For its fourth season in Paris, Vêtements took the fashion set out to a restaurant. The din of diners in Le President, a once-mythical gastronomic staple in Belleville and recently refurbished under new ownership, was creeping towards deafening levels, as guests side-eyed the gaudy crimson and gold stucco dragons on the walls rather than any menus. Scratch that, they were looking around at each other, mentally tallying who was present. Any publication worth its paper or pixels had brought at least one representative. The feast they were expecting from Demna Gvasalia's collective was of a visual nature, and Kanye West's arrival meant that food for thought could finally be served.
Hot on the heels of a security guard meandering among the rows of seats to ensure all It-bags, hot-shot editors' limbs, and star attitude were safely stowed, a DHL delivery guy appeared. No wait, that was the first model.
To hazard a guess, Vêtements' attraction is its ability to poke at aching foibles. Proportions were toyed with, distorted with a finesse that speaks of very able hands. Yet the source material consists of things the paragons of cool in presence wouldn't looked at twice. Once banal unremarkable staples, until they were mutated through the radioactive imagination of Gvasalia's crew. Guests were taking note of the leather biker cape, and the back to front utilitarian cotton twill jacket; pleasingly ill-fitting dresses; plastic floral aprons; a flowing confection cut from cheesy Star Wars shirts; and sweatshirts looking like award-winning fashion school projects. The models weren't exactly, well, model-like. Rather, they were an eclectic bunch that all had something a little punk awryness to them. Call it character.
One way of looking at the line-up was to imagine this as a John Waters version of upper middle class suburbia, the perfectly dysfunctional family (the bread-earning suit, the housewife, the nerdy kid, the misfit sibling, and the outsourced help). As the system that gave birth to the bourgeois model goes belly up, the trappings of its former hierarchies suffer the same fate and ensuing renaissance, deconstructed then reconstructed. Or you could see it as an acerbic critique of the industry, in the way that it will gobble up a DHL t-shirt like couture because the early adopters gushed about the brand. If the lighter-heeled sock boot fits...