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.
John Galliano continues to search for that elusive equilibrium between Margiela's legacy of avant-minimalism and his own taste for maximal off-kilter opulence. For spring, that balance straddled East and West, male and female, and past and future — but in a Galliano-esque way.
In the show's first half, his young models — some of them of the effete male persuasion — resembled beehived, begloved, bejeweled opera ladies. But by show's end, they were decked out like sci-fi geishas, in their shiny, loose kimonos, some with koi beading, but with schoolgirl satchels or bright thick cords in place of obi sashes. Their exaggerated eye make-up gave them a distinct kabuki-meets-club-kid vibe.
Karl Lagerfeld's spring vision for Fendi today puffed and billowed down the runway, but not in the retro way he so famously loathes. Rather, his loosey-goosey bloomers, pumped-up shoulders, pool floatie-like sleeves, and sculpted roominess — all punctuated with peek-a-boo cutouts — suggested a new freedom by way of old-school power dressing.
For spring, Miuccia Prada continued her exploration of things considered retro, kitschy, and slightly granny-ish: brown, stripes, nylon, argyle, twin sets, V-necks. Wood paneling never looked as chic as it did in leather or croc strips in brown and orange — it seem entirely fresh to those born post-70s, which now comprises the majority of the house's clientele, surely. No one does cross-generational better than Prada.