Courrèges goes back to its future by Lily Templeton

On each seat at Courrèges today, a short manifesto indicated the intentions of co-designers Arnaud Vaillant and Sébastien Mayer, of the late Coperni brand, for their sophomore offering in the legendary French brand. “Make it new.” “Make it warm.” “Make it practical.” The slogans read like the simple tech-speak adverts promoting a new gadget, and the auditorium of the Opéra Bastille was perfect for this keynote, complete with 3D-renderings of the garments floating on-screen. Considering the theme of the next Met Ball is “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology”, a focus on wearables in sharper than ever.

At least the desire to put clothes back at the center of the narrative, and making them desirable was clear enough, and this format made it easy for even the furthest-flung guests to see what it was all about, as well as see the silhouettes in action. Each garment was presented in a commoditized way, with little if anything distracting from them on the models. A tightly tailored jacket with back pocket flaps, a double zipper trompe-l’oeil trouser, boxy motorcycle jackets, lacquered shift dresses with diamond-shaped ventral cutouts, sheer lines sectioning larger pieces to give them accrued foldability, everything contributed to a new spin to old favorites – cue the vintage outfit laminated on the invitations.

Bought in 2011 by former Young & Rubicam executives Jacques Bungert and Frédéric Torloting, the brand returned to the Paris runway last season to great acclaim, revamped in every sense of the word. There was something reminiscent of another all-white, pristine, simple smart object design company – Apple. André Courrèges, who died this past January after retiring from the public eye in the 1990s, pioneered the space age of couture, and infused his creation with a dose of minimal sophistication with shapes that owed as much to architecture as they did to movement. Famously unwilling to compromise his aesthetic, he left a brand that had dabbled in everything from clothes to perfumes, to concept cars. Torloting once said that had Courrèges thought of creating a phone, it would have no doubt been very similar to the iPhone.

In keeping with the see-now buy-now narrative that has been solidly obsessing everyone since the season started, the designers indicated that a third of the collection would be immediately available. Roomy coats, short skirts, staple boxy jackets, they all had something novel and indefinably Courrèges. Logo or not, they had character and a brand identity, and were offered in what seemed an infinity of options. Glossing over the “smart” clothing – a battery-operated heating system and innovative knitwear techniques – this was a line-up of gorgeous clothes that will no doubt find a clientele now, and next fall. If there was one thing to regret, it was that so much of the show was devoted to color variations of the same look. It was well done and looked good, but was it necessary to turn the catwalk into a catalogue?

Lily Templeton

Writer, journalist, storyteller, editor - Based in Paris - Typing up a storm on real and virtual keyboards, thanks to a curiosity like a small gauge sieve, exploring the world of creation one question at the time.