Courreges: The Verdict

In the days leading up to her debut collection for the house of Courrèges, Yolanda Zobel, the newly appointed German artistic director, had told press that she intended to have a show specifically to make her mark, note her presence. So easily can a presentation be missed and forgotten among a sea of showy shows and so easily can a debut go unnoticed if you don’t own it. 



Courrèges Spring/Summer 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION. 

So it was something of a surprise to see Zobel’s interpretation of that this week: the crowded Courrèges store on Rue Francois pumped with music and it pumped with people – in a democratic move for crowd control it was all standing, which also meant it was difficult to see her newly promised vision. Or, as the show notes told us, how “The Future is Behind You.” 

 

If this was another way of saying let go of the past to free her of the very specific codes of a heritage house which built its name and aesthetic on space age, then perhaps the cagoules and techno festival looks that came out made sense. But they didn’t. Backpacks and little shorts entered the rave space on dancing models; they wore orange and they wore green and sometimes they wore very little at all – one look simply bows on boobs, more or less, or not even at all.


It was sort of techno and sort of safari, some monochrome and silver daisies in there among some ponchos; outerwear clearly its focus, lace-up details and little leather hats. It was certainly as capsule and conceptual as Zobel’s predecessors, Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant – the first official designers of the house since André Courrèges and his wife sold the company in 2011 – had been when they took over the house. But they were short-lived. There was only so far a series of jackets and knickers could take them, which is where, one imagines, this may end up too if Zobel doesn’t give us something more, something real that can be worn and resonates with today’s audience. Because this is what heritage houses seem to be struggling with right now. Who are they targeting and why? What is the house all about and why? What was the point of it even to begin with? How does that meet in the middle with a customer?

 


Courrèges Spring/Summer 2019 show in Paris. Photos by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION. 


Formerly of Jil Sander and Acne, there was certainly a utilitarianism and austerity to this collection from Zobel. That’s not really what space age is, though. At the time, it was meant to represent hope, ambition, and opportunity for the future, something new. This didn’t feel new. It’s only real saving grace, however, was a pledge to discontinue the manufacture of new plastics, of course a signature material of the brand. 

In a statement, the brand said it would work to use up its stock, numbering it for limited edition purposes and seek to develop alternative materials for the future. That’s all fine and good, but it should also work on finding an aesthetic point of view that works, too. Because without a desire to wear or buy, it all becomes waste anyway.