ON WITH THE SHOW & SHOULDERS! PARIS FASHION WEEK SPRING 2021

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Looks off the runway of Yohji Yamamoto’s Spring 2021 Show. (Photo Credit: Alessandro Lucioni)

Welcome to the final stretch of the Spring 2021 Collections, which, let’s face it, has surely been the most unpredictable show season in history. With all four major fashion cities ascribing to a hybrid mix of digital and physical fashion presentations, we now have a new fashion term “Phygital FashionWeek.”

At Paris Fashion Week, September 28th – October 6th, French fashion houses are on track to follow Milan’s template: a combination of runway shows, short films, and everything in between. According to The Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, this season will function as the online destination for all the spring/summer 2021 collections. According to the site’s official statement, the organization has complied with recommendations of public authorities in order to carry out successful presentations, ensuring the health and safety of everyone involved. We’d expect nothing less, especially since Europe’s Covid numbers are on the rise.

A detailed look from Chloé’s Spring 2021 Runway. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Chloé)

Some Parisian designers this season have dropped out of the fashion show calendar altogether (similar to American designers) including heavy hitters such as Celine, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Off-White and Lanvin. But not to fret, Paris will have plenty of in-person shows including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Balmain, Hermès, and others.

However, the majority of designers have opted to present their collection digitally, namely,  Balenciaga, Maison Margiela, Miu Miu, Dries Van Noten and Rick Owens. And, making his debut at Givenchy, Matthew Williams.

Paris Fashion Week started off with plenty of anticipation and excitement, but no one was expecting a protester to crash Dior’s runway show, and that was only on day 1. An environmental protester infiltrated the runway holding a yellow banner with the phrase “WE ARE ALL FASHION VICTIMS” written in bold letters with the extinction symbol used by environmental protesters appearing on the bottom corners of the flag.

An Extinction Rebellion Protester Crashes Dior’s Spring 2021 Show. (Photo Credit: Victor Boyko)

A spokeswoman for Extinction Rebellion — a climate group that previously called for a fashion boycott due to the industry’s impact on the environment — confirmed it was responsible for the runway protest, WWD reports.

Naturally guests were confused by the situation, as the woman did not speak or disrupt the flow of the show. It almost seemed that she was part of the show.

It was a surprise for everybody,” Pietro Beccari, chairman and CEO of Christian Dior Couture, said according to WWD. ″It was so well done, you couldn’t tell what it was.″

Sidney Toledano, chairman and CEO of LVMH Fashion Group, didn’t initially realize what was happening either: ″I had no idea what was going on. I saw the girl go past, and it looked like she was walking in the show,” Toledano said, according to WWD.

I don’t think we’re destroying the planet,” he continued. “We’re committed to reducing our environmental impact by cutting our carbon dioxide emissions, tracing our raw materials and so forth. They shouldn’t be targeting us. I think there are industries that pollute much more.”

Speaking about the effectiveness of the protest, Toledano said, “It wasn’t nasty or aggressive, but I think her message wasn’t clear. You couldn’t tell if it was part of the show or not.

Here’s a wrap up of some of the strongest collections in Paris thus far:

CHRISTIAN DIOR

Creating a collection during quarantine is no easy feat, as the “work from home” concept translated to seven months of leisurewear for many. So with this new reality in mind, Maria Grazia Chiuri, the Creative Director for Christian Dior, created a more intimate, wearable collection, as she tells Vogue Runway in an interview, “We had to approach this collection with an idea more of design. We are living in a different way and staying more at home within our intimacy. Our clothes have to reflect this new style of life.”

Chiuri is known for creating whimsical and intricate collections for Dior, so her more wearable collection was a far cry toward   cashmere lounge sets that have become the uniform of WFH dressing. The house of Dior’s DNA is in its feminine yet tailored suits. For spring, Chiuri created a new Dior silhouette: the jacket, shirt, and pant, in a more relaxed yet elegant aesthetic. Jackets ballooned into dressing gowns, shirts elongated into tunics, and trousers became slouchier in width. The collection was filled with Mediterranean paisleys, which took Chiuri back to her Italian roots, as well as airy goddess dresses, which have been a favorite of the designer for years.

Other key looks included a series of boxy trouser and skirt suits that highlighted the hourglass silhouette by softly emphasizing its waist, embracing a woman’s natural curves. These are formal yet comfortable pieces that will have you looking effortlessly chic during our new reality of the work-from-home lifestyle.

DRIES VAN NOTEN

A look from Dries Van Noten’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Viviane Sassen)

COVID-19 has undoubtedly impacted all of us, but for some designers, it pushed them into new creative endeavors. Case in point…Dries Van Noten. For Spring 2021, the designer found himself in new territory, a director of photography and film. This was a first in his 34-year career, especially since Van Noten has never even had an advertising campaign!

Van Noten worked with Dutch photographer Viviane Sassen to shoot the images and the film. In an interview with Vogue Runway he stated that “she [Sassen] captures the moment in a very good way. There’s a directness and she works fast and spontaneously.” For spring, the designer presented both his men’s and womenswear collections simultaneously, which was also a first for Van Noten.

The photographs were shot on a beach and the setting was the perfect backdrop to the collection, which was filled with board shorts, Bermudas, swimsuits, netted knit tops, and easy cotton jackets worn by both boys and girls – all in psychedelic prints of the sun, moons, palm trees and bars of light. “We wanted to work around beauty [that] evokes energy—not one that makes you dream or linger on things that are past, which makes you nostalgic,” he says. “It had to push you to the future, to give energy.”

BALMAIN

At Balmain, it was all theatrics. The show opened with Olivier Rousteing, the house’s young creative director,  sitting on a wooden stool as six established models slowly strolled the runway from one side to the other as they tilted their hips and twirled to the audience’s delight. The mood was perfect. Rousteing adapted Balmain’s 1970s archived looks in gray cashmere along with the houses’ monogramed logo. The soundtrack for the show included Pierre Balmain himself saying, “Black is the only color young people can wear more successfully than old people. A young girl dressed in black is always tremendously beautiful. An older woman in black can be dreary. That’s why black is not an old color, it’s a young color. Black velvet is the epitome of young and sexy. Because there is also a touch of sex in fashion now.

Once the six models and Rousteing exited the runway, then the real show began, with four models (two male and two  female) in sharply tailored neon suits as The Weekend’s “Blinding Lights” tune echoed on the soundtrack. There was no streetwear here, no cozy WFH looks. This was pure power dressing with bold suits for men and women that ranged from wide shoulder jackets to pagoda-shouldered blazers. Rousteing also presented a group of grey suits that were very Armani.

The collection then segued to denim, a true staple in everyone’s wardrobe. The washed denim looks ranged from classic boot leg jeans and shorts, to a wide range of outerwear. Then came the eveningwear, which the Kardashian and Jenner sisters will surely rock, with two-piece dresses and slinky slip dresses. But the real showstopper was the two adorable kids that closed out the show in miniature gray suits. It was all so magnifique!

RICK OWENS

A global pandemic and political unrest were the perfect inspiration for Rick Owens and his post-apocalyptic collection. Let’s just say that as the godfather of Goth Glam, this collection did not disappoint his fans. His women’s show was titled “Phlegethon.” In Greek mythology, the Phlegethon was one of the five rivers of the Underworld, less famous than the Styx, but just as deadly. In Dante’s Inferno, it was a river of blood that boiled souls. Dark and eerie yes, but the clothes were Owens at his best.

Owens channeled Tina Turner in “Thunderdome” with his powerful shoulder looks. Maybe he was sending us all a message? The axiom of  having “broad shoulders,”  which is the ability and/or willingness to accept multiple demands and responsibilities. Seems appropriate for these times. And there were vests and leather cutoffs that looked like they could double as tactical gear. This dystopian-like collection was filled with the accessory of the moment, facemasks, because in today’s world, it’s a necessity AND NOT OPTIONAL. “A mask kind of works with my clothes,” Owens said in an interview with Vogue Runway, “but it’s also a vote. It’s also promoting consideration of others. You might not believe in a mask, but it sends the right message.

The allure of an Owens show is that as dark and disturbing as his theme may be—as hellish as we all feel—he inevitably leaves you excited and energized. There was also a message of hope and the promise of better days ahead, as Owens showed his softer side with shades of pink, red and yellow to transform his customer to a happier place.

LOEWE

A look from Loewe’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Loewe)

Loewe’s spring collection is a joyful celebration of fashion in a time when we can all use a jolt of happiness. In an interview with Vogue Runway, creative director Jonathan Anderson stated, “We have to start loving fashion again. We don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring. So let’s enjoy it!

Just one page of Loewe’s spring 2021 Lookbook says it all. You can feel the excitement of the collection as the models are all in animated and energetic poses, bringing the collection to life. As for the clothes, Anderson created a whimsical collection that plays with volume and shape. Key looks included a puffy white dress ruched with parachute tape; a generously layered black taffeta trapeze dress; a crisp scalloped-edge broderie anglaise dress with wires sewn into the collar and skirt; as well as balloon-shaped trousers and sleeves.

These humorous pieces will surely leave a smile on your face.

ISABEL MARANT

Just like Jonathan Anderson’s Loewe collection, Isabel Marant similarly turned out a lively and upbeat collection with a runway show that may have caused some guests to feel uncomfortable, because after all, we are still living through a pandemic. Marant staged her show at the Palais Royal and was billed as ‘a night out in the club,’ reminiscent of  happier times. While we all long for a return to normalcy, it was reported that guests at Marant’s show plonked themselves down so close to each other, with zero respect for social distancing. Though you really can’t blame the designer if guests choose not to sit six feet apart from one another in an outdoor venue,  but the last thing anyone wants is a super spreader event like the one held last week in the Rose Garden at the White House, where eight people so far have been infected with the virus, including the President and First Lady.

In an interview with Vogue Runway, Marant stated, “For me, fashion is about enjoying life. It has to be positive. It’s a release of energy to people, putting bad vibes behind.” There were no bad vibes here, only ‘80s-centric clothes suspended someplace between Saint-Germain and Manhattan, all with Marant’s signature glamour and with an extra dosage of high shine and luster. Looks ranged from mutton sleeve tops paired with metallic overalls to embroidered bohemian blouses and micro shorts for Marant’s version of daywear. Temperatures rose for her evening portion with mini-dresses in glossy fabrics and a leather corset top paired with shimmering leggings. While Marant’s collection may be a tad too sexy for the state of the world today, it does give us the promise that in time, we will return to “the old days.”

STREET STYLE STARS

And what would Paris Fashion Week be without some great Street Style looks? Sometimes the best shows in Paris are viewed on its city streets. Which reminds me…be sure to catch the new 10 episode Netflix series, Emily in Paris, which stars Lily Collins as Emily, and was created by Darren Star of Sex in the City fame and with costumes by Patricia Field. Get ready for some very fashionable moments!

Paris brought back the Street Style Stars. (Photo Credit: Acielle for Style du Monde)

Streetstyle Star Bryanboy attends Paris Fashion Week. (Photo Credit: Acielle for Style du Monde)

Actress Maisie Williams and Reuben Selby attending the Dior Show. (Photo Credit: Acielle for Style du Monde)

Shows may still be going on, but tell us, which show was your favorite so far?

 

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Antonia Sardone

Antonia Sardone

Antonia Sardone is a new contributor to the University of Fashion. She is also a freelance fashion consultant, stylist and writer. Antonia Sardone graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in Advertising Communications, Marketing and Fashion Journalism. She is an industry veteran having worked for WWD for over fifteen years and has strong relationships with designers worldwide. Today, Antonia Sardone continues to write reviews for WWD as well as work with many contemporary designers on a variety of projects from helping to re-launch their websites to writing their brand books. She enjoys raising her children to be creative individuals, as well as styling, writing and traveling.