Back to Basics: The Power of Craftsmanship

Today, we see a revival of craftsmanship and cultural-inspired designs on and off the runway, produced to reflect a lifestyle that is conscious of both cultural roots and artisanal strength – and designers offered their very own take on artisanal craftsmanship during the Fall/Winter 2019-20 ready-to-wear season in Paris. 

Stella McCartney Fall/Winter 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.

Stella McCartney, for her part, has once again showcased a bold and eclectic collection that focused on sustainable garment treatment. In this sense, her upcycled runway numbers featured quilted vintage fabrics that were stitched together with graphic lines of embroidery to create monochromatic dresses and jackets. In addition, further upcycled dresses made quite a statement – they were crafted from vintage T-shirts that were knotted, knitted, and stripped.

New Delhi-based Rahul Mishra also focused on innovative garment treatments: the former Woolmark Prize winner presented a Fall/Winter 2019-20 collection that was quite universal in terms of style, and, yet, it reflected his Indian roots through a particular meticulous take on hand-embroideries that embellished most of his collection's outfits. Colombian-born Esteban Cortázar, on his side, has caught the attention of the industry for the Latin American inspired fits, colors, and textures of his collections. This time around, he opted for a personal, more intimate showroom presentation during Paris Fashion Week instead of staging his usual runway shows. 

Rahul Mishra Fall/Winter 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

In addition, he launched a capsule collection on Net-a-porter, together with a group of designers – the Colombian Collective, amongst which you will find other industry fixtures, such as Carolina Santo Domingo – who created capsules that feature vacation-ready statement pieces and swimwear for the Cruise 2019 season inspiration, in addition to notable handcraft influenced accessories and statement bags. "To me, South America means incredible nature, magical realism, warm and welcoming people, beautiful smiles, lots of dancing, and authentic incredible craftsmanship," Cortázar tells us. "For the Net-a-porter capsule, I thought about salsa dancing sultry nights in my beloved Cartagena." 

Auralee, a newbie ready-to-wear brand on the Paris Fashion Week calendar, has also made quite a statement with their Fall/Winter 2019-20 presentation. The Japanese brand sources premium and sustainable fabrics from the best suppliers worldwide and turns them into desirable, utilitarian-flavored ready-to-wear pieces – a work process which gives them plenty of opportunities to learn from traditional artisanal expertise and incorporate this added value into their work. 

Backstage at the Auralee Fall/Winter 2019 presentation in Paris. Photo: Courtesy of PR.

But Auralee wasn't the only Japanese brand that made an impression: Beautiful People, the ready-to-wear brand founded by former Comme des Garçons pattern-maker Hidenori Kumakiri, had a quite interesting take on craftsmanship. In fact, instead of focusing on surface embellishments and fabric treatments, like most of their peers, Kumakiri dissected the interiors of the garments and redefined them by putting them in the limelight. "The body finds a new place, standing between the lining and the garment, as the back linings are peeled and worn, and the side seams are left open to let interior and exterior flip," explained the designer in an official statement. In a way, it was his personal tribute to artisanal expertise. 

Beautiful People Fall/Winter 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

Finally, the sense of community and support amongst artisanal designer brands is very strong. In this sense, local identity is a more important factor than ever, and in the world of fashion, designers are thriving when using their national identity as inspiration and grasping the creative possibilities within reach. When looking at the collections showcased at Cecilia Musmeci's sustainable fashion showroom (Le Paradox), we witness how art, culture, spirituality, and origins are translated into clothing and accessories – and, most importantly, how this translates to consumable fashion. 

As a matter of fact, Musmeci's showroom brought together handmade ready-to-wear and accessories from different continents, such as handwoven pieces from Guatemala (Luna del Pinal), plant dyed utilitarian wear from Bahrain (Hala Kaiksow), natural silk dresses from Bali (AWAVEAWAKE), and traditional Maasai jewelry from Tanzania (Alama). After all, it is about what fashion should be: building bridges between designers from different backgrounds and nationalities in order to create a strong community which will influence tomorrow's fashion industry.