No major shows have been canceled, but a sustainability program planned at the British ambassador’s residence has been postponed due to health concerns. The fashion conglomerate LVMH has convened a cocktail party celebrating the finalists for its fashion prize. Fewer battalions of design house workers from the United States to help supervise these parades. For example, the Chanel American team will not be traveling here; French staff will take over. Concerns about quarantines have people leaving early.
And yet the crowd does not seem to have cleared up. The models still work. And the designers continue to bow. Fashion takes place in an environment that is hyper-aware of the permeability of borders and the interconnection of all of us. Right now, inclusiveness takes on a different meaning. No one stands out.
The tracks remind us of how many different points of view, how many different aesthetic dreams are blossoming in this international city. It is a place that embraces the sophisticated ease of Chloé, the subversive imagination of Rick Owens, the daring exuberance of Dries Van Noten and the intellectual game of Loewe. These design houses have nothing in common. Oh, sure, there are big trends that could connect them – the full pants, some big shoes – but these collections were particularly great precisely because they don’t look like anything else.
The way the designers of these labels express themselves has nothing to do with what someone else has already done. Their work does not reflect painful insecurity wrapped in a layer of embarrassed freshness. These designers are not efficient; they just breathe life into something that really belongs to them.
Season after season, the creator of Loewe, Jonathan Anderson, defended the expertise of each garment. He does not tell transparent stories; each look can be autonomous. He doesn’t have to be in conversation with everything else on his track. Understanding this was a bit of a revelation. It means looking at his work, especially his fall 2020 collection, with great admiration. It’s a wonderful exploration of silhouettes and texture and craftsmanship. Its fabrics are lush, the dresses play with volume in the sleeves and hips. Brobdingnagian pants are both absurd and delicious.
His coats are a patchwork of fabrics and colors; her dresses are adorned with clever compositions by Japanese ceramist Takuro Kuwata; marabou hats floated as the models walked. Anderson’s work sends out the whirlwind of the spirit as he tries to decipher the lines and angles that conspire for such beautiful results.
The avalanche of colors and patterns by Dries Van Noten delights the eyes. His collection, presented on Wednesday at the Opéra Bastille, merged grunge and punk, with rock-and-roll and luxurious fabrics to create a kaleidoscope of joyful volatility. The coats often wrapped around the body, the pants were skillfully soft, the patterns collided with abandonment. All of this was a reflection of the distinctive aesthetic vocabulary that Van Noten created, but it revealed another facet of himself: This is who I am. Isn’t that what we all want? To be able to say that and make the world react with applause?
It was at the heart of the Rick Owens collection presented Thursday evening at the Palais de Tokyo. It was an expression of the heart. He was an insecure California boy who grew up to be an expressive designer whose work brings our dreams and fears to light. His models, in their giant Lucite platform heels, dominated the audience as they walked through a rolling cloud of dramatic mist. Their duvet capes – a collaboration with Moncler – floated behind them. The models’ long, lean physique was emphasized by the high slit dresses that slid around the torso and over the hips. They were like women from another world dressed in glorious cherry red and fuchsia and sky blue tones. And, of course, they were wrapped in the reassuring embrace of black.
Owens’ clothes are cool, not because they exude irony or distance, but because they are brutally honest. They stand outside the mainstream in a place of vulnerability. There is no wink or nod to the establishment. There is just the simple but courageous will to live outside.
At Chloé, designer Natacha Ramsay-Levi offers a lesson in centrism, that is to say that she creates superb clothes with a modern and chic look. They don’t require you to free up brain space to understand them. They do not need to be dissected. Wearing them probably won’t make you feel vulnerable or powerful, but you will probably feel pretty good about them. They won’t make your heart beat, but shouldn’t the people in your life do this for you – not your property?
Ramsay-Levi integrated the work of three female artists when she unveiled her collection Thursday morning at the Grand Palais. The golden totems of the French artist Marion Verboom delimit the decor of the show. The voice of British singer of the 60s Marianne Faithful echoed the soundtrack, and the art of Rita Ackermann, who lives in New York, brightened up some of the clothes. The dresses were flowing, the coats and jackets were belted, the pants were beautifully adjusted. The collection referred to the 60s and 70s without getting stuck in it.
It was an attractive collection that celebrated women gracefully but without fanfare. It was, in short, a reprieve. Silently and deliberately. The fashion continues.
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