week. Set in an enormous room with the walls lined with classical portraits, you’d be forgiven for thinking the show would kick off with some classically designed haute couture. Instead, a glow in the dark bodysuit was the first piece on the runway and what followed were a barrage of futuristic looking pieces meshed with clothes from older ages. Slick high vis jackets were paired with flowing lace skirts, arm gloves that wouldn’t look out of place on the outfit of a racing driver accompanied sophisticated body-hugging dresses, and huge Matrix style glasses made models look as if they were wearing high-tech visors.
As the show carried on though, the looks gradually began to regress through time and the futuristic elements gradually faded away. The precise cuts of tailoring that have been so prevalent throughout the 20th and 21st Centuries took up the middle portion of the show, with elegant printed overcoats, velvet two-piece suits and shining maxi skirts bringing the room back to the present. Soon after, time regressed again with dramatic sweeping dresses made of lace, swaying elegantly around the models as they walked, transporting everyone back to the age of the ballroom, an age more befitting of the setting the show was housed in.
Christian Dior managed to combine the past, present and future in sublime fashion and in doing so celebrated the history of the craft whilst also looking forward to its future.
Models made their way around a twisting padded maze for Ottolinger in a show that felt futuristic in a distinctively Y2K manner. Lashings of smooth velvet slinked around the maze along with puffer jackets and coats that didn’t look too dissimilar to the maze walls and a fantastically slick set of suits. Huge shoes finished off many of the outfits on display and enhanced the vintage otherworldly feel of the show, with the collection as a whole echoing the fashion of The Matrix. The only thing missing was an appearance from Keanu.
If there’s one thing that can always be guaranteed from a Saint Laurent show, it is extremely high glamour and extremely high sophistication and this show was no different. With a beautiful backdrop of an illuminated Eiffel Tower in the background, the glamour was only heightened even more. That unmistakable Saint Laurent style was present from the start with uniquely chic touches on blazers, giving them hugely oversized dropped shoulders, decadent fur coats and shimmering thigh high boots to add subtle levels of sensuality to proceedings.
It was a fantastically elegant high end display, the kind that has always come to be expected from Saint Laurent.
Rather than stage a traditional catwalk show Didu instead produced a short film showcasing their looks for the season and it’s safe to say it had a dystopian feel of sorts. With elements of neo noir with a futuristic biker riding down a moonlit highway, a fantastical overgrown forest and a rather unnerving last supper of sorts, the film was a journey through varying scenarios which showcased the diverse and rich nature of the brand.
As smoke poured into the studio and a foreboding dance track began to play there was a somewhat sinister edge to the Rochas show. Not that that’s a bad thing though as the clothes on display also matched this eerie atmosphere by appearing quite dark and almost villain-like themselves. Dark, leather coats, dresses and hats were combined with dramatic make up and oversized nails creating looks that weren’t too far removed from the queen of evil herself: Maleficent.
Tailoring laden with jewels shimmered through the clouds of smoke and, combined with unique shoulder cuts which bloomed outwards like a blossoming flower, added a gentle touch amongst the smoke and dramatic music.
Dries Van Noten
Dries Van Noten presented a dreamlike paradise to the fashion world this week. There was an astonishing array of fantastically vibrant prints spread across coats, tops, skirts and blazers, ranging from classic zebra and cow prints to much more psychedelic patterns meshing colours and swirling around the garments in hypnotically mesmerizing manners.
The insane levels of detail extended to accessories to with hand-stitched brooches in the shapes of crests being made up of vibrant colours swirling around each other like a kaleidoscope. Uniquely, the clothes themselves were also primarily displayed on mannequins rather than models and, taking things even further, the mannequins themselves were often patterned with the same prints as the clothes they were displaying. This created a blurring of lines of sorts between the clothes and the wearer.
In a pristine white studio guests at this weeks Acne Studios show were sat in pits in the floor itself and watched as the models of the show slinked around them from above.
A particular highlight of the collection was its use of nightwear and loungewear inserted amongst the usual high-end pieces and looks. Massively oversized dressing gowns which drowned the models were paired up with equally oversized slippers creating an undoubtedly comfy look which stood at odds with the rest of the show. Who says extreme comfort can’t be extremely fashionable?
Kicking the show off with a beautifully intimate dance routine before the models graced the runway, there was a tender atmosphere to Balmain’s presentation. Of course, this tenderness didn’t distract from the effortlessly cool styles that the fashion world has come to expect from Olivier Rousteing, whose love for distinct silhouettes, monochromatic palettes and sleek, modern theatricality was as present as ever.
A collection of the most pristine and purest whites led the show comprising of the unique tailoring structures that Rousteing has become known for, paired with flowing trousers, miniature bags and enormous boots that could have had their own gravitational pull.
These outfits had an almost angelic feel to them which wonderfully matched the gentle nature of the show’s opening performance. A bit of darker energy soon followed though with equally slick and futuristic black outfits fitted with metallic plates taking the audience from the skies to space and enormous coats of fur and that unique Olivier block colouring adding plenty of elegance and sophistication.
Set in a spacious locker room with a soundtrack made to an emulate a radio broadcast there was a quiet sense of sexiness present in Coperni’s collection. There was plenty of flesh on display as thigh high boots and miniskirts exposed thighs, tops and dresses revealed shoulders and some uniquely cut blazers highlighted parts of the body. All of this was handled tastefully though and with a sense of sophistication showcasing a strong level of maturity.
Gauchere presented a mature and sophisticated collection this week. The French brand showcased traditionally cut tailoring in a variety of cool neutrals from brown to black to beige, giving the collection a fresh neutrality. Blazers and coats oozed sophistication whilst skirts flowed to mesmerizing degrees.
One of the icons of British fashion, Paul Smith is still creating collections that are full of charm, whimsy and wonder. Continuing to showcase the signature prints and patterns that have become so synonymous with the brand and designer, with this collection having a particular affinity for zigzags and psychedelics, the clothes all have a distinctly British feel to them that only Paul Smith is capable of achieving. A lush array of colours please the eyes as well with deep, brooding purples, fresh greens and passionate, vibrant reds leading the way and adding bursts of personality to the collection. Paul Smith is, as always, timeless, elegant and infectiously fun.
Taking place in a dramatically lit studio there was a tense atmosphere to the Lecavalier show. At times the presentation almost felt like a western standoff of sorts with models passing by each other trading tense stares and gazing into the cameras in a similar way at the audience. The drama was equally present in the clothes too with dramatic colour combinations, oversized jumpers consisting of patterns that, again, wouldn’t be too far removed from a western, and a stunning coat made up of incredibly intricate twists and knots.
The king of gothic theatricality, Rick Owens, returned to Paris this week with undoubtedly one of the most breathtakingly stunning shows of the season, if not the year, so far. Atmosphere, as always with Rick Owens, was immersive from the start with smoke machines billowing smoke onto the runway and even models carrying their own miniature versions with them, creating a swirling cloud of mysterious wonder. A sweeping orchestral score only added to the spectacle, making the presentation feel more like a huge Broadway performance than a runway show.
Of course, the clothes were spectacular as well. The silhouettes of pointed shoulders, dragging capes, huge hairdos and swirling dresses matched the atmosphere of the stage perfectly with the collection looking like it had come straight from a beautiful yet slightly twisted fairytale. It could be easy for a collection rooted in such drama to lack a certain sense of reality and soul but that was absolutely not the case here. Despite the high dreamlike state there was a warmth and soul to the collection that brought the entire presentation back to reality.
With a packed audience in attendance and a live performance accommodating the show there was a very playful and uplifting vibe to Isabel Marant’s presentation. Models strutted with vigor and fierce attitude to the dreamy soundtrack of the show and presented a collection of clothes that was equally playful to the setting they were in. Fluffy jumpers with striking patterns looked comfy and inviting whilst a whole host of colourful garments added to that feeling of wonder and whimsy that was already present. A highly uplifting presentation indeed.
There was a rough elegance on display from Alexandre Vauthier this week. The video presented by the brand had a DIY energy to it that also emitted a rebellious punk energy which translated through to the collection itself. Each piece exuded a confident amount of attitude, evoking feelings not too far removed from the British punk movement of the 80s. Coats were decked out in various animal prints and would feel right at home amongst the stylings of last years Cruella, whilst glamourous dresses had dramatic fur necklines that, again, wouldn’t feel out of place worn by the monochromatic menace herself.
With the runway space painted floor to ceiling in a chocolate brown and with multiple huge pumpkins scattered across the room there was an immediately surrealist nature to Loewe’s presentation. This surreal vibe extended massively to the clothes as well, with the entire collection having an Alice in Wonderland feel due to the sheer amount of whimsical and straight up head-turning pieces on display. Dresses that started off in a typically standard manner at the neck extended downwards into the shapes of cars at the waist, whilst others were shaped into giant, puckering lips at the chest before flowing down into an elegant and flowing trail. There were heels accessorized with humongous bows at the ankle and, speaking of heels, some were even put into dresses themselves with the heels nearly piercing out of the fabrics.
Amongst all of this surrealist content there was also a wide array of shapes and cuts that would seemingly be thought to be impossible when it comes to making clothing. But Loewe managed it all and created a compellingly trippy show that pushed the boundaries both of what fashion is and what it is truly capable of.
Japanese brand issey Miyake also presented a fairly surreal take on its collection this week, though to a more minimalized degree. As ever with Miyake subtlety was a strong point and the collection had a refreshingly down to earth vibe whilst also still being creative and pushing forward some unique prints and designs. Jumpers looked uber soft and comfy to the touch coming in a nice variety of cool neutrals and brighter colours such as purple, whilst coats were adorned with artistic prints looking as though they had been brushed on with a giant paintbrush.
In a playful and energetic presentation Nina Ricci asked its participants what it is that they feel makes them their most authentic selves. The celebration of embracing one’s authentic self and not being hindered by other’s opinions or doubts was an uplifting message and felt empowering too. The clothes on display complimented this message being bright in colour, with cool pastel pinks and blues, and by featuring some playful prints which added some extra dimension to outfits.
There was a definite space-age vibe emitting from Jitrois’ presentation this week. In a glitchy and distorted video presentation models were seen sporting shining silver dresses and tailoring that looked fit for a grand space adventure. A red leather getup consisting of jacket and trousers, whilst being distinctly contemporary, also had an air of futurism about it and looked effortlessly cool to boot. Space-age styled futuristic clothing is always interesting to see and Jitrois delivered a slick and cool take on the aesthetic.
Traditional glamour was at the forefront of the collection from Lutz Huelle. Glamorous sophisticated dresses in a rainbow of primary colours lit up the presentation, with some darker, checkered tailoring serving as a nice contrast to the array of colours. Patchwork denim tops and jeans added a touch of casual everyday wear to proceedings, whilst still feeling distinctly elegant in its own way. Outfits were also accessorized with some stunning crystal jewels in the forms of lavish necklaces and dangling earrings, hammering home that traditional glamour in a suitably stylish way.
With the runway framed by multiple luxurious crystal chandeliers there was an immediate sense of gothic drama to Yohji Yamamoto’s presentation. Of course, gothic theatricality is a known staple of Yamamoto’s work so it should be no surprise that the collection presented this week leaned heavily into the theming in a beautiful, almost sorrowful manner.
Yamamoto’s signature use of black was ever present, casting a gloriously gothic glow over the room. Layered, billowing dresses that swayed beautifully as the models walked down the runway emitted a wonderful sense of drama, and the expert tailoring of blazer jackets and coats that are staples of Yohji’s work added a dark sense of sophistication to the show, as should be expected from Yamamoto’s work. Many of the outfits presented felt fairytale-like in nature which gave the collection a wonderful sense of whimsy that worked wonderfully with the gothic stylings. Yohji Yamamoto has proved once again why he is one of Japan’s most acclaimed and beloved designers.
If there were an award for most sheer variety in a runway show this week then Marine Serre would be a very serious contender for the crown. Everything from abstract geometric prints, to Scottish inspired check, to satanic body suits, to skin-tight head to toe velvet extravaganzas was present. Yet, despite this insane amount of variety, the show never at any point felt inconsistent or had any tonal issues.
There was a definite surrealism surrounding the collection and many open interpretations ready to be taken. One absolute though is that this was one of the most unique shows of the season so far and did a wonderful job of balancing both the functionality of fashion with the spectacle and performance. A true work of art.
Words By Andrew Coyle
Photo Credit; Off White, Filippo Fior