Fifty Shades of Blue in Paris
Paris has still got the blues. Needless to say, with the current political climate both in France and abroad; the ongoing concerns about immigration and racial issues, the never-ending discussions around Brexit and the rise of the far-right in France. This season, fashion designers might have one good reason or two to feel anxious about the future.
The Christian Dior Fall/Winter 2017 ready-to-wear show in Paris (by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION)
And those who think that the luxury industry - which is by essence an elitist construct - is not affected by the current political instability will be proven wrong. In fact, earlier this week LVMH announced that the company has been having issues welcoming all of the 21 designers preselected for the upcoming LVMH Prize for Young Designers to its cocktail and presentation event in Paris. One designer, the New York-based Russian designer Maria Kazakova, had not been able to secure travel permits despite her efforts to join. A fact that forced us fashion professionals to start Paris Fashion Week with a gloomy feeling, realizing that the free mobility of our international industry, is no longer guaranteed.
But blue is not just a feeling, it can also transgress into a powerful and aesthetically appealing symbol. In fact, blue has been an obsession for centuries. Blue – lapis lazuli blue, cobalt, navy, azure, denim, electric and baby blue, turquoise, indigo and aquamarine – many artists and designers have been fascinated by this color, its cultural and psychological meaning and its strong visual impact.
The Mugler Fall/Winter 2017 ready-to-wear show in Paris (by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION)
In fact, this season many designers like Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent, Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior, Virgil Abloh at Off-White, David Koma at Mugler, as well as Haider Ackermann, Issey Miyake, Christian Wijnants, Undercover, Elie Saab and the new label Beautiful People, interpreted these symbolically charged hues. And their efforts paid off.
Beyond the meaning of melancholia and uncertainty, blue is also the symbol of the Holy Spirit, Kings and Queens, and also the one of the working class, which makes it one of the colors that has the strongest high/low dichotomy. Something that is particularly interesting for designers to explore, as the current luxury-street trend is easily epitomized by blue's both regal and proletarian identity.
Jumping on this color trend, Maria Grazia Chiuri dedicated her Fall/Winter 2017 collection to navy blue, the favorite color of Monsieur Christian Dior. "Among all the colors, navy blue is the only which can ever compete with black, it has all the same qualities," read the show's official statement. Interpreting this specific shade in many different variations; crafted from knit, herringbone, taffeta and velvet. Chiuri designed a range of sumptuous cocktail numbers, evening dresses, capes and coats; but also added bomber jackets, loose pants and shirts designed in a decisive urban spirit. This eclectic mix-and-match symbolized the current will of luxury brands to add streetwear aesthetics and elements to their brand's style inventory – a trend where both regal and proletarian codes collide, so what better color than blue to express this statement?
The Saint-Laurent Fall/Winter 2017 ready-to-wear show in Paris (by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION)
Saint Laurent's Anthony Vaccarello, for his part, also acknowledged the powerful meaning of blue. Using a striking deep electric blue for his leggy fetish cocktail numbers and sharp evening pieces, which in this case didn’t come with any melancholy or nostalgia, but with an actual empowering feeling. At Saint Laurent, shoulders are now sharp, ‘80s new wave flavored evening pieces mingle with utilitarian outerwear on the runway, and luxurious sophistication flirts with glittery bad taste. Without forgetting that Vaccarello’s many silhouettes were sported by a mixed gender and multiracial model casting. In fact, Vaccarello made a statement with his second outing for the French maison, proving that his new take on Saint Laurent could be more transgressive than the one under former Creative Director, Heidi Slimane. Something that suggests that feeling blue is not only about being melancholic, or depressed and sad. In fashion, it can actually become a reflection on bold and self-assured femininity. It symbolizes a form of transgression where electrifying change and progress are in the air. And this amount of positivity is much needed nowadays, to say the least.