Plastic Is A Thing At Chanel, Valentino, Balenciaga And More

And the trend feels symbolic

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Plastic is having a real high fashion moment for spring/summer '18, appearing everywhere from the functional rain coats at Burberry back in London through to Valentino's futuristic moto jackets and Chanel's glamorous capes and boots here in Paris.

Even the show invitations, including a massive transparent clutch from Givenchy and an extra, extra large ziplock bag from Céline, were made of the stuff. It's a trend that's loaded with irony, though. Plastic has traditionally been associated with pure function (grocery bags, Tubberware, water bottles and rain ponchos) rather than luxury.

Chanel ss18
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But all of that changed today at Chanel where Karl Lagerfeld showed a standout collection of 91 looks, defined by its waterproof layers. They came in handy on the runway set, which contained six man-made waterfalls, ranging from 9 to 15 meters high. There were tweed suits worn under lady-like, hooded rain capes; denim jacket and skirts trimmed with plastic fringe and the house's trademark cap-toed, demi-heeled boots, reimagined as a kind of super luxury answer to the classic Wellie.

Chanel ss18

Lagerfeld was hardly the only designer to elevate synthetics in this way. For proof, see the boxy shirts with the bin bag like texture and shine used to give an element of sport to prim pencil skirts in Demna Gvasalia's excellent spring collection for Balenciaga.

Balenciaga ss18
Balenciaga ss18
Balenciaga ss18
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Or Acné Studios, where creative director Jonny Johansson showed shirting and trim jackets in a rain slicker style coating, against a backdrop of a giant shower curtain.

Acné Studios ss18
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Or this sleek trench coat at Kenzo.

Kenzo ss18

Isabel Marant's jumpsuits also had a similar high-shine look, which heightened the Eighties sensibility of sport, glamour and fitspo-queen-goes-to-the-club feeling in her collection.

Isabel Marant ss18
Isabel Marant ss18
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And in Pierpaolo Piccioli's impressive spring lineup for Valentino, his cool, cropped plastic jackets (one embellished with sequins) opened the show.

Valentino ss18
Valentino ss18

In a way, the trend feels quite symbolic of where fashion is at in the current global climate of upheaval right now. On a surface level, a glittery rain jacket is a clever way to make the most of terrible weather, shielding you from the elements while brightening the mood (and those around you on your morning commute.)

But at the same time, it feels slightly puzzling. Despite the undeniable cool and youthful energy of many of the above looks, there's something oddly out of sync about the use of so much plastic at a time when young people are more environmentally aware and socially engaged than they have been in decades.

The fashion weeks coincided with a month in which the conversation around climate change reached its peak, with North America and the Caribbean experiencing its worst hurricane season in modern history and Mexico City attempting to dig itself out from the rubble following a catastrophic earthquake. Perhaps all the plastic was created from the recycled waste collected from the ocean. One can hope.

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