Paris Fashion Week is a wrap for spring-summer ‘18 and it was a divisive season indeed. The debuts of a few new creative directors at legendary houses were mostly met with over-the-shades dead-eyed stares and pursed lips or flat-out chastisement, Balenciaga spilled over into the mainstream press the way only they can and your favourite IG call-out accounts heartily dissected the ‘inspiration’ behind the latest SS18 looks. A couple of younger brands snatched most of the attention so sit back and dip into a few highlights.
Andre Walker has been a fashion original for the longest, bobbing in and out of focus between the early 80s when he staged his own first show age 15 and his later work as a creative consultant for designers like Kim Jones. Recently, he re-emerged by way of Adrian Joffe and Rei Kawakubo at Dover Street Market, affirming why his signature disturbed sense of poise has been a secret inspiration for generations of designers. By collaborating with Pendleton and borrowing his own archive pieces from friends like Kim Jones and Patricia Field, the SS18 presentation was a dyed-in-the-wool demonstration of Walker's enduring taste and fashion insight, accomplished by uniquely re-appropriating his own designs from 1982 till 1986. A collab with Off-White is also in the works, so best stay tuned in. In the meantime, revisit this amazing Andre Walker 1980s archive interview by André Leon Talley for Interview Magazine.
Glenn Martens of Y/Project is more and more becoming the focal point of the entire Paris schedule. The Bruges-born designer has created a youthful and deeply enticing universe, constantly exploring his own signatures and broadening the Y/Project voice with each passing season, until it becomes unignorable. The way Martens plays, twists and subverts is invigorating, his designs make you feel like closely inspecting every single one of those historically-inspired-yet-humour-laden seams to look for the magic recipe.
ADULT ANTWERP & LISELORE FROWIJN (TRANOI)
As part of Tranoï, the international trade show, the boisterous duo behind surging new label Adult.Antwerp, Shone Puipia and Raphaële Lenseigne, gave us a preview of their second collection and I can just feel collective feet shaking with anticipation.
Kym Ellery dropped a previously recorded version of her SS18 Ellery runway show simultaneously with the actual event, which featured large LCD screens showing a digital presentation of the collection supported by live music and interview projections with industry insiders. The way Ellery toys with historic proportions and makes them extremely current through cut, seam exaggeration and fabric choice is why this Australian-born brand slots perfectly into the next gen Paris line-up. The now looks great, but I’m most curious to see what Ellery envisions for the future.
A heavy, sticky feeling befalls you when you enter Yang Li’s SS18 universe, but it never overpowers completely - though that black plastered on the lips can feel a little on the nose. The sublime prints, the subtle Chinese influences and strong editing are what fortify the SS18 collection. This former Raf Simons intern is a clear forerunner when it comes to young Chinese design slowly finding its footing internationally.
If we can keep Sarah Burton near herbaceous borders in bloom and endless English pastures, we’ll be sure the steady-handed master at the rear of the brand Lee founded will bring back beauty. The incredible skill that is always at the basis of an Alexander McQueen collection shone with abandon this season, floating across the M/M Paris-designed brick-and-florals runway. Outerwear and denim looks surprisingly took centre stage, supplemented by elegant nature-inspired deconstruction you’d only see an artisan like John Galliano pull off these days. The body diversity, courtesy of McQueen casting director of 15 years Jess Hallett, was also a welcome addition.
How else to put it? Thom Browne snapped! For his first Paris show, he gave us Venus of Willendorf ballerinas on battery acid, a combination of words I truly never thought I'd have to string together in this lifetime. Browne is no stranger to an extravagant outing or presentation, but this was a particularly striking interpretation of his own design vocabulary. With most of his pieces starting around 1K, I dread to think what these amazing concoctions (tulle madras! Stephen Jones bubble space hats and unicorns!) will set you back but rest assured The Met will be giving you a call in a few years' time to see what's good with you lending out your archive.
With no one flashing a solitary breast on the front row this time around and only one measly Kardashian to zoom in on for their IG stories, invited guests of Haider Ackermann's could exert laser-focus on a collection that deserves nothing less. The sinuous flow of the garments (the flashes of red lapel!), paired with the knifelike sharpness of each cut (some sleeves looked like they were welded on) is nothing short of masterly. Those in fear that a dual role at Berluti would dull Ackermann's senses need not have worried, it seems like the designer has just hit a new stride.
DRIES VAN NOTEN
Either you’re a Dries girl, or you’re not. But if the former’s the case, you are in for a treat! Psychedelic prints tailored to perfection, nude slip dresses with crystal embellishments, shoulder pads for days: it’s this kind of consistency that has created the cult of Driesus and those altar-like registers will be worn out ringing all of this up come spring. The brand has just started selling in China, so growth is not likely to dwindle anytime soon. Until these SS18 pieces become available however, you could focus on the last 100 Dries Van Noten collections as archived in the new book launched in September.
Jun Takahashi and feted artist Cindy Sherman have been friends for years and our age-long The Shining nightmares be damned, they were dead set to 'come play' with us. Sending out two-by-two looks, Schiaparelli-esque prints and 50s cuts paired with Cindy Sherman portrait band tees, the show culminated in a bloody-beaded tribute to a cinema classic. Bizarro-beautiful, the UNDERCOVER way.
COMME DES GARÇONS
It’s Rei’s world and we’re mostly just creatures sort of unfit to truly do her designs justice. Somehow Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s 16th-century vegetable-humans paintings (the ones I was absolutely terrified of as a child) ended up co-existing with wide-eyed manga capes, cream tweed coats-on-coats dresses and Murakami-esque novelty neckpieces. Yet amid all of this beguiling beauty, as was the case at UNDERCOVER, there wasn’t a speck of casting diversity to be had at Comme, which is a bewildering oddity people have been pointing out for the last decade. #problematicfave
Now it's time to parse all of this, enter into hibernation and re-emerge crazy-eyed in January ready for menswear as the fashion carousel mercilessly spins round and round in perpetuity. Tell us what your faves were!