Paris: Mysticism & Powerful Witches and Hippie Modernism

The only constant is change. And in fashion, we are constantly witnessing changes in trends and aesthetics, according to the designers' desires from one season to another. And this season, especially, marks the decline of the streetwear trend for women and lays the beginnings of a renewed wardrobe, imbued with joy, hippie and new-age references, as well as with a spiritual and a feminine force that feels quite mystical, to say the least.

Y/Project Spring/Summer 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Alessandro Garofalo for NOWFASHION.

As the streetwear trend is starting to run out of steam, designers in Paris are revealing their thoughts on post-streetwear clothing and its impact on a woman's wardrobe. In a way, getting out of streetwear aesthetics is tantamount to coming out of adolescence – and also leaving some sort of hypocrisy behind; the hypocrisy of the elite who has appropriated and benefited from streetwear over the past years. Hood by Air's founder and designer Shayne Oliver shared his thoughts on this phenomenon: “This kind of streetwear is for older people – for people who have some sort of false nostalgia for a past where they didn’t dress like a rapper because it was too urban for their taste. (…) It's a type of stay-young fashion, and it's quite strange," he explained in an exclusive interview to NOWFASHION.

Leaving the streetwear trend behind, in order to become an adult woman who recognizes and celebrates her feminine complexity, so to speak, such is the mantra that defines the Spring/Summer 2019 women's collection designed by Glenn Martens for Y/Project. A true coming-of-age story, Martens' collection embodies a vulnerable woman who is just as accomplished as she is mystical. In this context, deconstruction and disproportion remain the guiding principles of Glenn Martens' design philosophy, with signature pieces such as double-shouldered polo shirts, V-shaped pants, and multi-layered dresses, which were all imbued with a mix of rigor and fluidity that has us rethinking femininity. 

Backstage at the Rick Owens Spring/Summer 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

The "feminine mystique" aesthetics, which were so well portrayed by Glenn Martens at Y/Project, continued to assert themselves during Paris Fashion Week thanks to Rick Owens, the master of conceptual fashion, who unveiled his new Spring/Summer 2019 collection in a most mystical setting. In the neoclassical court of the Palais de Tokyo, the American designer set a giant woodshed on fire around which he let his models walk, dressed in his signature style conceptual designs that celebrated feminine and spiritual strength. 

Let's also note the obvious nod that Rick Owens made to Burning Man's initial philosophy – a philosophy that celebrated a form of festive spirituality dedicated to anti-consumerism and self-expression, before brands and influencers took ownership of the festival for capitalist purposes. In fact, Rick Owen's new women's collection and artistic mise-en-scène played with values and concepts that are the initial driving forces of Burning Man: a world where "everything is allowed," where primitive spirituality and the ability to generate personal connections that transcend traditional societal norms rule above anything else. 

Chloé Spring/Summer 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Alessandro Garofalo for NOWFASHION.

At Chloé, femininity is just as emancipated as it is intellectual, but lighter and more playful. In her exploration of the "hippie modernism" trend, Natacha Ramsay-Levi, the creative director of the French house, examined the art, architecture, and design of the counter-culture of the 1960s and early 1970s through a deliciously feminine and subtly rebellious women's collection. Thus, the designer reviewed the radical experiences that challenged societal norms back in the days, while proposing new types of feminine identities, through an emancipated women's wardrobe. 

Altuzarra Spring/Summer 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Alessandro Garofalo for NOWFASHION.

The New York-based designer Joseph Altuzarra channelled a similar feeling of playful femininity and spirituality in his Spring/Summer 2019. "I wanted to capture the feeling of a summer love story – happiness and joy, but also vulnerability and fragility, and the thrill that comes with love," explained the designer. "I started with a strict silhouette, and I broke it down little by little to make it more and more liberated." And indeed: Altuzarra's straight jackets were deconstructed and worn nonchalantly on the shoulders; his dresses were slightly open at the level of the solar plexus, revealing the skin – this was a women's collection where body and soul are meant to be one. 

Dries Van Noten Spring/Summer 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.

Imbued with a similar poetical approach, Dries Van Noten's latest women's collection also celebrated a strong, feminine identity; one that is uninhibited and full of joy. Thus the Belgian designer has reinterpreted everyday women's wear by mixing work clothes with Haute Couture details, and referring neither to yesterday's nostalgia nor to the fixation of tomorrow – but designing for the here and now. Van Noten's new women's collection thus played with sumptuous yet comfortable aesthetics that are being elegant and informal at the same time, anchored both in a tangible and spiritual concept. 

Paco Rabanne Spring/Summer 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Alessandro Garofalo for NOWFASHION.

Spiritual is also the adjective that best describes Uma Wang's new Spring/Summer 2019 collection. Set in a Parisian church, the Chinese designer's runway show has unveiled a women's collection that was both modernist as hippie-esque, with a color palette and a variety of cuts that made a nod to gypset aesthetics inspired by North Africa. It is precisely this gypset aesthetic, and its mix of hippie as dandy, which inspired Julien Dossena at Paco Rabanne. The French designer was influenced by mystical escapism, and showcased a rich women's wear collection full of decorative art influences. In fact, Dossena's casual yet sumptuous silhouettes revealed a clever blend of oriental and occidental decadence.

Faith Connexion Spring/Summer 2019 collection. Photo: Courtesy of PR.

But the desire for mysticism in fashion reflects, beyond aesthetics, a desire for sharing and spirituality above all, as Nikola Vasari, the new – and first – creative director of French fashion house Faith Connexion, explained to NOWFASHION. Vasari has worked hand-in-hand with the brand's creative collective in order to design a new collection reminiscent of a spiritual journey to Goa, with warm and rich colors, comfortable cuts, as well as bling-bling and rock-hippie design references. "This collection features old calligraphy prints that express messages of peace. I think that we all need more kindness and harmony in today's world. Together with the Faith Connexion collective, I wanted to express this notion of sharing and positivism throughout the clothes.” Could the infamous "Sharing is Caring" principle become the next big Spring/Summer 2019 trend? We hope so – and will keep you posted.