During the last month of the fashion weeks lots was said about there being too many shows, too long waiting times until the collections arrive in stores, too many collections. Paris may have acknowledged those discussions, but the bigwigs at the fashion corporations – including the industry association Fédération Française de la Couture – have made one thing clear: they don’t think there’s anything wrong with their system. Here, fashion is still seen as an object of desire that customers are willing to wait half a year for. And that’s the end of the discussion. Our attention can now turn back to the collections for autumn/winter 2016.
Even if the topic “see now, buy now” is being brushed under the carpet in Paris, the fashion houses are at least thinking about a different way to showcase their artworks. In the French capital, retro is the new black. Karl Lagerfeld – famous for his overblown shows for Chanel – transformed the Grand Palais into a salon with golden chairs bearing name labels. The chairs were all in a line, meaning that everyone was sitting on the front row. Which made the show reminiscent of the old salons, where designers used to present their new collections to a small clientele. The looks also took us back into Chanel’s annals. Pearls, camellias, suits. Revamped – for example with pictures of the designer’s beloved cat Choupette – for next autumn.
Hedi Slimane, too, took his models back to the age of mannequins. At the Saint Laurent couture house there is only space for 150 guests. The looks were called up by number, like in the old days. Slimane presented an ’80s collection with lots of glitter and giant shoulder pads – outfits that are definitely not suited to everyone. The rumour mill is yet again working overtime: maybe this is the designer’s last show for Saint Laurent? If so, that would make it the third couture house after Lanvin and Dior without a Creative Director.
Louis Vuitton: yesterday, today, tomorrow
The first Balenciaga collection by Gemna Gvasalia, fashionistas’ favourite and founder of the designer collective Vetements, was eagerly awaited. And the applause was never-ending. He has taken fashionable poses from photographs and transformed them into silhouettes for what were actually quite normal items of clothing: suits, dresses, parkas, coats. And there’s quite a large portion of Vetements in there, too, of course: oversized sleeves, shirts hanging out, conspicuous shoulder pads. The fashion house has done all right for itself by appointing the new designer: he has put Balenciaga back on the radar.
Making sure the label is always being talked about is also Nicolas Ghesquière’s task for Louis Vuitton. His collection has a look at hand for every style and every event: rocker, sport, party, business. Today’s heroines need outfits that will work for every occasion. But his love of science fiction can’t escape your notice. The backdrop was called “Future Archaeology”, a combination of Atlantis and futuristic city with slanted columns covered in some 200,000 small mirror tiles that had been laid by hand.
Miu Miu: the grand finale
The designer duo Chiuri-Piccioli staged an evening of fashion ballet for Valentino. Dance tops worn over dresses. Tutus with several layers of tulle. Sequins, lace, velvet and silk. And a whole series of long dresses that appear to have been exclusively intended for prima ballerinas’ wardrobes. The colour palette ranges from deepest black to nude.
As ever, the finale in Paris was provided by Miu Miu. Miuccia Prada is in a good mood, she said backstage, and extended an invitation to the closing party in a run-down living room with old-fashioned chairs and dimmed lights. This year, the master of mix & match combined jeans with Hollywood glamour. And aristocratic brocade in the style of aristocratic impoverishment. The message is probably: even bad times are good times.