The sight of the fashion set's hawk-eyed observers packed on rickety benches in the small spaces of a louche nightclub — the formerly infamous leather bar Le Dépôt — in the dead of the night set off more than one raised eyebrow. "On a scale of one to creepy, how do you rate this place?" whispered one perfectly manicured guest to her neighbor. "J'ai l'impression que notre époque a découvert un moment de la vie où on était jeune," intoned a gravelly disembodied voice. Paris was having its Antwerp moment, off schedule and in an alternative venue; in a nutshell, the spirit of bleeding edge design, of the Eighties to Noughties fashion, recaptured.
In its third season, Vetements has been given the accolade of being shortlisted among the semi-finalists of the LVMH prize. As a collection, it seemed to comment on all those trends built up to be larger than life. The collective hit a note between kids playing at dress-up and the here-and-now trend of oversized everything. One clear winner was the very generously proportioned coat, thrown over a shirt and jeans. The never-flattering service sweaters of security and safety agents were heavily darted to remake them into form-fitting variants. A puffer coat spliced with a desconstructed vest as bottom half, the latter's neckline trailing on the ground. Last season's sweats returned, whittled down to be formfitting. Demna Gvasalia, a Margiela and Vuitton alum, de facto leader of this creative troupe, and his compatriots create with anything that falls under their gaze. Although they are still, if Gvasalia is to be believed, an unstable group with members rotating occasionally, there is a directional quality to their deconstruction. There is something deeply celebratory at work here, a sincerity in the execution of these comically oversized pieces. But as outlandish as these garments looked, they still felt deeply rooted in the reality of clothes: able to be worn, thrown about, recycled into other life moments.
The applause was loud and quasi-unanimous — something that's becoming increasingly rare in the digital era — and in the confined space of the club, it felt like a deafening seal of approval. At the end of the show, guests stood outside, gushing about what they'd just seen. Even Kanye West emerging from the bowels of the club, still wearing the Vetements sweater he'd been seen in at Lanvin, failed to break up conversations. That's got to mean something.