PARIS–For the fashion world, the Spring/Summer 2018 trek that began in early September in New York, drew to a close in Paris on Tuesday with the weary-eyed front row momentarily revived with the splash of a waterfall at the Chanel ready-to-wear show.
Models for the Grand Palais extravaganza during Paris Fashion Week sported transparent PVC wellingtons, knee-high boots and matching hats that did little to breath fresh life into the pastel-colored tweeds that looked ‘jumble sale,’ rather than chic, thanks to the fringes that designer Karl Lagerfeld added to several looks.
Plastics and fringes appeared, however, to be on trend, with Brazilian designer Neith Nyer showing a seriously tacky blend of thigh-high boots and bags with fringes, as well as transparent plastics turned into outfits that showed off nipples and dark pubic hair that was visible beyond a transparent toga worn with cheap-looking pink tasseled boots.
Back at Chanel, there were still plenty of elegant outfits for the label’s fans included in Lagerfeld’s offering. What looked like richly-dressed ostriches stalked down the runway in bold red lipsticks, wearing what seemed to be the finest materials that the Silk Road could bring to Paris.
Fun dashes of contemporary glamour were added to the suits-meets 1920s’ tweedy, sportswear aesthetic, with the inclusion of, say, a denim jacket fashioned into a dress with bird-like feathers layered into a neon, lilac mini-skirt that peeped out from beneath the jacket’s hem.
Some of the Chanel looks also had a certain amount of edge (despite the student-like attempt to revitalize Coco’s favorite material by adding in some of these unflattering plastic adornments). Think a pair of funky, safari-style shorts with tweed pockets and fringes that played into the tropical catwalk setting, just like several water-inspired designs, including a swimsuit.
Although Chanel often steals the headlines in Paris, with its theatrical shows that help draw to a close the nine-days of dawn-to-dusk catwalks, there are many smaller yet interesting names that can be found on the official calendar, as well as numerous other heavyweights.
In July at the Couture Week shows in Paris, the expansion of the calendar to include several ready-to-wear designers, like the Californian label Rodarte, reinforced the feeling that Couture Week, which has long been governed by strict rules pertaining to the number of hours put into making pieces, and so on, was becoming more ready-to-wear by the minute.
Interestingly, by comparison, several of the ready-to-wear shows in Paris this week looked like clear contenders to upstage some of the couture week labels in terms of the workmanship.
Consider the eccentric designer Thom Browne whose theatrical looks brought to mind a series of ball costumes for the modern-day weird and wonderful. One model came to the Thom Browne party dressed as a skeleton. Another brought a horse.
Perhaps the couture and fashion syndicate should ask Rodarte to show at ready-to-wear and Browne at couture.
What’s clear is that the level of craftsmanship and originality in this collection–what looked like costumes from The Lion King, and a saucy suit jacket and tie matched with a sheer gray skirt, held up by suspenders to reveal a glimpse of thigh between the skirt and the jacket–out-does much of what’s now shown at couture.
The rich craftsmanship on show at Alexander McQueen makes you wonder what’s going on with all this weird scheduling and moving from this week to that?
This collection, which seemed to be inspired by women in a state of undress, or about to be, included a sumptuous, padded peach embroidered Marie-Antoinette style duvet/dressing gown, thrown over a sheer dress, embellished with metallic decoration, and a series of richly appliqued sheer, figure-hugging dresses that revealed soft flesh.
The McQueen pieces looked like they had the type of hours put in that might before have been necessary to qualify a designer to show at Couture, rather than the Puffa jackets that Azzaro sent down the Couture runway in July, for example. Ditto over at Louis Vuitton. They went in for shorts paired with richly embroidered jackets that were matched with sports shoes.
Could it be that dressing up when one is expected to dress down is in vogue and vice versa?
Still, this go-round PFW wasn’t all about rich craftsmanship.
Spring/Summer 2018 looked decidedly black, louche and masculine over at Ann Demeulemeester. Her models wore their sleeves rolled-up on their silky suit jackets, dressing gowns and expensively tatty looking rocker vests. These male-female dandies also wore heavy black boots and feathery neck decorations tied casually around the sides of their necks.
Fashion’s techno-whizz Issey Miyake, one of several Japanese designers, like Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons, to make Paris Fashion Week home, has clearly spent millions of hours creating materials and designs that make throwing a dress into a suitcase in a heap and pulling it out as a perfect designer piece of art, look easy.
Miyake sent down the runway a series of silvery-looking fish-scale inspired patterns, and feminine yet unconventional silhouettes, made from flyaway materials decked in graphic eye-catching mixes of patterns and colors. It was one collection that looked well suited to the heat of Spring/Summer, although not all did.
On first glance, it would be hard to say what designer Demna Gvasalia drew from Balenciaga’s history for his Spring/Summer 2018 collection?
Although iconic Balenciaga’s sculptural-looking, black dresses and the like, have been on display from Paris to London for a series of Balenciaga exhibitions, celebrating 100 years of the design house, Gvasalia’s creations looked inspired by someone going through their dad’s wardrobe of suits, shirts and ties and mixing and matching dad’s ill-fitting outfits with a charity shop Tartan find.
One model wore a raincoat attached like it had been stuck by mistake to the front of a jean jacket. But no fear. The modern-day Balenciaga girl could otherwise opt for an oversized sweater worn over her nightie, or a skirt that looks like it was made from a hoodie.
There were even a few outfits that made some bloggers claim that Balenciaga now looks like rip-off Chanel. No doubt, that’s all in keeping with Gvasalia’s street-inspired ethos.
As some of the Balenciaga exhibitions draw to a close, all eyes now turn to another iconic 20th century designer, Mariano Fortuny, as the Paris shows wrap. Those with any style-inspired energy left flocked to the opening at the Galliera fashion museum of the exhibition Fortuny: A Spaniard in Venice, which runs until January.