If there’s one area where Paris fashion week falls short of competition, it’s staging. Supported by brands with the means to achieve their goals, the French capital is rich in fashion shows set in historic and prestigious locations, where the decor plays a real role in the sartorial narrative. He proved this once again in this spring-summer 2024 edition, which runs until October 3.
We have fun in the castle at Loewe. A large, opaque tent is set up on the promenade of Vincennes castle, where six bronze statues that evoke strange snail shells punctuate the space. They are by American postminimalist artist Lynda Benglis, who created living sculptures in galleries in the 1970s to highlight the creative process. It’s a close approach to that of designer Jonathan Anderson, who likes to emphasize the artisanal dimension of his clothes.
The collection opens with a series of knit capes with a knit so thick you’ll think it’s zoomed in, as if you’re looking at it under a microscope. Then, XXL pin-closed wool Bermuda shorts appear, symbolizing the designer’s work. Jonathan Anderson likes to make his legs look endless in trousers with a waist that reaches almost to his chest, or in a nude polo shirt, which we no longer know for sure whether it is transparent or has a print that imitates skin.
“This collection truly represents Lynda at every stage of her life. explains the designer. hypersexualization artforum [magazine dans lequel l’artiste, en 1974, apparaît nue, un gode entre les jambes], Success is when you break the rules…” A pleasant heterogeneity, where the most experimental pieces are thought-provoking and the more classical ones arouse desire.
There is another tent in the Célestins barracks, which is the headquarters of the Headquarters of the Republican Guard, which carries out the honor and security duties of the national gendarmerie. Guests at Hermès walk through ears of corn and wildflowers, a meadow in bloom in spring. “The very simple theme of the picnic is an invitation to escape that can take place in your home or garden.”Nadège Vanhée explains: The dining table is subtly evoked by small plaid dresses that could represent tablecloths, an embroidered white strappy dress reminiscent of household laundry, a huge basket bag made of smooth leather that can hold all kinds of dishes.
Above all, the picnic offers a poetic setting to imagine the ideal summer wardrobe in Hermès hues, glorious shades of red, taupe, white and black. A bralette, a backless top, a bolero, slightly short shorts or a perforated leather skirt reveals skin. The models are comfortable with leather-covered stretchy knits, drawcords allow you to adjust the closure of the trousers, snap buttons allow you to remove the upper part of the skirt, sandals have gripping soles. “I want to make modular and body-adaptable clothes that can go through different stages of life. Nadège Vanhée explains. And it’s up to women to decide how to wear them. Imposing the dictates of a silhouette does not suit our times. » That doesn’t stop them from being attractive.
The chirping of birds from Hermès is followed by disturbing croaks at the Alexander McQueen at Carreau du Temple, a former indoor market transformed into a cultural venue. It is decorated with four monumental works by Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz, whose textile sculptures with organic shapes are inspired by the animal and plant world. This “An extreme and powerful creative artist who never compromises”, sums up Sarah Burton. The designer held his last fashion show here for the brand for which he worked as Alexander McQueen’s right-hand man for twenty-six years, and then as artistic director after his death in 2012.
Patchwork trousers full of history
We can read a reference to Magdalena Abakanowicz’s worn fabrics in the red fringes sewn on the sleeve-length apron of a black suit, and in the skirts where the silk threads are not woven together, but are simply aligned and held by viscose panels that form the whole. . The anatomy of the female body, which is also the theme of this collection, can be read on a white dress embroidered with threads representing the digestive organs and lymphatic system; even on a sculptural dress where ruffles, slits and color gradients evoke the female gender. Most costumes, as always, have open embroidery, revealing ribs, part of the back or chest.
This “McQueenesque” collection is testament to Sarah Burton’s desire to leave without making waves, even if emotion prevailed at the gathering when she came to greet and kiss François-Henri Pinault (CEO of Kering, which owns the label), Anna Wintour, actresses, and more. Cate Blanchett and Elle Fanning. Her departure marks the end of an era, as her successor is unlikely to be one of the founder’s close friends such as Sarah Burton. Kering, which is going through a sensitive period with the Balenciaga crisis in December 2022 (designer Demna was criticized for using children in its advertising campaign) and Gucci’s disappointing results, is undoubtedly planning to give a new impetus to the brand. With a past as intense as McQueen’s, this task won’t be easy.
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But the Balenciaga show seems to prove that anything is possible, even rising from the ashes. Demna envisioned a theater setting consisting solely of huge garnet velvet curtains in another large tent erected at Les Invalides. Isabelle Huppert’s voice reading the entire “Traditional fitting guide to a tailored jacket” reminds us of the work it takes to make a simple jacket. Immersion in making beautiful clothes for the last fashion show after the March storm helped the designer get back on his feet. “Later, I told myself that this collection was too flashy and didn’t look like me.says Demna. There I stopped thinking about others and did what I loved. »
His mother is on the podium her husband, who opened the show and closed it in her wedding dress; friends, colleagues and a few models in between. The concept of couture is always present through the deconstruction and reconstruction of vintage pieces: five evening dresses are combined with a reverse turquoise sheath, reassembled raincoats become a four-sleeved trench coat, denim pieces become history-filled patchwork trousers.
There’s a playful illusion everywhere, from the passport-like wallet that holds the train ticket to the floral leather dress that looks like it was cut from linoleum. And the many details that make a normal silhouette special; like pleated formal jackets or these coats that have a roomy but flattened feel because they don’t have shoulder pads to add volume. The collection is both striking and absolutely recognisable: a very good Demna for Balenciaga. Time will tell whether the brand’s customers still want this.
Valentino, on the other hand, took over the education palace of the School of Fine Arts, which was inspired by the Italian Renaissance palaces. and invited singer FKA Twigs to perform a hybrid performance between dance and concert, in harmony with a collection designed to highlight the female body: “A man can be a feminist just like a woman. defends designer Pierpaolo Piccioli. It’s a matter of mood. » It focuses on Italian short dresses, openwork fabrics and a special technique:Altorilievo (“high relief”) consists of combining 3D floral embroidery to create a dress or coat. The carved effect is quite striking and this technique also has the advantage of exposing most of the skin, as there is always a small gap between two embroidered orchids or daisies…
In addition to the perfectly executed technical achievement, we see that the simple and effective wardrobe that Piccioli loved so much (t-shirt, white shirt, jeans) is made of precious materials that give him nobility. Nothing is too trivial on the grounds of Beaux-Arts, where the lively voice of FKA Twigs echoes.