Paris Fashion Week Fall 2015: Day Five
Junya Watanabe: Honeycomb
Sculpted mesh bobbing up and down – there could be only one word to express Junya Watanabe’s Autumn/Winter 2015 collection: origami.
Backstage though, the Japanese designer had a different word: “honeycomb”. The famously silent Junya came up with another phrase, saying he wanted to “explore dimensions”. And that summed up the show.
“I was thinking about the failures of life,” Haider Ackermann said, after perhaps the most polished, yet romantic, show he has ever created.
“It’s all about tweed; how it gets old and you have to repair it,” the designer explained backstage, where even the models were dancing with joy.
Nina Ricci: A Man and a Woman
“There is no real fashion concept except what Nina Ricci means to me – it’s about fashion as a perfume,” said Guillaume Henry before showing his debut Nina Ricci collection.
The show opened with an elegant but familiar statement about a woman in a mannish double-breasted blazer, but feminine in her transparent lace skirt.
And so went the contradictory story: sharp tailoring and slim dresses illuminated with sparkle; a city coat fancied up with oh-so-fashionable silken fringe.
I felt that Guillaume Henry was thinking of a wardrobe for a woman of today. But to my surprise, she was an intercontinental figure, not the cute young French woman of his earlier designs for Carven.
Filling the shoes of Peter Copping, who left Nina Ricci for Oscar de la Renta earlier this year, did not seem a problem for the confident new designer.
In fact, his simple court shoes set a tone for the collection, which was drawn on simple lines with surface decoration.
A wool dress with fluffy shearling patches on a slim cream shift seemed the right way to go, rather than the semi-transparent dresses, one showing underwear, which is such a cliché of femininity.
Much better was a sweater with cable knits, mixing white and cream. That kind of sporty style was one of the elements that showed promise for the future.
But now that the new Nina Ricci collection has been presented, Henry needs to spray a stronger perfume to make his identity at the new house.
Comme des Garçons: Life, Light and Shadow
The figures were moving; meeting, but never touching. One was a perambulating white cloud of puffiness, blown into shape by stuffed bedroom pillows; the other smothered with white satin bows. Both models had their heads and faces covered in a lacy darkness.
Why in this Comme des Garçons show do they never touch, only turn, each voluminous figure just acknowledging the other’s existence like a passing shadow? Were they death and life walking slowly past one another? Perhaps one, at least, of each duo was approaching the final ending.
”A ceremony of separation” were designer Rei Kawakubo’s words, spoken by her partner Adrian Joffe, for she never came out to respond to the cheers and tears that engulfed the long room where the show took place. There was no pretence of a happy ending.
So a designer who once based a collection called “Broken Brides” on figures walking in sadness from the bridal altar has now turned her fashion art to the final ending.
Yet this was not a sad show from Kawakubo. Some of the individual pieces seemed joyous, with lace and leather mixed, or a hoop decorated with snowy white flakes and wool that looked like a fine knitted swaddle for a baby’s crib. That was a match for the baby’s dress seen flat on the front of one of the perambulating outfits.
Deconstructed elements, especially for the headpieces, were inevitably present, but not in a torn or discarded way. And sturdy flat shoes kept the figures grounded.
There were slightly more white than black coverings, with some bridging the negative and positive with lace and hose, both with a mottled shadow play.
But the mood was sombre in a sweet way, as the soundtrack swelled with the Max Richter neo-classical piece, “On The Nature of Daylight”.
In the nature of life there is also death. But only an exceptional fashion artist is prepared to embrace it.
Olympia Le-Tan: Swish of the Curtain
The would-be ballerinas on point were wearing spindly high heels tied on with ballet-shoe ribbons. But they still managed to do the requisite twirl in their tutu skirts at the Olympia Le-Tan show.
With an artist father in Pierre Le-Tan, Olympia had a chance to create with her signature charm and with flourishes inspired by Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.
I spotted what must surely have been toy soldiers from The Nutcracker, both on the bags and more boldly on the hem of a full peasant skirt.
Elie Saab: A Functional Wardrobe
Fresh and growing greenery, and the trees of his native Lebanon lined the runway at Elie Saab’s January couture show.
The reprise of nature here, but as flat wooden toy trees, spoke volumes about the emotion of the first show, and the business-like line-up for the second.
Mugler: Ice and Heat
It is a cliché of futurism – or maybe a geographic certainty – that the world out there is an icy, silver blue. The same colour is often adopted for cyberspace on screen.
So it seems inevitable that Mugler, the brand founded by a designer whose symbol became a star in the firmament, should take on that vision.
To all of this, designer David Koma added a sexual surge that is not usually so evident with ‘cyber women’ – at least not on the surface. But it was with great skill that he sliced away a snippet at the hem of an already brief black dress, punched a pattern of holes to make miniscule windows on the body, and sliced surfaces into a fine mesh.
In his programme notes, the designer talked of “digital inspiration”, which is undoubtedly a modern influence.
There seems to be a variety of brands competing for this ‘Frozen’ look, and it is to Koma’s credit that he gave it some heat. Everything was in place – silvered stilettos or ring collars, silver lines, gilded, bronze and metallic patterns. No metal was ignored, yet none were overplayed. Graphic geometry ruled.
My issue is that the various futurists from half a century ago are merging into one on the catwalk. Mugler, Paco Rabanne, Courrèges – they have all presented a vague idea of the space age and journeys to the moon.
But I couldn’t help thinking of Anthony Vaccarello, relatively new on the scene, whose rendition this season of stars as cut-outs revealing flesh would have been a perfect fit with Mugler’s back story.