If you weren’t there, you won’t get it. That had been in essence the sentiment of Hood by Air’s Shayne Olivier on the topic of his happenings in Paris. And true to form, the invitation to the Sun City men’s-only sauna (incidentally a stone’s throw away from the infamous cruising nightclub Le Dépôt where Vêtements held a show last year) was something that couldn’t be described with words. Not exactly. Three levels of kitch Indian-inspired decor, a warren of “cruising area” corridors peppered with individual cubicles with no doors, condom dispensers and an eyebrow-raising notice not to perform sexual acts in the jaccuzzi formed the backdrop of this happening where no camera could truly capture what was going on.
Asked to line up against the walls in the uncertain glow of exit signs and security cameras, most were trying not to touch anything. One wrong step could end up in a tumble on a plastic covered mattress and that was definitely one part of the experience no one wanted.
Eventually, long tall silhouettes stalking decidedly through the corridor announced that the show had started. You couldn’t tell if anyone was male or female, but everyone seemed to be wearing white vinyl stiletto boots. As lights flashed from a nearby video camera, a few details stood out: Hood by Air 2007 embroidered on a pink outfit’s arm sling, “Do you know where your children are?” on a sweatshirt with threads hanging from the words, “DEAD INSIDE” on a sleeve or revealed under the zip of a leg, a silver tray hung like a Paul Bunyan-esque belt buckle, a putty-colored leather boilersuit. Club-kids meet Stephen King’s hyper-real horror elevated by a slightly more artisanal touch. Think hand-tooled sportswear, not couture, though.
Everyone ended up by the pool, where the models lounged until they doffed their clothes to jump into the pool. Not sure those snakeskin boots or white heels were ideal waders but hey, #yolo.
As guests started to emerge back into the hot Parisian air, the soundtrack mounted to ear-splitting levels. And the clothes? There is an increasing feeling of hybridation between the work of that generation of designers, between Olivier, Demna Gvasalia’s crew and Virgil Abloh.