Political unrest, devastating natural disasters, fear of war, the economy, racism, the #me too movement, every day we are all bombarded with negative news, not only from our own backyard, but around the globe. At times, it feels as if we live in a mad, mad world.
So, when friends who are not in the fashion industry ask: “How can you think about fashion during these volatile times?” the answer… it’s not easy. The fashion industry is a Goliath worldwide business. According to Statista, revenue of the U.S. Apparel Industry in 2018 was estimated at $102,820 million. Globally the retail value of luxury goods is estimated at $339.4 billion (according to Fashion United). But aside from the economic value of the fashion industry, there is also a psychological one – fashion is a great escape from the real world. And, this fashion season delivered!
Not only were the shows theatrical, but the craftsmanship and the use of bold, eye-popping color all contributed to an upbeat and happy escape from reality. Exactly what the doctor ordered.
Let’s take a look at what was happening at the Paris shows, which included debut and controversy at Celine, gender-diversity on the runway, avant-garde escapism and a space age look into a better future.
A NEW DAY AT CELINE
Hedi Slimane’s debut collection for Celine was filled with mixed reviews. Even before his show, Slimane caused controversy by rebranding the company’s logo, removing the accent aigu (Céline). As editors, influencers, buyers and celebrities eagerly awaited Slimane’s collection, many were disappointed that he replicated exactly what he did at Saint Laurent (2012-2016) and his past collections for Dior Homme (2000-2007). Slimane fired back, targeting the American press and charging them with ‘homophobia.’ I mean, really?
For many, the re-branding at the hands of Slimane was the complete and utter destruction of Celine’s house codes and Phoebe Philo’s legacy, whose fan base expects smart, chic, and intellectual collections. Some even called Simane’s debut collection, ‘Saint Celine.’
And here’s why. The collection had a glam-grunge, rock n’ roll sensibility. There was a nod to the Eighties, with big shoulder silhouettes, exaggerated pouf details, mini lengths and plenty of shine. Maybe perfect for dancing the night away at your favorite trendy hot spot but not what the house is generally known for. Just goes to show that taking over as creative director at a heritage house is no simple task!
Slimane also introduced menswear to Celine, showing perfectly tailored skinny pantsuits that have become his signature look. But, ladies don’t fret, these looks are unisex as well.
On the retail front it will be interesting to see, whether Celine’s customers take to the ‘new vision’ or will Slimane’s consumer be his old Saint Laurent clientele. Only time will tell.
THE AGE OF ANDROGYNY
As the cultural discussion on gender identity keeps moving forward, designers are embracing the shift in acceptance and are positioning their brands to be all inclusive by showing their menswear and womenswear collections together, casting transgender models, and even launching entire unisex collections.
At Givenchy, Clare Waight Keller took cues from 1930s gender-bending writer and adventurer Annemarie Schwarzenbach. Keller sent her models out with cropped boyish haircuts in leather Perfectos tucked into military pants – a direct homage to a photo of Schwarzenbach. For evening, she showed elegant bias cut asymmetrical gowns. But her daywear was what really stuck out. There were plenty of chic army trousers paired with fitted jackets, smart suit alternatives and plenty of crisp shirts – all perfect looks for the fashion-forward working girl.
Haider Ackermann has been showing androgynist looks for years now, with Tilda Swinton as his muse. This season the designer decided to show both his womenswear and menswear collections on the runway together. The collections were perfectly intertwined, sending out his models in pairs of three to clearly make his point that his collection is cross-gender.
Ackermann has mastered creative tailoring. For spring, there were plenty of sharp suits in bold colors, boxy shirts with intricate laser-cut details and pajama-inspired pieces. Although the unisex concept has been seen on a number of runways this season, Ackermann’s version was effortless and elegant.
There are a handful of designers who are truly creative geniuses. Season after season these avant-garde designers take us on a breathtaking journey, their collections are thought provoking, witty and intellectual. Here’s a mash-up of the best!
THE GREATEST SHOWMEN/WOMAN
Meanwhile, back to reality, well, almost. Karl Lagerfeld created a tropical beach for his Chanel spectacle. Yes, you heard me right. At the Paris Grand Palais, Lagerfeld recreated a beach that included an ocean with gentle waves, blue sky, wooden docks and lifeguards. He completed the scene with none other than former Baywatch actor Pamela Anderson seated in the front row.
Nicolas Ghesquière took us on a futuristic voyage for his Louis Vuitton collection. The perfect escape mechanism to avoid the reality of these times.
Modern dancers performed during Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Christian Dior Show. It was a nice break from traditional cat walking.
Anthony Vaccarello’s girls walked on water under the Eiffel Tower for his Saint Laurent show.
For Miuccia Prada’s Miu Miu collection, the concept of ’deconstructing beauty’ continued by putting her spin on DIY, recycling, and upcycling under a backdrop modern art installations.
Fashion week season wouldn’t be complete without a ‘romance-inspired’ collection. Beautifully feminine looks, from whimsical tulle confections to vintage floral charm, these saccharine-savy looks had just the right dose of spice.
In a galaxy far, far away…..some designers looked ahead to the future, creating looks that were out of this world.
Ok, all these fantasy looks are spectacular, but sometimes we need to see some real clothes on the runway, right? But always with a twist!
THE NEW GUARD
Here at UoF, we love and support new, emerging designers. Here’s a fresh crop who are disrupting the establishment……
Tell us which collection took you out of reality, even if only for a moment?
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