What do you see at a fashion show? Clothes that will be in stores six months later, of course. Trunk image material for Instagram, of course. Some designers at Paris fashion week, which takes place from February 28 to March 8, go further. Conceptual reflections, humanist and pacifist declarations, ecological ambitions… For them, clothing is not an end in itself, but a vector of messages.
Since his arrival at Loewe in 2013, Jonathan Anderson has been recognized for offering a fruitful reflection on the form and meaning of clothes in each show. This season is no exception with a collection that borders on the conceptual, where the garments do not follow the curves of the body. The show opens with a leather dress that seems to have blown in the wind creating ripples around the legs and shoulders… but this dress is perfectly rigid, as it is a beading.
“I wanted to develop non-sensitive and irrational silhouettes, details the designer. Mix what doesn’t go together. » Thus, she proposes a bustier dress in the shape of a car, another where some shoes are placed between two thicknesses of latex around the waist, a trompe l’oeil flesh-colored sheath that gives a sensation of nudity… There are also fun details, such as These pump heels are shaped like a balloon filled with air squeezed by a rubber band, ready to explode. Or this irregularly shaped fur skirt like the skin of a prehistoric animal that is worn with a transparent latex top. “I like that this fabric is controversial, that it can be used in contexts as different as cleaning or sex”the designer laughs.
Gray glaciers and polar bears
Arriving at the head of Chloé in December 2020, Gabriela Hearst made the Parisian brand take an ecological turn that concerns substance as well as form. “The climate crisis terrifies me, explains the Uruguayan designer based in New York, minutes before her fashion show. I tried to think of ways to get out of that and decided that each collection would offer a solution. » This season, Gabriela Hearst bets on the “renaturation”which refers to the reestablishment of extinct animal species or the absence of human intervention in a region.
It is displayed, among other things, on double-sided garments: on the front, a representation of greyish glaciers melting; on the reverse, an ice floe that has turned steel blue again, populated by polar bears. These images might seem naïve if they weren’t executed with Gabriela Hearst’s signature delicacy: intarsia knit over recycled cashmere for the sweaters, hand-painted for the accessories. In addition to these exceptional pieces, her wardrobe displays a luxurious understatement, such as a black leather trench coat adorned with delicate ruffles on the shoulders, which she took inspiration from La Victoire de Samothrace in the Louvre. She is meant to support women in their social ascent: “I want them to take power, to do politics, to administer, to organize countries. We need it “she sighs.
Marine Serre invites Lafayette Anticipations into her world. In front of the door, the crowd is such that some guests cannot enter. The sign that the 30-year-old Frenchwoman has become a firm that counts. The one that has built a coherent and recognizable label has imagined this time an exhibition (open to the public on March 5 and 6) that explains her creative process. “I asked myself a lot: how do we discuss today with the industry and the public? How to recontextualize fashion in its human dimension? » The opening opens with a fashion show where models wear their tattoo-patterned jumpsuits, coats constructed of plaid scarves, velvet devoré dresses, and shamanic jewelry.
A cocktail party follows, during which everyone can visit the hanging, on three floors. One level brings together real fake Flemish paintings, another is dedicated to the materials the brand uses. On the ground floor, we meet with the workshop staff around the sewing machines, to understand the development of the parts. “recycling” (representing 50% of the collection): classification of recovered clothing, cutting, sewing, finishing. “I wanted people to see that the craftsman who sorts the materials is really knowledgeable. It is he who must take the light, more than me or even the garment.Marina Serre says. What interests me, basically, is less fashion than lifestyle. »
Balenciaga is one of the most anticipated fashion shows for its daring fashion and spectacular staging; but also, this season, because the artistic director, Demna Gvasalia (who now goes by simply Demna), is a Georgian who fled his country in 1993, during the Kremlin-backed civil war, and who is one of the rare designers in front of a large house to have reacted to the Russian invasion in the Ukraine. In the preamble to his show, the designer sent a message to the guests and on Instagram expressing “his past trauma” when it became “forever a refugee”. In a few words he explains to what extent this new war arouses his pain, his hesitation to cancel this parade that seemed to him ” absurd “. And his decision to keep it for not “give in to evil that [l’]it has already hurt so much almost thirty years ago».
In a hangar at Le Bourget airport, he had a large mound of snow installed under a transparent circular hood that separates the guests from the models. An artificial storm begins at the same time as the show, snow falls from the roof, dispersed by a powerful wind. The models, whether dressed in evening gowns or simple bath towels slung over their shoulders, are unprepared to face such hostile elements and limp along. Most carry at arm’s length a large bundle that looks like a garbage bag into which items have been hastily piled.
“I imagined this scenery six months ago, and my purpose was rather a reflection on the disappearance of natural snow in the future. [à la suite du réchauffement climatique] »explains Demna after his parade. “I imagined an endless, open blank space, a place of hope. But in such a context, the result is very different. » Certainly impossible not to see a symbol in the glass that separates the comfortably installed spectators from the models struggling with uncontrollable torment. It is also impossible not to salute the talent of Demna, who manages to express himself with precision on a subject as delicate as war.
What meaning can the garment still retain when the turbulence arrives? Rick Owens replies, in his parade note of intent, that in “This period of threat and conflict, [la mode] we can express what we approve of, what we aspire to”. In the Palais de Tokyo, the American develops survivors in the fifth symphony by Mahler. They walk with their heads held high and their thigh-high boots giddy, holding portable machines in their hands that spew white smoke.
In three movements, the space is filled with a thick fog, to the point that the photographers, indignant at seeing their lenses obstructed, cry out. The guests are struck by the beauty of the silhouettes that turn like ghosts, in black but also in yellows, pale pinks or bright oranges. One has to squint, like explorers, to admire the sequined dresses, round-shouldered jackets, cashmere knits and bias-cut velvet dresses, all to a frenzy of applause. What better than to say that fashion and the world advance without a compass, in the fog?