Personally, I’m exhausted from seeing clogs on the runway. The reason behind such an unusual, decidedly ugly, ‘60s commune-era staple, choosing to resurface in the middle of a global crisis? As the American tourists in Paris say: Je ne sais pas. Paris Fashion Week is typically the last showing in the sartorial schedule, but it somehow felt the freshest this year. Despite the repetition of motifs we saw all winter—clogs, quilting, knitwear, spacewear—the French brands kept it offbeat in a very pleasing way.
The street style surrounding Paris Fashion Week is looking hopeful in terms of jean, leather and red accents—a timeless combination.
The non-silhouette still counts as a silhouette
We all know the American designer, Rick Owens, is no stranger to the amorphous silhouette. However, this fashion week he also explored areas outside of his design comfort zone. Puffed capes, sequined onesies, and deconstructed gowns filled the stormy catwalk with a nebulous narrative that presumably revolves around a stylish intergalactic guerilla, millennia after we’ve eradicated the gender binary. Similarly, Issey Miyaki employed an unorthodox strategy with his FW21 collection—dynamic silhouettes inspired by landforms. All of Satoshi Kondo’s ensembles felt dreamy and structureless until the model moved into a certain position, shifting the drape of the garment and transforming it into a stylistic interpretation of natural formations. In some outfits, all it took was a slight raise of the right hand to reveal a sewn-in circle standing alone, looking much like an eroded mountain in Portugal or an arch one would find in the desert. Really romantic stuff.
Slightly ominous in tone and execution, Issey Miyake and Rick Owens seemingly believe the future is going to be filled with rocks, utilitarian garb, and loads of texture.
Miu Miu, whose arctic fashion show was presented via video, displayed looks that were an amalgam of the overarching fashion week themes—quilting, monochrome, spacy—but with an incredibly Miuccia twist, as expected. Most quilted pieces were vibrant, pastel-colored, patterned in a wavy sequence, and nearly opalescent in luster (there was even a quilted Pepto Bismol-pink bodysuit! Really creative). It was strange but good strange. The knit balaclavas with colorful striped designs were also hard to miss. I would say this was another fruitful experiment in chaotic comfort. Miuccia has been referred to as the “master of the look of not-quite-right” by the NYTimes, and this honorific is one that should be held with great regard. If Miuccia’s wrong, who wants to be right? Next, would be the brand that famously makes Beyonce “feel so reckless”, Givenchy. To expect a colorful assortment from the iconically moody label, would only lead to disappointment. Famously lowkey in tone and highkey in tailoring, this year’s Givenchy show did not deviate from any previous ones in terms of image, despite it being the first collection from their new creative director, Matthew M Williams. Present all-around were knit balaclavas and ski masks with cheekily pointed ears, crowns, and baseball cap detailing. More on unexpected details (at least for winter clothing)—playful nip slips.
Poll: did Givenchy and Miu Miu collaborate to bring us this cozy Little Red Riding Hood narrative?
Tweed on tweed on tweed on tweed. Did we expect anything different from the notorious tweed peddler, Chanel? Long helmed by the late, great, Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel has been finding its new image in the icon’s protegee, Virginie Viard, and she’s been doing a stellar job of taking his place. The most noticeable motifs from the Chanel FW21? Zig-zags and denim jeans. Never did we think the haute couture brand capable of indulging in playful, rudimentary patterns such as this one, and, honestly, it was refreshing. (We’re officially done with the basic leather flats and boucle suits!) Wrap around tweed skirts with iridescent sequins forming zigzags, relaxed fitting jeans with the interlocked C’s we’ve come to associate with the French house, and even sporty dresses quilted with floral patterns, were present at the Grand Palais showing. I won’t lie, it’s unusual to see Chanel, of all brands, so laidback, and because it is so out-of-character, I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it. It’s highly eclectic but doesn’t seem intentionally so. We’ll keep an eye out for SS22 to see what Viard decides for CC. Another slightly unharmonious, slightly still-finding-their-brand-footing ceremony came from Thom Browne. Mismatched socks, top hats, and gender-ambiguous models donning heels defined Thom Browne’s collection. Presented as an old-timey photo session with floating couture phantoms, Browne’s assortment was many things in one. It was classic, sporty, preppy, and rightfully excessive. Given the American designer’s status as an expert tailleur, it should come as no surprise that these winter-sport-inspired-looks were exquisitely executed albeit hard to clarify. Always here to see designers’ evolution play out on the runway.
Chanel giving us layers, beanies, and zig-zags? I’m weirdly here for it. Similarly impressed with Thom Browne’s tailoring skills, as per ushe.
Monochrome is out for Paris, long live polytonality!
Something we saw in most fashion weeks was the trend of monochromatic looks—Paris Fashion Week was the exception to this trend. Personally, I think adhering to a single tone for an outfit is very visually exciting, but I understand that it’s been done so many times that French designers weren’t feeling it this year. In fact, in complete opposition to most Parisian style standards, Louis Vuitton released an immensely colorful collection with exaggerated looks and combinations. Chunky knit vests under bright sleeveless parkas that ended past the hips were complemented by slouchy gray skirts with puffed, gathered hems. This seems like another version of the comfort trend but one that is still highly experimental in composition. Balenciaga also presented a wildly innovative collection—which, given the Georgian designer’s, Demna Gvasalia, tremendous influence in setting streetwear trends, we weren’t surprised. This collection was, admittedly, mostly black, but the looks overall featured random accents of color and campy digital-era motifs like sunwear that looks Martian or pointed silver boots that have been layered to look like that of a Crusades’ lieutenant. Given all the space/cyber themes and overwhelming amounts of color and texture, I simply can’t say what the resulting trends will be this year. Cosmically rococo?
Two vastly different looks that have undoubtedly been inspired by the digital age from LV (left) and Balenciaga (right).
Overall, I’m looking forward to the post-pandemic shows so we can compare them to the ones being created today and answer questions like: Is comfort just a stylistic coping mechanism for the time being? Or are we going to be wearing knit ball gowns well into the 30s? And are designers still going to be under the belief of a looming space war? If I could sum up Paris Fashion Week, it would be: coloré et confus.