Setting the Scene !

Huge screens capturing the audience while they chattered and waited for the show to start, subsequently followed by a man splashing around in the sea, the harsh noise of water crashing around him and his struggle with a barrel at Loewe (in fact, a piece by artist Magali Reus); models wearing projection belts at Chalayan, graphics posted up on the wall while a voice read out aloud the show notes; a ghostly billowing curtain at Aganovich from which the model creatures appeared; an underwater world at Mugler with a rippled reflection surrounding us as though we were down deep, really deep; a burst of bright shine at the end of the Haider Ackermann catwalk as though the dawn of a new day, a new world even, had begun; a glitter strewn catwalk at Elie Saab and a purple world at Nina Ricci: setting the scene at a show is important stuff. 

Of course, we all know that it’s part of the Insta-way now. And it's always been part of the fashion show spectacle way. There needs to be a moment for it all to come together and now more than ever that shot needs to be taken. But it’s more than that. “At the end of the day it’s really the perception that carries it there,” points out Vejas Kruszewski, the young designer behind new must-know brand Vejas, which has already been given the seal of approval from LVMH. And perception begins most obviously at the show – or presentation, or whatever it may be – as a vehicle to convey that original seed of inspiration, to elaborate upon it.  

 

 Chalayan Fashion Show Ready-to-wear Collection Spring Summer 2017 Paris

 

Hussein Chalayan, for example, has always been a designer for whom technology and technique have been at the heart of what he does. While fashion still grapples with wearable tech, it’s something he’s been touching upon for years. And here, his sci-fi belts with the running commentary about the state of the world and of consciousness – “I am feeling nervous in your presence,” read an opening line; later followed by “I find it difficult to express my emotions – my accessories are helping me measure how much I can reveal” – enabled him to make that point. The rest of the collection fused bulbous sleeves and typical sharp tailoring, some exaggerated backpack shapes in there too and later some inflated dresses – the hand-raising shot. In many ways, the Insta-moment has been happening for years, we just didn’t have our phones at the ready yet. 

 

 Loewe Fashion Show Ready-to-wear Collection Spring Summer 2017 Paris

 

At Loewe, three-quarters or so of the show saw the Reus film as the soundtrack to the collection before music finally set in. It was at times distracting, the shipwrecked models literally lost to the attention of this semi-installation. But Jonathan Anderson has always been one to collaborate and experiment, explore and push new ways of doing things. And it did make for something arresting and compelling. Clothes-wise, there came shawls, which were nostalgic yet new at the same time, a worked nature to everything enhanced by layered silhouettes, thick-thick belts that were more like corsets sculpting them into shape. The latter is something we’ve been seeing a lot of in Paris ever since Mrs Prada sent them out last season. A couple have been spotted on the streets, but one can’t help but think they still don’t entirely work there. 

 

 Comme des Garçons Fashion Show Ready-to-wear Collection Spring Summer 2017 Paris

 

But setting the scene needn’t be so serious. Yes, there are the likes of Comme des Garçons, where it’s akin to going to a place of worship – the lights maintain a faint mist and the music is impending, the crowd serious and waiting for the answers of life to reveal themselves. Here Rei seemingly took ideas of clothes themselves, say a skirt, and then made that into an entire outfit, the model inserted into it. There were dresses that piled up and climbed up around them, and Anna Cleveland became the intellectual butterfly emerging from her cocoon. It, too, as it always is, was compelling. 

 

 Elie Saab Fashion Show Ready-to-wear Collection Spring Summer 2017 Paris

 

Setting the scene allows for fun as well – and there are plenty of names out there who do this brilliantly. Chanel, of course, is a magic world of sets. But for a designer like Elie Saab, it proved he has more to him than just a pretty whimsical princess dress. The Lebanese designer is a red carpet favourite and there’s surely not enough time in the world to wear all of his fairytale creations, no matter how many invites you may have. But here he parti-fied his look. It was disco time with plenty of shine. Smoke – mysterious smoke – erupted from the purple shimmering catwalk (covered in glitter, careful you don’t slip!) and out came club caps and sequin-slinky dresses, billowing capes and gold glitter tailoring. Rivets and studs, purple and orange, there was fringing and bling – it was bright and bold, his whimsical princess style made funky and contemporary. It was nice to see another side to him. This was fun and, among his repertoire, fresh. 

 

 Mugler Fashion Show Ready-to-wear Collection Spring Summer 2017 Paris

 

But from discos to the deep sea. David Koma took oceanic inspiration for Mugler, the house at which he’s been creative director since 2013. And he’s nailing it. Mugler, like so many maisons of late, had been having a tricky time. It was a house with a big heritage name, but how do you translate that to working now? You hire Koma, whose own aesthetic is the perfect fit. His sinuous and smouldering silhouettes were scaled with sequins, tailoring was done to scuba-fit, and asymmetric lines and layers swooped around the body to flattering effect. Koma has been carefully refining what he’s doing at the house since he arrived and he’s made it just the right kind of Mugler: sexy, contemporary, and entirely in-keeping with what it should be now. 

 

 Nina Ricci Fashion Show Ready-to-wear Collection Spring Summer 2017 Paris

 

Guillaume Henry, too, is doing much the same at Nina Ricci. The former Carven wunderkind, he seduced us in purple – a magenta-glowing catwalk and opening looks that wandered from maroon and lavender to mulberry and lilac. He got that louche and luxe partisan tailoring spot on; he tapped the dark, sexy, and seductive side of the house just right – via boudoir hints and nods; he got that daywear element flawlessly for midi-slit skirts and more tailoring but then sexed it up with a high heel and a mac addition. There came a magenta-dipped version of that ruby red one last time (swoon); it was sultry throughout with some of the designer’s own playful quirks in racer stripes to give pace and verve – that was the kind of youthful charm that saw him make Carven what it was. Like Mugler, it felt like the way Nina Ricci should be now. 

 

 Haider Ackermann Fashion Show Ready-to-wear Collection Spring Summer 2017 Paris

 

Naturally, as well as the set environment, it can be as much about who is in the front row. At Haider Ackermann, that was Tilda Swinton. The pair are good friends and she encompasses that sophisticated, intelligent and slightly mysterious nature of his designs. With this collection he relaxed, and eased into more casual fare – a hoodie even in there to be spotted. It followed that musical-inspired edge we saw in the menswear collection, the colours bright and electric; but overall Ackermann loosened up, did his version of casual, his version of sports even, one we’d be happy to see more of. And in all of these, plenty of scenes have been set for Spring/Summer 2017. 

 

Read our latest fashion features and trend reports in NOWMagazine.

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