This season, Paris fashion week had to innovate like no other; with the front rows much emptier than usual and the pockets of the brands experiencing strain. Despite such challenges, however, the collections shown have delivered some incredible moments.
This season, Schiaparelli’s collection was all about the accessories, nay, art pieces. The golden face masks, glasses that resemble the coins used to be placed on the eyes of those who had passed, and a plethora of heavy chains all paid tribute to Elsa Schiaparelli’s fascination with surrealism and imaginative freedom it entailed. Apart from eccentric jewelry, the collection included a couple of handbags and some ready-to-wear pieces that served more as a context for the accessories rather than the collection’s focal point.
Nothing says classic glamour quite like Alexandre Vauthier’s collections, and this season we were not disappointed. Never does Vauthier not stay true to his French soul; it echoes in the flowy lame dresses, sensual tailoring and, surprisingly, ruffles. In its presentation, Vauthier opted to substitute vibrant imagery of gold and reds with greyscale that, even though muted the majestic effect of the pieces, allows to focus on the shapes and texture.
The modern-day chainmail master stayed true to his eccentric self this season. The highlights of the collection were, naturally, the otherworldly metal pieces, some chainmail-inspired, others including larger mirror shards that resembled feathers. To dilute the extravagance of the metal and armour, Rabanne also introduced pieces that were more wearable, yet remained subversive at the core.
Holding the title of the most coveted destination for heritage fashion brands, Paris Fashion Week, often, struggles to attract young talent from the contemporary realm. This season, however, we saw some contemporary presentations that very well might have outshone their more experienced rivals.
The dark prince of fashion, Rick Owens transported us to the sci-fi world where art, high fashion and post-apocalyptic influences collided in one. We could help but assign Star Wars inspirations to the collection; the eccentric eyewear and robotic boots were a stark giveaway. The models strutted down the runway in face masks that complemented the flowy pieces: capes, desert robes and coats to name a few. The choice of pinks, reds and blacks accentuated the bubblegum cyberpunk effect of the show, creating a take on futurism that’s neither costume-esque nor overly simplified.
Robert Wun has become the pleats master of our generation over the course of just a few seasons. The latest collection was all about layers and texture. From dresses overwhelmed with layers and layers of plisse drapes, that even migrated onto the accessories, to suits deconstructed to the point of incognizance, the collection pushed all things contemporary to the whole new level of elegance.
The one who never stops proving that sustainability can be glamorous. In his latest collection, Kevin Germanier turned models into hypnotizing visions from outer space. Germanier’s embroidery work and textural manipulations are not even art or craftsmanship at this point, but pure magic. We saw an abundance of sculpted waists and ruching that read extravagant yet elegant.
This season, Paris has attracted a fabulous diaspora of young designers that left us in awe with their vision and artistic expression. Seems like we saw it all, the return of Victorian gothic, a master class on what the Gen Z fashion should look like and, of course, an homage to the ‘80s both relevant and invigorating.
Olivier Theyskens paid an ode to classic glamour in the SS21 collection. Macabre eroticism was conveyed through draping and airy fabrics, while the sheer face coverings read not as the commentary of the pandemic, but as references to the Victorian period in literature. Dresses ranged from extravagant gothic to classic but still extraordinary slip on ones. Theyskens fused macabre historic references with French je ne sais quoi in erotic figures that embodied Dorian Grey, David Bowie and Elvira.
MASHAMA’s SS21 collection attempted to present the gen Z social media-fueled fashion through the lens of luxury and did so with teeth. Even though the general feel of the collection was not game-changing, it was at the very least refreshing. Cropped blazers and monotonous printwork that reminded Maria Grazia’s Dior, gave us a glimpse into a world where contemporary fashion is neither boring nor lacking substance.
SITUATIONIST presented itself as a whirlwind of the beloved retro references: shoulder pads, large lapels and robe dresses (with the red one reminding us of that haunted dress from In Fabric). The collection used colours to offset its plain silhouettes, which made it feel both approachable and somehow elevated; some pieces stayed true to the brand’s fluid and sensual spirit, and it was their balance with traditional tailoring that made the collection so versatile.