- Jackie Mallon |
Serving up unpredictability, freshness, and provocation, Paris Fashion Week continues to cast a shadow over Milan, London, and New York. Its runways reveal much of what we’ve seen over this fashion month to be nothing but expensive clothes, just more stuff. In the era of landfills, labor abuses, and lazy consumerism, Paris Fashion Week reminds us that we should expect more. Here are the reasons for Paris Fashion Week’s supremacy.
It appreciates the wisdom of age
Historical allure and craftsmanship passed down through generations are qualities that pretenders to Parisian sovereignty can only dream of as they bat about marketing buzzwords such as “heritage” or “iconic.” Hermès, founded in 1837, is the oldest fashion house still in operation, originally producing saddles and equestrian supplies, now creating endless waiting lists for its five-figure Kelly and Birkin bags. Following closely behind is trunk maker-turned luxury streetwear player, Louis Vuitton, founded in 1854, which through an out-of-leftfield collaboration with Supreme and bold recent hire has maneuvered itself to the forefront of fashion and the center of youth culture. Chanel, founded in 1909, remains untouchable under Karl Lagerfeld. Balmain (1945), Christian Dior (1946), Givenchy (1952) Saint Laurent (1961) are all going strong despite their founders being gone. Paris is also awakening its sleeping beauties: the 1903 house of Poiret was reopened and dusted off for fall under design direction of Yiqing Yin, and this week it was announced that Jean Patou is to be relaunched under the direction of Guillaume Henry, formerly of Nina Ricci.
Gucci SS19, Catwalkpictures.com
It boasts the most must-see reveals
During menswear week, all eyes were on what Virgil Abloh would do at Louis Vuitton, and how Kim Jones would raise the profile of drowsy Dior homme. Similarly now for womenswear, we look forward to Yolanda Zobel’s debut at Courrèges and of course the return of the enigmatic and super-successful Hedi Slimane for Celine. Already lined up for fall we anticipate Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh’s collection for Nina Ricci and, who knows, might we finally be welcoming a new creative director to fill the hotseat at Lanvin?
It poaches with the promise of prestige
In recent seasons, Paris lured Rodarte, Proenza Schouler and Altuzarra away from New York, but this season Gucci, the goiello of Milan’s crown whose multi-faceted brilliance has reflected across all of Italian fashion, decamped to sparkle in the city of light. It’s worth noting that the Camera Nazionale de la Moda, Italian fashion’s governing body, chose to leave Gucci’s name on Milan’s official show calendar, a tacit admittance that there is no show without Michele’s Punch.
It is multigenerational
Young and old, arriviste and old guard, all sit at the same table in Paris. 26-year-old Marine Serre has only two seasons under her belt but is already the darling of Paris. Simon Porte Jacquemus who launched his brand at age 19 has become a legitimate purveyor of modern riviera chic. Meanwhile London is flooded with youthful energy but it seems to snuff out the life of the establishment (Paul Smith, Nicole Farhi, Aquascutum), and in Milan there continues to be an adult’s table and a children’s one at which sits Marco de Vincenzo, Stella Jean, Arthur Arbesser. The names Arbesser and Armani are only spoken together when explaining that the former trained under the latter. Milan’s young blood cannot seem to ascend in the hierarchy.
Dries Van Noten SS19, Catwalkpictures.com
It doesn’t sell its soul when it sells shares
Dries Van Noten fans, anxious that Puig’s majority investment would change the label’s winning recipe, breathed a huge sigh of relief on Tuesday. Money did not mutate the magic, and the Belgian who has made a successful business from asserting his independence has evidently welcomed the injection of capital while rejecting any change of artistic vision. The news that American company Michael Kors Holdings, now rebranded Capri Holdings, has purchased Italian giant Versace strikes similar fear into many hearts but perhaps with more just cause as Versace has struggled to grow sales, often running at a loss, despite its lauded collections. Will the dynamic sex appeal of the gilt medusa, the epitome of heady aspiration, be dulled by a heightened focus on tawdry commerce?
Marine Serre SS19, Catwalkpictures.com
It captures the now
Marine Serre’s entirely upcycled collection entitled Hardcore Couture, in which she applied couture techniques to materials that she found for 2 or 3 euro, demonstrates that while Paris’s snooty nose has traditionally been in the air, it also has boots on the ground. While the city’s fashion output isn’t as synonymous with streetwear as New York or London, it divined gold by snagging high-profile streetwear designers such as Abloh to guide its premier luxury label directly into the open arms of awaiting millennials. Consequently Off-White appears on this fashion week schedule sending an atypical array of athletes and sports stars down the runway. Further evidence that Paris is burning is Rick Owen’s spiky-armored females stalking around a flaming pyre bearing torches on the same day that the U.S. is consumed with Christine Blasey Ford delivering her testimony alleging sexual assault against Trump’s supreme court nominee. Or John Galliano’s collection for Maison Margiela, accompanied by the slogan “There is no such thing as normal” which decimated that convenient little bridge known as “gender fluid” and took us directly to the land of “genderless.” Now there’s no going back.
Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry.
Gucci SS19, Catwalkpictures.com