Changing Tides in Paris

  • Text: Theo Mohamed
  • Photo by Vogue
  • Comme des Garçons

    In a somewhat atypical fashion, the Spring/Summer 2020 Comme des Garçons collection does not function as Rei Kawakubo’s usual commentary on the world before her. Instead it is the second installment of deeply considered collaboration with the composer Olga Neuwirth. The three part series of designs began in June with the Comme des Garçons Homme Plus show and the third and final collection of designs will function as costumes for the upcoming debut of Neuwirth’s operatic adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s classic work: Orlando. The story of Orlando chronicles the transformation of an Elizabethan boy to a woman through the passing centuries. Through extravagance followed by distortion, Kawakubo creates a narrative throughout the collection that mirrors the story of Orlando and propels her audience into the throws of this unimaginable transition.

    Balenciaga

    Fashion allstar Demna Gvasalia has found the resonance of fashion acolytes around the world and continues to broadcast his harsh social commentaries at their frequency. The Balenciaga Spring/Summer 2020 runway was staged in an auditorium meant to serve as the Balenciaga congressional cabinet. Painted wall to wall in ‘EU Blue,’ the arena was soon filled with the cast of characters Gvasalia had chosen to explore this season. Throughout details like, prosthetically enhanced cheek bones and inflated lips or a suit clad class of bureaucratic raiths, Gvasalia exhibits the strange world in which we find ourselves today. The show was closed with a series of truly massive crinoline gowns to pay homage to Cristobal Balenciaga himself and the history of the now ubiquitous fashion house.

    Loewe

    Jonathan Anderson did not hold back in his Spring/Summer 2020 collection for the Spanish house of Loewe. Pulling references from the 16th and 17th centuries, Anderson developed ultra detailed garments employing a host of beautiful techniques. From layered lace ensembles to flounced blazers paired with similarly finished trousers, each look was as beautiful alone as the collection is as a whole. His forward thinking silhouettes paired with racer-like sunglasses re-root the collection in a lexicon of futurist vocabulary while paying homage to the most extreme era of human dress. To serve as a nod to the house’s Spanish heritage, Anderson included a pannier dress reminiscent of the iconic La Meninas portrait of the Spanish royal family. Jonathan’s signature eye catching renditions of the brands famous leather bags maintain the sense of utility through a thoroughly romantic, ethereal ensemble.

    Yang Li

    In typical fashion, visionary designer Yang Li opted for an unconventional presentation of his newest collection. In place of the standard runway proceedings, Li staged a concert at a Paris art institute where the models were paraded onto the stage at the close of the show. Additionally, the clothing was presented online in the form of three dimensional full body scans - a truly innovative way to present clothing. Yang Li appears to be one of the few designers still breaking convention when it comes to his presentations. The chosen medium for Spring/Summer 2020 distorts the textural identity of the collection to the point of mystery through the use of a uniform surface finish. As such, much of the detail of the collection is left to be inferred from the visible silhouettes making it difficult to fully understand the clothing. The animated forms create a sense of detached identity for each look, making them appear more as a character within a world that Li has constructed as opposed to humans existing in the world we occupy. At a time when fashion has largely become a self serving commercial operation, it is refreshing to see a designer who is so vehemently opposed to the wrote moda operandi of the défilé.

    Marine Serre

    Each season, Marine Serre expands upon the growing dystopian world in which her collections are set. For Spring/Summer 2020, Marine employed a rare colour for her designs: black. Titled Marée Noire - the french translation for oil spill - the runway was staged outdoors on a rainy day in Paris. Having recently taken up residence in a new, much larger studio, Marine Serre has shifted to a high gear for the production of her upcycled garments. With a whopping 50 percent of her garments now made from previously used materials, she has deepened her commitment to sustainability in fashion. The collection as a whole is meant to signify the few survivors of an apocalyptic catastrophe - perhaps by way of ‘marée noire’ whose direct translation is the chilling term: black tide. With utility garments in sheened black textiles, Serre paints the image of the rugged survivors - humanity’s last hope. Where last season the focus was nuclear fallout, this season it is time to consider the far more immediate problem of human impact on the Earth that is currently on our doorstep.

  • Text: Theo Mohamed
  • Photo by Vogue