Review of Cathy Horyn at Paris Fashion Week: Raf Simons

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From left to right: Chloé, Raf Simons, Rick Owens
Photo-Illustration: The Cup; Photos: Courtesy of the designers, OWENSCORP

Raf Simons had designers Demna Gvasalia (Balenciaga), Pieter Mulier (Alaïa) and Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez (Proenza Schouler) in the front row during his spring men’s and women’s show on Friday. And barely recognizable behind his mask was Patrizio Bertelli, the managing director of Prada, where Simons is co-creative director with Miuccia Prada.

But it was Simons’ concert, for his Antwerp label, and it was quite remarkable. First of all, almost 80 percent of the collection was unisex, although I didn’t notice during the show what genre was in the many skirts and dresses or, for that matter, the oversized blazers and shirts. Male models have been the norm in women’s collections for the past few years, dressed in typical feminine clothing. But that’s not why I didn’t notice the gender of the models. I looked at the silhouette of Simons’ costumes.

Who today expects an interesting new line from a suit, or even from a garment in general? And who even considers a jacket and a skirt to be cool and desirable? There have been a lot of pantsuits on the catwalks this season, but very few designers have cared about skirts and jackets. Maria Grazia Chiuri made them for Dior, but her cheerful 1960s-inspired versions hardly looked new.

Simons’ jackets were cut loose to the body, without being sloppy or oversized, and the knee-length skirts appeared to be pleated, but not exactly pleated. They were presented with thin black socks and black oxfords with chunky soles. In fact, I later learned from Simons that the shoes were custom made, and it showed. Overall, the suit looked relaxed, on any model, and I wondered what Simons had done to make such a loveless piece of clothing look so desirable that I wanted one myself- same. (I can’t say I’ve felt that way about anything else this season.)

“The harsh reality is that people want hoodies and sweatshirts,” Simons told me. So the question that motivated him and his team in Antwerp was how to transform these very simple shapes into a more sophisticated shape, namely a suit, a dress, a dress shirt. The photographs in the collection, which are mostly in dark hues (with the exception of the shirts), are unlikely to do justice to the fit and figure, how much they affect the ease and attitude of a sweatshirt. -shirt and shorts. What they have different, of course, is the fashion element – something new and hard to pin down.

Raf Simons.
Photo: Courtesy of Raf Simons

Simons did the same with the dresses. The form is not a bag, exactly, and it is not a tunic. But it definitely works like a sweatshirt, and in black or navy industrial nylon it looks distinctive. This is because the fabric reads slightly like a seam, although it clearly doesn’t. Simons told me that the shape of the dress actually comes from a 19th century linen garment that women wore to do home activities, like painting. Call it a house dress. It is also similar to the type of blouses that female and male artists have worn over the centuries. “Creative people never had this strict definition of what a man or a woman could wear,” he noted. They were already blurring the lines of gender, at least in their paint outfits.

Simons gave the same consideration to dress shirts. In order to prevent them from looking like office wear, he detonated the stripes and made the cuffs wider. They were shown on their own, with a skirt or layered under a loose knit top.

All of these shapes have stood the test of time, in large part because they are simple. Simons took on the challenge of putting them in touch with the things young people (and not so young) want to wear. The result, in the case of the costume, was a compelling new silhouette. This challenge is something the rest of the industry must consider as well.

Raf Simons.
Photo: Courtesy of Raf Simons

Rick Owens travels frequently between the house he shares in Paris with his partner, Michèle Lamy, and an apartment on the Lido in Venice, a short drive from his clothing factories. It is on the Lido that he staged what he calls his “COVID collections”. Owens is not nostalgic for these shows, which only members of his team were allowed to see in person. But he didn’t want to forget them either.

Around noon Thursday, against the most beautiful Parisian sky, two models in fluid clothes stood on the roof of the Palais de Tokyo and threw pieces of paper on the runway and the public. The pieces were actually jasmine leaves that Owens picked up from his terrace at the Lido. In many minds the question has arisen: how should designers mark the return of live shows? With the same old hype? To a large extent, that is what they have done. But in all things, Owens remains decidedly personal. As brutalist as her vision sometimes is, with forms that suggest mutilated armor or futuristic shells, she hides a tender heart. Leading the procession of mannequins, dressed in a dark harness top and a short, sculptural skirt with platform gladiator boots, was Lamy. It was a first, as far as I can remember.

“Should returning to the Parisian catwalks be a matter of humility and a lesson learned,” Owens asked in his performance notes, “or carpe diem?”

The audience of mostly European and American writers and stylists (there are hardly any guests from other parts of the world here) clearly wanted Owens to enjoy the day.

Rick Owens.
Photo: OWENSCORP

That’s what he did: with long black dresses cut close to the body and cut out around the breasts, sexy bodysuits with hollowed out fronts and sides, and gorgeous pleated leather and nylon bombers in a cocoon shape. zip closure. The atmosphere oscillated between sex (these bodysuits and dresses with a deep neckline) and royal or sacred glamor. I guess you don’t grow up in California, like Owens did, then spend a lot of your life in France and Italy without being influenced both by Hollywood and, here, by the shrines and religious symbols. Some of Owens’ grandiose dresses and wide, pointy shoulders reflected the two Joan Crawford Meets a Saint.

Did the collection seem a bit overloaded with details? In a way, yes. Maybe that’s why I was struck by an orange denim tunic with a funnel neck and long sleeves, its hem partially tucked into pink shorts. Shown with white Spartan platforms, the outfit seemed at odds with the collection, but not with the reality of everyday life. I wish Owens had done more looks like this.

Chloe.
Photo: Courtesy of Chloé

Then, Chloé, held back along a bank of the Seine with the river traffic in the background. Many designers are keen to give their clothes a realistic context, whether it’s showing them in a public space – Pierpaolo Piccioli, for example, plans to use a street for Valentino on Friday night – or with a diverse cast of models. Chloe’s Gabriela Hearst also reduced the number of looks on her show, to just 31.

This decision corresponds to her goal of making Chloé more eco-responsible and has hardly limited her expression. She made a strong case for bohemian maxi dresses in cream wool with streamers, a practical and flattering pantsuit in beige or creamy yellow and slim coats, one of which had crochet and leather patchwork inserts on the back. . It all looked like a concise, compact wardrobe. According to her show notes, the macrame pieces (and bags) were made from shredded and resurrected clothing from previous collections, while the chunky-soled sandals were a project with Ocean Sole, a group that recycles old flip-flops.

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