5 Paris Talking Points
For starters, the weather. No show has been complete without a conversation about the soaring 37-degree temperatures this week. It’s been hot. But it’s also been hot on the catwalks – Paris, as usual, pulling it out of the bag to push forward ideas or cement those we began to see emerge elsewhere. And there have certainly been some surprises, too – glitter and disco dancing at Comme! An epic setting for an epic and raw Rick Owens show, Balenciaga’s spotlight on a dad’s wardrobe, Berluti’s beautifully serene and slick collection, Walter van Beirendonck’s colourful Bowie-a-likes who really did look like they had beamed down from Mars and brought with them an experimental new batch of clothes. Let’s take a closer look.
Comme des Garcons Homme Plus
Wow. Who knew that Rei Kawakubo had a disco ready and waiting to be unleashed? So reserved and restrained or seemingly difficult can her collection offerings be - little or no music, an audience crowded into an intense space, the photographer’s pit piled tightly high - one wonders how long she’d been sitting on this surprise. The longer she held out on it, though, the more impact this season made. Because glitter, sequins, disco bright lights and beats made this one of her most explosive shows and collections ever. It was one of the few shows that, despite a lot of grappling for phones to take shots of the worn-inside-out glitter or doll-adorned jacket and short combinations, people finally put them down to burst into enthusiastic applause. And remember, that doesn’t really happen anymore. To the theme of “what’s on the inside that matters”, this was just as much about the models showing off their best dance moves as it was Rei raiding a box full of magpie tricks. It was simply a standout show.
Just like Comme, Rick Owens has a cult following. But sometimes that can mean it’s easy to get a little lazy if you know you’re already adored. But as the world is currently proving, you can’t rest on your laurels – so in the case of Rick Owens, build some epic scaffolding and create a show that begins in the sky and ends with walking on water. It all felt rather biblical; the recurring word is “epic”. The thud of the music, the hot hot sun casting its sweltering heat over this set-up as the models began their trek. There was less complication to these clothes, pieces centred around shapely bag accoutrements or else they were tunics or languid or cropped tailoring. Here, it was the set and not the quirky of the clothes that was the talking point – but that in turn made for a refreshing collection from Rick.
A key theme at Paris fashion week is surely getting experimental with the catwalk set-up. Not like the Plein productions of Milan, where it’s one big distraction strategy, but in the sense of paying close attention as models come from this way and that, and an elaborate choreography creates pace, power and excitement. That’s what was going down at Berluti, but the clever thing here was that rather than be distracted, one had to pay more attention and found their gaze following the clothes and hopping onto each look. Stella Tennant looked great accompanied by her male model doppleganger; the looks spoke of hot climes and cool travel; the womenswear was simple but right. Haider Ackermann does well in this role to create clothes that leave people wanting them, and talking about them.
An ode to dad, if only this had coincided with Father’s Day! Just when you were wondering what Demna Gvasalia could do to push the Balenciaga menswear on a bit, he raids the wardrobe of the Eighties dad and makes him over in the coolest way possible: he puts him on the map. It was still Eighties, but the silhouettes were eased and relaxed, they were less aggressive from those he began with – and which have been subsequently referenced on catwalks ever since. There were zip-off trousers, which are now promptly on many a friend’s mental shopping list, as well as kids on the catwalk. And that's how the week began.
Walter van Beirendonck
Bomber jackets that became boilersuits, six-pack sweaters, dunga-rompers, face shirts and jackets, and trousers that explored an inflated shape. Clothes here were hybrid-styles, an other-worldy collection completed by Ziggy Stardust colourful punk hair and skin-tight leggings. It won’t be for everyone, but just like most things on the Paris runways, that’s not so much the point.