LEONARD PARIS FW18 show in Paris. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.
Christie Phung came to Leonard two and half years ago and has since settled in well to her design director role at the relatively heritage French label whose aesthetic is anchored in florals. “It’s a very strong DNA,” she explained backstage. “Florals can look very Seventies.” Which was a trap she was keen not to fall into, though there was a Seventies undertone sweeping through this collection – but there was no problem with that as she combined swing shapes of easy dresses with technical outerwear and sportswear to make it feel modern and relevant. It was as though you’d packed summer with you on your winter holiday, the bright botanicals playing out on protective quilted layers. The inspiration had been Iceland and Phung wanted the woman to become part of the landscape, which meant she could explore it in those layers and she could wear it – the idea behind one dress being that it was like a frozen lake. But at no point did the actual collection and the actual clothes become too abstract, which was never the point of the brand in the first place but one that Phung very well seems to understand, knowing all too well how to translate that back into the modern world – with this year the 60th anniversary of the label.
MASHA MA FW18 show in Paris. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.
Over the past couple of years, too many young brands, those in the making or still struggling to make it, have been all too easily influenced by bigger names who suddenly seemed to strike it lucky and reach quick-fire fashion success. Masha Ma, who has been around since 2011, and whose aesthetic always borders on a more avant-garde street mash-up anyway, had potentially been one of those the last few seasons. But no longer; this was a great collection from the Chinese designer who graduated from the Central Saint Martins MA in 2008 and who has had stints with Veronique Branquinho and Alexander McQueen. All former rough-around-the-edges-ness disappeared this season for a collection that had finesse, was fully-formed, and full of wearable pieces with enough of her own aesthetic edge. Backstage she spoke of new investment as being part of this; hence accessories too were now added and that enhanced a professional feel that on previous outings had been missing.
JOHN GALLIANO FW18 show in Paris. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.
Bill Gaytten has, over the past few seasons of steering the ship alone, found a sweet spot of sweet fashion that flits through history’s pages: there have been Regency empire gowns and there have been bias cuts and dropped waists, grand hats fit for boulevards. It works for him because the brand is no longer the brand it was and will never likely be again. He does a nice job in keeping it going and this was a lovely outing of debutante dresses and tweedy jackets, pearls looped around necks and the return of the John Galliano newspaper print – on hat box bags. But it’s an odd one. Because it’s nice, but not necessarily compelling enough among the savage fashion landscape of late.
THOM BROWNE FW18 show in Paris. Photo: Courtesy of PR.
Sitting down to a Thom Browne show is not like sitting down to any other. This is a performance akin to theatre or opera or ballet. The clothes are usually varying shades of grey and epitomise a fantastical part of the designer’s imagination that doesn’t necessarily relate to real life in the sense of a wardrobe. It can’t. The shoes alone, an impressive feat for the models to walk in – though Anna Cleeveland miraculously managed still to do one of her wiggly little walks in them. But aside from all of the theatre, the additional line-up of models who play extras, those that wore dog heads and harnesses (not really sure what this was about), the clothes here were an x-ray into clothes through history and how they’re made. Corsets and swathes of swagged skirting, sometimes comprised of toppling breasts, or so it seemed, or sometimes a bustle constructed from shirts. Kind of weird, kind of amazing. It’s a hard judgement to make. Perhaps we go to Comme to discover the meaning of life (or so fashion folk would have you believe) and to Thom Browne to catch a glimpse into an entirely different one.
See LEONARD's full FW18 collection here.
See MASHA MA's full FW18 collection here.
See JOHN GALLIANO's full FW18 collection here.
See THOM BROWNE's full FW18 collection here.