Paris Day 3: Maison Margiela's Minimal Revolution

What if we could restore the world and go back to the pre-computer-generated culture? What if the overstimulation of these degenerated times could end in a decadent process that leads us to the most authentic form reaching the core and the essential? John Galliano at Maison Margiela masterfully explored this territory after the technology galore of the recent artisanal collection (the couture part of the Maison). The visionary Creative Director analyzed this state of excess by cleaning out everything and going back to tradition.

Maison Margiela Fall/Winter 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

The subtraction that took place was perfectly done, and the tool was the “Decadent Cutting” he introduced in the last Artisanal collection: the classic garments are deconstructed, and the parts migrate through the body, reshaped into new forms. This shapes and decorations cleaning approach has been completed by the use of humble fabrics such as herringbone, flannel, equestrian and cavalry twills, Harris tweed, felt, and coats created in collaboration with Mackintosh. For the last note, women and men walked together in beautiful and not disturbing gender looks which meshed with the simple co-ed concept. Here, tailoring and constructions were conceived for a human body regardless the sex, the sartorial skill adapting the clothes to the people.

Dries Van Noten Fall/Winter 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.

Dries Van Noten subtracted too. The collection was about roses (inspo from “Rose is a Rose is a Rose is a Rose,” a famous line by Gertrude Stein from her poem “Sacred Emily,” which was written in 1913), and he worked on the October roses of his garden to get the imperfect beauty of their late autumn blemishes. The designer wanted to deprive them of the romantic essence in order to make them look beautiful, but not cute. The weightless printed techno silk tunic over the perfect grey suit is the right example of the message, with a 3D effect it looked like a floating iridescent soap bubble over the outfit.

Lanvin Fall/Winter 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Valerio Mezzanotti for NOWFASHION.

Conversely, the cuteness was present at Lanvin. The debut collection of Bruno Sialelli, the new French Creative Director, marked the new renaissance of the brand after the alternation of Bouchra Jarrar and Olivier Lapidus, the post-Alber Elbaz tenure designers. The collection was inspired by the prismatic vision of Jeanne Lanvin. She was a traveller, a passionate collector of emotions and objects, and a playful soul. That’s why Sialelli worked upon a multitude of moods from nautical to bucolic, regal to childlike, keeping everything romantic. But maybe it was a little too much on display, as this was day one for the designer, and the collection could have benefitted from a bit more focus. Even though this new course marks a radical and more impactful change since the iconic Elbaz, Sialelli should move forward from his past interpretation, in a more authentic way, using the Lanvin codes in order to affirm his personal point of view.

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

Heritage was the password at Rochas where Creative Director Alessandro Dell’Acqua dug in the archives of the brand which was founded in 1925 by Marcel Rochas and relaunched by his wife in 1955. He worked on a couture-ish approach mixing the two decades: simplicity and silhouettes were the leitmotiv; only black, white, and few other hues were left to volumes, constructions, and rich fabrics that created the substance of the story for a precise and sophisticated dark lady look bolstered by the patent leather of dresses and skirts worn with high, tight boots.

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

Speaking of archives, Yolanda Zobel at Courrèges also had a treasure in her hand. Timeless and futuristic, it would be the most desirable thing for sci-fi fans, but also for those who aren’t. This collection is a step forward compared to last season’s debut, and it’s more focused and tightened toward house canons, but the editing was too wide and missed the point again. Also, some of the styling tricks, like the disturbing wigs-hats, were not helpful (or useful) to the collection as a whole.

Mugler Fall/Winter 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.

Casey Cadwallader at Mugler is challenging himself by trying to update the brand’s glorious architectural heritage established by founder Thierry. He is currently in the second round; the way to the top is still long, but the focus on peplum and corsetry construction is a good starting point for a new exciting course.

Lemaire Fall/Winter 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Valerio Mezzanotti for NOWFASHION.

Lemaire, on the other hand, was very confident with his relaxed signature look and elaborated it by elongating their famous wide silhouettes, injecting their style with something fresher. Christophe Lemaire and Sarah-Linh Tran wanted to create a new laid-back aesthetic of their brand without losing their own touch, and the result was cool.

Kenzo's La Collection Memento N°4 presentation in Paris. Photo: Courtesy of Kenzo.

The performance at Kenzo for Memento n. 4, the see-now-buy-now collection from the brand devoted to the archives, was a celebration of the endless creativity of Mr. Takada and his great love for food; that’s why red and yellow tomatoes were printed on the clothes. The Japanese creator was also passionate for entertainment, so Creative Directors of the brand, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, together with director Partel Oliva, invited choreographers Paul Sadot and Nqobilé Danseur to conceive together a performance based on the union of different traditions; they orchestrated an adrenaline-driven 10 minutes of nonstop dance with rotating and moving podiums where the audience were sitting. It’s never easy to change the traditional catwalk formula, always a risk of being boring or pretentious, but Kenzo’s approach is always balanced and fun.