It’s been a while since the Paris Fashion Week ended (October seems to be so far away!) but only now I can reveal all the details, insights and emotions I’ve been weaving into this exhaustive visual diary. It was my second Paris Fashion Week and having this possibility to see the shows first hand has been one of the most rewarding and intense experiences. I understood once again that collections are not only about those 10-15 minutes of models walking down the runway – collections are also about people who are attending them, the moodboards, the muses, even if they lived 100 years ago or today; they are about ideas, excitement, frustrations, ambitions, dreams and… These are stories and tales designers want to tell us – that’s how I invite you to experience them.
Magda Butrym is not just a talented Polish designer. In fact, it would be a huge mistake to treat her like a newborn talent, creating something “relatively good for a country with no fashion traditions” (yes, designers from small countries can still receive such condescending remarks). Last season, I interviewed Magda (find the interview here) and she agreed that Poland doesn’t have strong background in fashion; because of that, getting noticed and being relevant in the international context requires some extra effort. But is it really some kind of disadvantage? Magda is a fully-fledged designer who managed to grasp what the 21st century woman wants and needs: Her creations respond perfectly to the current desire for authenticity. She cultivates a taste for womanly, romantic designs with a dash of irreverence. However, don’t mistake Magda for someone trying to jump on the current wave of trends: Her clothes are for women who follow vintage mood boards on Instagram and who aren’t that much into some kind of weird tendencies. The customer response has been spectacular. Proof? In only two years, she received an enormous amount of attention and her showroom in Paris is visited not only by the most influential bloggers, but journalists as well. “Business of Fashion” website featured Magda Butrym as one of the best-selling niche brands (together with The Attico and Saks Potts). No need to explain why I was so eager to see her new collection.
It was special in many ways – clothes preserved this sensual and romantic quality, which make them instantly covetable. Subtle vintage flower prints, dramatic silhouettes (especially asymmetrical cuts), ruffles, a daring game of contrasts (for example, short skirts provide a counterpoint for show-stopping, larger-than-life sleeves) – these are some of the most important elements. I often feel inclined to draw certain parallels between Magda’s work and other design geniuses, who create for a powerful, provocative and erotic women, such as Anthony Vacarello (in Saint Laurent) or Alexander Vauthier. Another special detail of this collection are accessories. Last season Magda told me about her dream to include shoes in the collection and – voilà – we are presented with elegant mules which can be decorated in various ways with the brand’s accessories.
Without a single doubt, the biggest intrigue of today was Natacha Ramsay-Levi’s debut for Chloé. She demonstrated an artistic take on the brand’s heritage, which revealed an element or two inspired by her long-time mentor Nicolas Ghesquière. It will be incredibly interesting to follow her evolution over the upcoming seasons – let’s just hope that Natacha will execute her role for a sufficiently long time to work out her particularities. Meanwhile my undivided attention today goes to Ann Demeulemeester. In 2013, this legendary Belgian designer trusted Sebastien Meunier with creative direction and further development of the brand. Meunier’s aesthetic reflects radicality of his predecessor, only in a different way. The show was accompanied by live music performed by Warhaus and it was a real ode to Ann Demeulemeester’s woman, who’s almost impossible to define – this androgynous heroine wore a wide variety of black suits with feathers, dresses and long blouses, coats reminiscent of pyjamas, asymmetrical ensembles (pay extra attention to untraditional midi-length trousers, who have been delegated to the faux pas territory for so long) and other details which are undergoing a veritable Renaissance, such as corsets or mini bags on belts (aka fanny packs). In addition, phrases and other embroideries on clothes are one of the most interesting elements of Meunier’s creative identity. The brand’s strength lies in its ability to maintain coherent creative vision despite the growing pressure of mass trends. Ann Demeulemeester’s collection was a perfect opportunity to leave the pragmatism of street style behind the closed doors and immerse in the fantasy and cinematographic romance.
Anne Sofie Madsen
The first Sunday of October was rather gloomy and rainy, but it was definitely one of the most impressive days of the Paris Fashion Week – not only for me personally, but others as well; especially for those who were eager to see Claire Waight Keller’s debut for Givenchy; a new Balenciaga collection (its aesthetic, by the way, was radically similar to another social experiment of Demna Gvasalia, Vetements. Are Crocs and dresses in euro/dollar prints really worthy of Balenciaga name? The question remains open), Céline and Valentino shows. My day started with getting to know a promising Chinese designer Mashama, who graduated from a prestigious design school Central Saint Martins and did an internship at Alexander McQueen. Her collection, presented in Palais de Tokyo, paid tribute to a movie 2046 – if I had to pick certain keywords to describe the collection, I’d choose futurism and sci-fi coupled with poetry. Most of the ensembles present a very relevant response to the current obsession with deconstructed suits, surrealistic shoe wear and conceptual coats or capes. Not any less intriguing was Anne Sofie Madsen’s collection – the Danish designer sought to explore abstract themes related to the past and future of fashion; emphasize the state of anxiety which is relatable both to new and already established designers. However, this existential angst was quite difficult to grasp. The collection’s character was experimental and eclectic: delicate clothes matched with massive shoes, gothic notes on neutral dresses and blouses, some geometric elements here and there.
The most awaited show for me today was John Galliano, who invited his guests to the impressive Hotel le Marois, situated in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. Before the show, a random thought popped into my head: what kind of woman wears John Galliano today? She must be artistic, intellectual, interested in (fashion) history. It’s obvious that her appetite for drama and elegance can be satisfied only with Galliano’s visions. Even though Bill Gaytten’s (who is a current creative director of the brand) collections aren’t that much reminiscent of dramatic theatricality presented by Galliano, the brand codes are very much in place. The new collection was inspired by a romantic musical “Cry Baby”. The ensembles were sweet and romantic (but not too much): sherbet colors, boudoir dresses, chiffon and silk, see-through fabrics, pastel underwear, flower petals… Gaytten presents us art of undressing in its sweetest form. However, there were also some mannish, rebellious elements (supposedly perfect for the bad girl vision the creative team wanted to convey): austere jackets, matched with gauzy blouses and rigid boots.
Valentin Yudashkin’s collection was probably the only one with such strong references to the warm season – it was a fresh and positive spring rush sent down the runway. The ensembles, inspired by Kazimir Malevich, were bright, refreshing, of great vitality. They were simple, but not banal. One could easily imagine these clothes in the French Riviera – long white dresses with yellow scarves instead of belts, diaphanous materials, decorated with strokes of red, yellow and orange; hats and platform sandals, reminiscent of pool slides. It was a great pleasure to spot Emmanuelle Alt (editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris) among the collection’s guests. Her fashion week outfit? Black cape, trousers and shoes – one of the most influential women in the industry remains faithful to the magic of black.
My fashion week adventure ends with Junko Shimada show, which also takes place at Palais de Tokyo. Shimada’s newest collection is guided by symbolism – a mysterious tree on the cover of the invitation comes alive as one of the main decorations of the runway. Here emerge models, wearing transparent, diaphanous ensembles, their heads decorated by hats with leaves. The Japanese designer talks about a spring dream, which becomes a beautiful metaphor and tool to convey her untraditional take on style. Despite dreamy inspirations, clothes are perfectly suitable for everyday wear. It would be difficult to come up with a more positive end for a fashion week.
The last event of the week was a Saint Laurent Fall/Winter ’17/18 presentation in its famous Saint Sulpice boutique. As expected, accessories garnered the most attention – just look at the crystal-embellished boots! Despite their exhorbitant price, these extravagant shoes have been sold out in many places rather quickly. This only proves that people need fantasy, contrasts, romance – things you cannot put a price tag on.