Escapism in Paris: Make Fashion not War?

Needless to say, when we have a look at the current international political climate, it sometimes feel like we're living in the dark ages.

Liselore Frowijn SS18 - Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION

In reaction to this, designers mostly seek comfort – but also a careless and joyful hippie attitude – in order to epitomize both our needs for security and today's uncertain times through pop-culture-flavored Spring/Summer 2018 women's ready-to-wear collections.

Escaping from reality and routine, Rei Kawakubo took us back to our most innocent and playful childhood moments. At Comme des Garçons, she unveiled her signature style conceptual women's shapes, at times adorned with master paintings (the Arcimboldo silhouette particularly stood out) and embellished with toy-studded neck pieces. Kawakubo is known for blurring the divide between contemporary art and ready-to-wear in order to reflect on notions of identity, spirituality, beauty, and body, and this season's stunningly shaped runway numbers were once again impressively outlandish, to say the least.

Comme des Garçons RTW SS18 - Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION

At Balenciaga, (subversive) pop culture was at its best and had us indulging in day-dreaming, fantasy, and entertainment. Demna Gvasalia even managed to render the infamous Crocs shoes and waist bags desirable – and that in itself is already quite an achievement. Having said that, not everything seemed to be perfectly new – the banknote print spotted on Gvasalia's women's coat shared a big resemblance with the 2015 design of Moroccan designer Amine Bendriouich.

Balenciaga RTW SS18 - Photo by Valerio Mezzanotti for NOWFASHION

Bendriouich's collection was aimed at unveiling the stereotypes that represent Arab culture, namely oil, petro dollars, and gold. The designer also happens to be friends with Balenciaga's Art Director on social media. Now, is this just a mere coincidence, or are we facing appropriation? Given that Jeremy Scott and Mary Katrantzou did their very own take on the banknote print in the past, we cannot speak of appropriation here – however, the style of the print remains weirdly similar to Bendriouich's.

Alexander McQueen RTW SS18 - Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION

​On a more positive, less sarcastic note, Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen channeled our inner hippie Goddess. Coming out of the 70s, this season's Valentino nymph was all about "make love, not war" fluttery and earthy silhouettes, with a natural appeal.

Giambattista Valli RTW SS18 - Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION

​In a similar attempt of bringing back the very best silhouettes from the 70s, Giambattista Valli unveiled a Spring/Summer 2018 collection that was full of flower-printed billowing and frilly silk chiffon one-shoulder numbers, as well as lace and strass embellishments and bucolic printed silhouettes that were accessorized with hippie necklaces and fluffy flats.

Valentino RTW SS18 - Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION

Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino, for his part, offered his very own version of the urban hippie: less nonchalant and girly than those of his peers, Valentino's 70s nymph comes in a decisively urban silhouette and has somewhat of an edge. In between the industry heavy hitters, we could also spot a few independent designers – such as Liselore Frowijn and her eclectic silhouettes with psychedelic prints – who were all offering their very own take on mind-blowing escapist experiences expressed through fashion designs.

Lieselore, in fact, went beyond the seemingly superficial hippie influence, and made an anti-Trump statement by writing "No Wall" on the cheeks of her models and having M.I.A's "Borders" as the show's soundtrack. In addition, Dumitrascu's series of guerrilla shows in the Parisian metro, Ottolinger's Alpine-Punk-Couture presentation on a boat on the Seine, and Ioannes' philosophical take on how the clothing should merge with our body and soul were among the highlights of this season's new additions to the Parisian fashion calendar.



Another youngster on the off-schedule, namely designer Frederick Adrian Hornof, particularly stood out with his latest women's ready-to-wear collection. The founder and creative director of HORNOF TV, who unveiled a desirable women's collection that featured sharp tailoring, psychedelic patterns, and flashy mushroom-trip colors, was able to re-define escapism with his very own collection concept. "It was all based on the 60s and 70s, and this hippie-psychedelic movement of Timothy Leary, who made the slogan, 'Tune in, Drop out,' which served as my collection's name," the designer explained. "Leary's theory was about the effects of hallucinogenic drugs, how they help you to get in touch with your own self, so basically about the benefits of this experience," he continues, while showing us the many day- and evening-outfits, reminiscent of the late 60s gypsy chic and adorned with graphical Woodstock influences and lava-lamp colors. "It's about tuning in with yourself and making peace with the outside world," he concludes. And that's something we wish more (high-ranked) people would do (wink wink, Donald Trump).