Dear Shaded Viewers,
The last edition of Paris Fashion Week seemed to illustrate the current predicament designer fashion has gotten into. To paraphrase our beloved Carrie Bradshaw, one couldn’t help but wonder what the purpose of fashion shows actually is. Not so long ago, a show was meant to provoke, inspire and entrance an audience, leaving you buzzing with joy, eagerness and excitement. The problem is that such moments have now become rare and the designers who stood out this time were clearly the ones listening to their instincts as opposed to their marketing teams, putting extra effort and involvement into their work. Their willingness to be genuine while honing their craft, telling a specific story -and ultimately removing us from the banality of existence- made a real difference. The bigger houses lost their DNA, because they’re too busy trying to please everyone, creating ‘Instagram Hype’ and churning out product on the runway no one really needs, with the notable exception of Valentino and Balenciaga, where the singularity of a designer’s voice still has an impact.
If you want the thrill of real fashion, you need to look elsewhere, and a few collections kept us enchanted. Glenn Martens’ vision has been consistent at Y/Project and he keeps challenging the boundaries of taste and perception: his clothes are smart, desirable, young and playful, but he also understands tradition and respects it. His mix of reworked sportswear, seductive dresses, statement footwear and intricate coats was a winner, and the Paris-based Belgian found the right balance between creativity and commerce. Japanese designers also had a moment of their own, from Sacai’s beautifully layered silhouettes to Undercover’s quirky school girls and Issey Miyake’s textile innovation. They stuck to their guns and stayed true to themselves, something other designers should aspire to.
Among newcomers, Marine Serre delivered the goods, presenting a collection that was forward-thinking, gutsy and inspired. Her debut was confident and her point of view was clear, from sharply tailored denim separates and printed bodysuits to feminine foulard dresses and fetish-tinged plastic. With her ironic take on clothing and design intelligence, Serre’s handwriting brought to mind the fearless and inventive spirit of a celebrated designer whose first French retrospective at Musée Galliera underlined his amazing timelessness: the legendarily elusive Martin Margiela.