International Women’s Day happened on Tuesday, and in keeping with the season as a whole, the final leg of Paris Fashion Week presented a wide range of femininity.
And if at some moments the season’s trends and themes seemed to be all over the place, others seemed to be a clear celebration of the singularity and individuality of womanhood.
1) Valentino’s pretty (badass) ballerinas
Many collections have explored the concept of the wardrobe this month, giving women all of their key needs in a single collection (the coat, the dress, the suit, the sporty look, the evening outfit, etc). But at Valentino, Creative Directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli showed a series of stunning variations on a single theme: the dancer, or rather, the ‘happening’ aspect of the dance.
The designers said they created the clothes as a ‘reply to the chaos and to the uncertainty of present times, stepping away from virtuality in order to discover […] experiences that need to be truly lived, in person, and that no digital instrument can fully reinstate.’
On the runway, where a pianist played music by John Cage and Philip Glass, that theme translated into an exploration of femininity starting with a darker, harder side via a series of slightly punk, black and navy looks that included tailored coats, dancerly dresses over turtlenecks and combat boots for day, followed by pleated and hardware-embellished leather for evening.
The softer, more romantic side came in the form of elegant, flowing dresses – again, all in the shapes and weight of balletwear – in pale pink, silver and marigold. The clothes didn’t set any new agendas (not that this was the point), but they were emotive, stunningly executed and wholly desirable.
2) Kenzo's Super Tuesday
Carol Lim and Humberto Leon packed a lot into the show, which took place on Super Tuesday, one of several key days in which the US presidential candidates battle it out in the primary elections.
They opened with The Star-Spangled Banner and as the models walked, excerpts from a speech by the American political rapper and Black Lives Matter activist Killer Mike played. There was a political message at work, but it got lost in the clothes and the context of Paris Fashion Week, a time of year in which men and women, most of them dressed to the nines, converge on some of the richest cities in the world to set about the business of selling clothes.
In this case the clothes were bold in silhouette (outsized ruffles, shoulders with exaggerated curves and super-long sleeves, for example), print (hot pink zebra and metallic florals, anyone?) and colour (violet, gold, and electric blue to name a few), borrowing elements from streetwear in a similar vein as what Demna Gvasalia has so successfully done at Vetements and, most recently, in his debut as Creative Director at Balenciaga.
But, lest we forget, Carol and Humberto exported American streetwear to Paris years ago when they took the helm at Kenzo – and even before that, when they began to grow their Opening Ceremony empire online and across the waters. The logos, the sweatshirts… Carol and Humberto have been there and done that. But as the rise of labels like Vetements and Off-White prove, Paris has room for many versions, and cycles, of new cool. It will be interesting to see how Kenzo adapts.
3) Louis Vuitton looks back to look forward
For AW16, Nicolas Ghesquiere explored the idea of ‘stylistic heritage’ and ‘traveling back through one’s sartorial history’. He wanted to explore ‘the way a wardrobe is composed’ from a ‘sum of experiences’.
The same could go for a designer’s work as well. During his days at Balenciaga, Ghesquiere created a motorcycle jacket that became a signature for the brand during his time there. It was near-perfect, a keeper to be worn forever.
The futuristic, sharply cut jackets, trenches and coats he showed today were a reminder of his ability to create a cult-like devotion to his outerwear. Beyond the impressive clothes, the show was also memorable for its diverse casting, which made for a strong final word in a season in which the fashion world finally opened itself up to a truly broad spectrum of beauty.
4) Miu Miu hits the right note
Miuccia Prada has just changed the way we look at the denim jacket forever, dressing up the most casual of staples and turning it into something glamorous, fun and sexy.
The sense of humor, beautiful workmanship, and sheer eye candy (we’ll take the furry slides covered in jewels please) was much appreciated after a long week of serious fashion and serious talk about the serious problem of a broken fashion system.
Enough of that: Paris is over and there are beautiful clothes to wear.