Another season, another head-scratcher from Thom Browne, who's emerging as New York's foremost conceptualist. Again he borrowed from the traditional men's wardrobe — he's mostly a men's designer, so he's allowed — to craft imaginative penguin suits and clever riffs on formality that eventually exploded into bright crayon-colored pastoral scenes. The dog bag from last season is back, and this he has a buddy, a penguin...
With shredded Stars and Stripes streaming from the ceiling (set design by artist Ruby Sterling) and David Bowie's This Is Not America blaring, the political stance of Raf Simons was made perfectly clear at his Calvin Klein debut. As it turned out, the thrilling premiere of his post-Dior era also happens to coincide with a very precarious moment for American democracy.
For the second time, and for the foreseeable future, Kenzo showed both their menswear and womenswear collections at the same time. It made for an epic 88-look show, with clipped audio from Obama's climate change speeches. It was only natural that New Yorkers Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, Kenzo’s creative directors since 2011, would have the controversial presidential election on their minds. Trump’s inauguration took place the day before the show, and immediately all references to climate change were removed from the official White House website.
As Thom Browne's dark-lipsticked models walked down his Paris runway with the speed of a vacationing snail — in bodysuits astonishingly pieced together with more a thousand buttons, then in flat panels of those same suits held together by around 800 buttons, then in their more normal versions with just 600 buttons — one was left with plenty of time to ponder this ending to fashion week, and menswear in general.
A hyperrealist mosh-pit painting by New York street artist Dan Witz was featured on Dior Homme's invitation. It depicts sweaty fans writhing at hardcore music gigs. He claimed, in an interview with The Creators Project last March, that “the greatest single influence on my painting … comes from the music I’ve grown up with. The artists I most admire have almost always been musicians, and most of my best ideas come from the transgressive energy.”
The Dries Van Noten show took place in a seemingly endless tunnel bathed in red light under a railway line on the périphérique. The relentless drums of Iggy Pop’s 1977 seminal hit Lust For Life looped hypnotically as three to four boys walked the runway at the same time, marching in heavy leather shoes and boots.
Rei Kawakubo's Comme des Garcons' collections tend to be analyzed ad nauseam — no surprise given their enigmatic nature. Her upcoming retrospective at the Met will certainly be the most exhaustive, definitive analysis yet, the prep work for which must be enormously intensive for the curators, and no doubt taxing for the designer.
With an acoustic guitar soundtrack that we take to be Yohji Yamamoto himself, the boys walked in mostly suited looks. But, as ever, the devil was in the details. Shirt collars were explored in ways that we have never seen before, at times dripping like paint running down a wall, and at times geometrically cut in unexpected shapes, but somehow retaining their place as collars. Jackets had similarly transformative elements, with panels unzipped at the back, and sleeves sewn on top of the sleeve head, rather than into. Tricks that only a quiet master can pull off.