Should fashion be political?
collection for Louis Vuitton had one clear focus: “This is about
my obsession to empower women,” he said after the show. “There were so many discussions the last
months about the place of women, and I
thought that this is really an intuition to
want to give power when you are a designer.”
Shown in a maze of neon-lit tunnels in the courtyard of the Louvre
Museum, the retrofuturistic lineup mixed
his other obsessions, too: sci-fi imagery and exaggerated volumes, particularly sleeves with ballooning or triangular constructions, as seen here.
It's a question that has consumed editors in a week dominated by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing into sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. For better or for worse, in the era of #MeToo, a hemline is no longer just a hemline.
While some designers have shrugged off feminist readings of their collections, and others appeared to deliberately court controversy, Nicolas Ghesquière embraced the moment with his lineup of retro-futuristic clothes, shown in a maze of neon-lit tunnels set up in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum after dark.
“This is not a narrative collection. This is about my obsession to empower women,” he said after the show. “There were so many discussions the last months about the place of women, and I thought that this is really an intuition to want to give power when you are a designer.”
He did that by tapping into a few of his other obsessions: sci-fi imagery and exaggerated volumes. Dominican model Ambar Cristal Zarzuela, making her Paris debut, opened the show in an oversized blouson with mille feuille sleeves featuring photo prints of candy- colored artificial landscapes.
The sleeves were the connective tissue between his eclectic band of intergalactic explorers. They came in huge ballooning or triangular constructions, bolstered with tubular ridges, and in caged and quilted leg-of-mutton shapes that brought to mind a suit of armor. “I would say it's more a shell than an armor,” Ghesquière demurred.
With its echoes of “Star Wars” and Pink Floyd's “Dark Side of the Moon” album cover, the imagery was reminiscent of Ghesquière's work at Balenciaga — in particular the curved white hats that looked like shrunken versions of Cristóbal Balenciaga's futuristic 1967 wedding veil.
Ditto a clinical white molded rubber coat that was a feat of construction, in a similar vein to Ghesquière's reworking — more than a decade ago — of the Balenciaga cocoon coat. Nestled in the middle were three outliers: masculine suits shown on deliberately androgynous female models.
“It was my idea to try to be very ambiguous, because sometimes everyone thinks when a woman dresses like a man, it's giving her power, and I think you can be very vulnerable when you wear a suit for a woman, so I thought it was very interesting to play with that ambiguity,” Ghesquière said.
Quite what he meant wasn't clear: was Ghesquière trying to claim a stake in the androgynous tailoring movement that is being revived by Hedi Slimane at Celine? Or was he trying to demonstrate that a brocade floral jumpsuit could look just as tough?
Figuring it out at 9 p.m. on the last day of a four-week runway marathon felt like a tall order. Here's an idea: what if fashion went back to being just fashion? —
Roopal Patel, senior vice president, fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue
This was one of the most anticipated Paris fashion weeks in some time, with Hedi Slimane's debut collection for Celine, Gucci moving from Milan and the first season without Phoebe Philo on the runway. The City of Light did not disappoint. It delivered creativity, design and beauty.
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Chanel, Dior, Valentino, Givenchy, Dries Van Noten, Balmain, Isabel Marant and Off-White.
TRENDS: Utility/cargo dressing, Eighties New Wave, Cali living, boho luxe, performance sport, jersey dressing, fringe, feathers, crochet, silver, neon, vibrant and bold colors, white-out, the jumpsuit.
BEST VENUE: We felt like we stepped into “The Matrix” at Balenciaga's digital installation. The show and the experience are a sign of the digital times we live in.
SAY BYE-BYE TO: Bye-bye, cold shoulder; hello, one shoulder.
MUST-HAVE ITEM OF THE WEEK:
Anything tie-dye. We saw everything from couture tie-dye at Dior to denim tie-dye at
NEW TALENT: Marine Serre's star continues to rise.
Natalie Kingham, fashion and buying director, Matchesfashion.com
Valentino, Paco Rabanne, Haider Ackermann, Balenciaga and Marine Serre.
TOP TRENDS: Sandals and artful draping.
MUST-HAVE ITEM: Summer dresses at Valentino.
BEST VENUE: Balenciaga's tunnel of immersive graphics.
ARE BUDGETS UP, DOWN OR FLAT:
SAY BYE-BYE TO: Stilettos.
TALENT SCOUTING: Germanier.
Linda Fargo, senior vice president, women’s fashion director and store presentation, Bergdorf Goodman
A few remarkable collections took us to new realms and well beyond expectations.
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Dior was a standout as a collection and an experience, both romantic, moving. Balenciaga's immersive masterpiece setting of technology, vision and fashion was one for the memory banks. Dries Van Noten may have been one of our four-city favorites, an inspiring hybrid collection mixing glamour and utility for real women. We also loved Junya Watanabe's denim redux and Alexander McQueen's pretty and tough heroines. We went happily along with Loewe's cool bohemian and nomadic journey. With the perfect timing of the sparkling Eiffel Tower, and the models literally walking on water, we are all in on Saint Laurent's edgy, sexy glamour.
TOP TRENDS: The amount of allblack looks was a bit surprising, but ever-present, making headto-toe white-out looks all the fresher. We often looked to street style for affirmation of runway trends that would most likely stick, like suiting for the next generation, the continuity of trainers, counterintuitive mix-ups, utility detailing, Ladurée sweet colors, novelty trenches and calming neutrals.
MUST-HAVE ITEM: “It” items include denim patchwork pieces, new utility, anything tie-dye at Dior, a crochet and wicker bag from Loewe.
BEST VENUE: Numerous brands went all-out with superlative settings and venues — Chanel, Dior, Celine, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, Thom Browne, although simpler sets using Paris' trove of historical and industrial spaces were also transporting. Paris gets five stars for venues!
Mario Grauso, president, Holt Renfrew
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Chanel offered amazing pieces to wear to the beach or pool. We loved all the prints at Balenciaga. The draped cocktail dresses at the end were our favorite. Celine, because who wouldn't love a his-and-hers tuxedo? All the hand-painted tulle and dance-inspired dresses at Dior were perfect for summer parties.
TOP TRENDS: Red, psychedelic prints, statement leather dresses and jackets, pleats, sheer and transparent evening pieces, utilitarian, oversized blazers, straw bags.
MUST-HAVE ITEM: Pleated red leather dress at Valentino. Any of the pleated tulle dresses at Dior. A Chanel beach hat. The Celine Johnny boot. The gold python boot at Saint Laurent. The straw bucket bag at Hermès. A red inspired black biker jacket from Noir. A printed evening gown from Dries Van Noten.
BEST VENUE: The immersive digital set at Balenciaga and Chanel's sand beach at the Grand Palais with actual waves.
BUDGETS: Budgets are up in Paris.
SAY BYE-BYE TO: Acid-wash denim and platform shoes.
Sebla Devidas, women’s buying director at Beymen in Turkey
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Valentino was my favorite show in Paris. I also liked Chloé, Dries Van Noten and Jacquemus a lot.
TOP TRENDS: Definitely highwaisted paper-bag pants; denim declinations; masculine tailoring; tie-dye of any fabric, fluidity of materials; pop colors/ colorblocking; dramatic shoulder and sleeve details; urban chic.
MUST-HAVE ITEM: Valentino's earth-colored pleated skirt and top, Valentino belts and feather sandals, fuchsia Balenciaga coat and satin skirt and top, Johanna Ortiz's fringed robe de chambre, Chloé's one-shouldered satin nude dress, Dries Van Noten's cotton khaki suit with striped top.
BEST VENUE: Balenciaga with the amazing LCD screens all over and obviously the Saint Laurent venue with the models walking on water. BUDGETS: Definitely up in Paris.
SAY BYE-BYE TO: No specific goodbyes from Paris. ►
Dries Van Noten