Rick Owens keeps exploring his Mexican-ness, which has been pushed by the debate over the border wall between the United States and his country of origin. The beautiful alien figures seen on the catwalk were the result of the genius creative process of the designer. He started with Aztec reminiscences through the filter of 30s modernism, found in the alien headpieces and details on the dress shoulders straps, along with huge lacing on the bombers and architectural ribs. The palette was bright and warm: the signature black was interrupted by yellows, flashes of pink, dark reds, and light browns inspired by the Mexican architect Luis Barragán. His incredible capacity to create a dream from the most different of sources is unbelievable, and his incredibly elaborate pieces aim to mix traditions, such as the china poblana embroideries or the techno tunics with pointed shoulders that turned the models into alien priestesses of an unknown credo in which we all trust.
The need for positivity is a kind of fil rouge in these Paris fashion days, and many designers translated the needs by injecting vibrant colors in their collections using different languages. So did Julien Dossena at Paco Rabanne, exploring the unexpected funny side of pop. “I wanted to explore a part of this world I never went in,” explained the designer backstage. “I took the French Seventies of Françoise Hardy, along with the movies of those days, and I turned it into a funny and colourful world.” The looks were colourful and psychedelic, mixing different flowery patterns, silver leather patchwork jackets, and the signature metal dresses and meshes. There was also a debut: 10 men’s looks that anticipated the collection that will be presented next January. It’s interesting to see a collection like this because even if it is inspired by the archives, it showed us a lesser known side of the Maison that is well-known for the classic metallic dresses which could become a one trick pony for the designer, trapping him in an unhealthy creative loop.
Take the Johann Strauss’ “The Blue Danube”; slow it down to turn it into a postindustrial electro song, then speed it up slowly and make it grow until it becomes a noisy hiss. In the middle of this distortion, you’ll find the Y/Project vision of this season. “I explored the Belle Époque in my way,” explained Glenn Martens backstage after the show. “I was inspired by the flamboyance of those years and the constructions that I redid, which added a contemporary vibe.” The feeling was very visible in the second part of the show where voluminous gowns with deep décolleté referred back to the Middle Ages and the Tudor era with the traditional German dirndl hourglass shapes enhanced by cleavages redesigned with an abundance of taffeta. Martens’ construction skills were there even if the late Nineteenth century aesthetic was a bit too hidden in the turns of small, easy jersey pieces and the shirt dresses shown in the first part of the show.
Even if Virgil Abloh wasn't there (they said), but the show took places anyway. However, it was not the engaging experience we expected after they announced that the designer had decided to take three months off to deal with his reaction to the amount of stress in his life. The collection swerved from the easy, ladylike chemisiers to parachute evening ball gowns, from sporty technical waterproof jackets and leggings to ruched flamenco-inspired frilled dresses. There was also a strong Helmut Lang flair with the white cotton perforated tank top and the black leather pocketed pants. Abloh is a great sampler of ideas and visions, but he would need someone that is able to give shape to the inputs he submits to the design team to let them start creating a collection with a rational aesthetic. I'm aware we are not living in the era of coherence, but a collection needs to be so in order to deserve this name. Otherwise, they are just a series of garments.
When in doubt, call them all, the casting director at Isabel Marant seems to say. The stellar selection of models strolling on the catwalk did half of the work. The French designer proposed her winning formula, adding to the supermodels’ cast a big dose of pure fashion energy with beautiful engaging music and strong lights. The rest was done by the clothes: this season, the rule was wide shoulders and legs out, for wide soft shaped tops and very short pants, some denim and cotton overalls and printed chiffon mini dresses. Folk details turned everything into a wardrobe with a strong Eighties attitude, but a Seventies music festival mood. Marant found her successful formula, which has been imitated many times both for design and styling, but she keeps going on without caring about the other. And she does it right.