Paris Couture Week: So Near, Yet So Far From The 'Gilets Jaunes'
If fashion is a reflection of the times, it’s hard to see how any of this week’s extravagant Parisian couture designs reflect in any way the current French political situation.
Is “Let them eat cake,” the fabled Marie Antoinette retort, the prism through which to view this season’s Paris Couture Week, given the ongoing unrest from the Gilets jaunes, the yellow-jacketed protesters campaigning on the streets of the French capital for economic justice?
If fashion is a reflection of the times, as it’s often said, it’s hard to see how any of this week’s extravagant made-to-measure designs, shown inside some of Paris’s most sumptuous salons, reflect in any way, the current political situation, unless it was to provide a striking juxtaposition to what’s going on outside on the streets.
Needless to say, there were no workers' overalls or neon bicycle jackets, like those sported by the movement’s men and women, incorporated into the design aesthetics in this week’s shows, let alone any show of solidarity.
So, the show went on, albeit without Karl Lagerfeld, the Chanel designer who was absent from his catwalk show for the first time in living memory because of tiredness, as per a statement made by the house.
Herewith, some of the most shocking looks of the week.
Viktor & Rolf
The creatives behind some of the most theatrical couture week shows in memory were back on form this season. The duo adapted the current penchant for statements on clothing to couture, by putting boldly-written slogans on long, silly, frilly dresses, some of which came with angel wings. Think statements like: ‘I’m Not Shy. I Just Don’t Like You’; ‘Trust Me, I’m a Liar’; and ‘No Photos Please.’
Young French designer Adeline Ziliox decided it was time to chop up a couple of leotards, and embellish chunky Marks & Spencer style knickers with embroidered decoration above the pubes, to form the backbone of this slinky Spring/Summer 2019 couture collection.
There were lots of odd-looking shoulder pieces, flesh revealed in unusual places, and a pair of dancer leggings that reached from the upper thighs to the ankles, emphasizing the sexy nature of this collection.
Jean Paul Gaultier
The reigning star of Paris Couture Week, Jean Paul Gaultier brilliantly deconstructed dresses from yesteryear, along with their undergarments for some of the most beautiful pieces for this season, and created everything from dreamily, beautiful see-through evening-dresses to curious Bo-Ho clown-ish outfits all worn by strong-looking women, sporting multi-colored Rasta-style hair styles and weird colored tights.
Rich embroidery, oversized ruffles, capes, bows, old-world extravagance, contemporary looking patterns and unusual combinations of colors made this collection beautiful, young, old, modern and stylish.
A playful range of leopard print looks, and suits worn with bows, sass and ruffled dresses fit for a sexy Prom Queen defined the Spring/Summer 2019 Couture collection from this young designer.
What distinguishes one couture collection, filled with bows and ruffles, from another? At Giambattista Valli, the ruffles and trails are usually bigger and the colors bolder. This season’s extravaganza of pink and red ruffled dresses looked like walking ostriches.
British designer (and Meghan Markle wedding dress designer) Clare Waight Keller sent out an elegant, modern couture collection for Givenchy, complete with latex trousers. The designer also sent some men down the couture runway, which is unusual. She drew upon old world silhouettes but made them modern and unfussy for this collection.
Chanel familiars were everywhere you looked on the Spring/Summer couture runway for 2019. Elegant, girly tweed suits, black-and-white minimalist outfits, elegantly worked lace, cute floral patterns, and a 1920s metallic swimsuit, complete with a matching headpiece. But the models were skin and bones. Is it really necessary? The beauty of the clothing speaks for itself.
Chinese designer Guo Pei (designer, most famously, of Rihanna's "fried egg" Met Gala dress) sent out a shimmering collection that re-worked traditional Chinese embroidery, embraced folklore, and ranged from cutesy to daring, with a pair of sexy wader trousers in rich silver and gold embroidery, worn with tiny blue shorts. Don’t miss the re-worked traditional shoes.
A dress that looked like a black Christmas tree with red dots on it was the most extravagant look for this season’s Armani Privé collection which favored all things red and blue. It was elegant.