Each X Other opened Paris Fashion Week this season in Emmanuel Perrotin’s delightful Salle de Bal located in a 17th-century Hotel Particulier in the Marais, replete with a beautiful outdoor garden. The venue was packed for their second runway show on the official schedule, and they certainly had a lot to say.
The brand’s artist-poet muse Robert Montgomery installed a sculptural light piece in the garden that read ‘You Sleep On the Feathers of Birds and Their Flights Fill Your Dreams,’ which gave the collection its conceptual backbone. Garments referenced pyjamas, with contrasting featherweight fabrications paired with leathers, and the poem itself appeared in full and fragmented across the collection. Rib knits clung to the body, and fell open and fastened tightly with hook-and-eye fixings, while bondage straps restrained bell sleeves and brocade trousers, in what the press release termed Poetry Meets Punk.
It was here that we understood the second collaboration on the runway and covering the walls of the space, in huge posters with bold graphic statements like ‘If You Can’t Afford It Steal It’ and ‘Hack The System.’ The latter referenced the cultural provocateur Jefferson Hack, responsible for them. Our personal favorite, ‘Cultural Resistance Movement,’ was worn with feather motif brocade trousers with bondage straps, on an androgynous model with tightly cropped peroxide hair, the perfect embodiment of the collection.
For Spring, Bernhard Willhelm reimagines the fateful fruit shared by Adam and Eve, except instead of an apple the two partake in, it's a banana. Then Adam pours toffee sauce all over Eve. Talk about sinful!
Quick-witted and always the first to head for the gutter, Willhelm is fully aware of the sexual connotations afforded by the banana, whether its long or short, curvy or straight, green or yellow. The collection of 69 unisex looks offers an array of possibilities or positions.
Willhelm has even provided a little a sex joke — "Broccoli: I look like a tree. Walnut: I look like a brain. Mushroom: I look like an umbrella. Banana: Dude! Change the topic."
The grand Salon in Hotel de Ville was not the usual kind of space for a Yohji Yamamoto show. We are used to seeing him in more modern settings, but then the invitation did feature an aging pair of hands that could have been his own. He seemed to be in a particularly pensive mood. Self-reflection is nothing new for the designer, who often walks his own path and explores his own limits, but rarely has it been so raw and personal.
He opened the show with seven masterfully draped and folded outfits that looked as if they were made from single pieces of fabric, part-Grecian, part-kimono, all Yohji. These gave way to explorations of corsets and hoop skirts tantalizingly exposing underwear as outerwear, and flashes of primitive graffiti.
A particular standout came in raw-edged washed denim, a youthful moment paired with the sports-tech flat shoes that were worn with almost every look. All the while the music sounded like a live jam, with Yohji himself whispering, "Don’t you come into the shadow/Show me the face you’re hiding," before stuttering, stopping and starting again. Just before sending down one of his infamous oversized parasols, the music cut and all you could hear were the frantic shutters of the cameras — a moment of self-realization.
The show closed with a crimson-red bride holding a selfie stick with a GoPro camera fixed on her own face, filming her own path down the runway. Perhaps this was Yamamoto reflecting once more, through the eyes of the very conduit he uses to convey his message.
Undercover's Jun Takahashi brought together a motley bunch of references for spring: royalty (as in ruffs), playing cards (with an emphasis on the joker), battle-ready gear (bombers, parachute straps, camo), the Rolling Stones (he printed their cameos on various pieces), and an all-around old-fashioned Britishness (think Sherlock Holmes) — all of it deconstructed and pieced together in sundry ways.
What the message is isn't exactly clear. Nonetheless it felt poignant and certainly well-tailored. And it's refreshing that Takahashi seems as fascinated by Britain as the Brits — in fact, everyone — are by Japan.
Embracing that most dreaded word, pretty, Raf Simons delivered his most feminine collection to date for Dior.
Think lacy Victorian nightgowns in faint rosy hues, white cotton shorts or flouncy skirts, loose-sleeved diaphanous summer dresses, floral or snowflake knits, and more Bar jackets, though softened and less sculptural than in seasons past.
For the Spanish house of Loewe, Jonathan Anderson was in an experimental mood — clearly. See-through pants resembling clear plastic wrap featured in the first series of looks; shards of mirror glass were arranged in clusters, echoed in bunches of shiny metallic fringe; paper was superimposed onto cotton and one leather dress was stamped with an actual Juncus plant. The signature Puzzle bag, too, now comes n rubber.
Leather was made to look like silver croc, while real croc was introduced elsewhere. But it was suede, the label's longstanding trademark, that stole the show. The material appeared in many a novel application, usually head-to-toe, most dramatically as a robe dress and a pale yellow bomber and pant combo.
An intense, powerful spring show by Rick Owens proved that the headline-making machine the American designer has become shows no signs of slowing down. This rapid-fire ride is wondrous to behold. Only he — and possibly a handful of his counterparts — is capable of eliciting real surprise, the kind that has you sit transfixed, forgetting to take notes. And surely the audience who crammed into the gritty, cavernous underground of the Palais de Tokyo didn't expect to see a collection highlighted by what can best be described as human baggage.
How else could one describe the sight of models carrying women umbilically tied by straps? The baggage assumed all sorts of postures, ranging from the dramatic to the fetal to the crucificial, their hair falling to the floor, their feet emulating arms, their expressionless, upside-down faces worryingly turning crimson. It made for arresting and disturbing allegorical images, hinting at torture and burden, both emotionally and physically. Apparently the black-clad staff who stood sentinel on the runway were there to ensure the models' safety. At times, things verged on the kinky, as some positions suggested Kama Sutra acrobatics.
The show, titled Cyclops, like Owens' men's outing in July, was conceived as an exploration of that mythological creature, known for its one eye and focused vision. So for him, the Siamese-like appearance of the models was meant to promote sisterhood, motherhood, and regeneration — "women raising women, women becoming women, and women supporting women," he said in his program notes. He likened the straps to "loving ribbons." The wonderful live performance by the British singer Eska, belting out a soulful This Land, heightened the poignancy of the spectacle.
The only problem with a Dries Van Noten show is that whatever else you see that day looks second-rate. His ability to capture something fresh and new in an unexpected harmony of color and patterns is spellbinding. Today’s show was in the same industrial warehouse as his previous men's collection, but it couldn’t have felt more different. Out with the masculine raw-edged pop and in with a flamboyant glamour.
There was a sense of youth to the Dries Van Noten woman for spring. To the sounds of the string quartet Balanescu playing instrumental versions of Kraftwerk, his girls marched ten at a time in the gigantic space. With a forties wartime feel to the hair, a fifties prom feel to some of the skirts, a sixties and eighties feel in the brashness of color combinations, and a nineties feel to the tattooed body sleeves, it all added up to a exhilarating newness. Metallic touches were everywhere, as we have seen filtering through the spring collections, here balanced with extreme matte textures. Elevated shoes complemented the outfits’ colors in a new form, open-toe wedges that featured in almost every look.
Van Noten’s deft handling of color and pattern is unparalleled right now, and shows no signs of faltering. His collections walk to the beat of their own drum. The amount of Dries-ciples in the audience already sporting the fall collection was testament to this.