Elsewhere in Paris: Brands that caught our attention
It was a very busy season in Paris, where – in between mega brands – one could catch a small gang of happening young designers, staging notable presentations in central Paris.
Plus, around the city there was also plenty of action in show rooms and even nightclubs, where mature and fledgling talents displayed their latest concepts. We caught up with these eight designers – whose diversity expresses the depth of talent in the French fashion capital.
The most charming of them all happened on the opening Tuesday evening, when the LVMH Prize 2019 winner Thebe Magugu staged a touching display of art, photography and fashion from his native South Africa, inside a disused mini-auditorium within the Palais de Tokyo.
Dotted around the walls were edgy, yet elegiac photos shot in Ipopeng, South Africa, by Kristin-Lee Moolman. Two young ladies holding hands, sitting in front of an altar; one dressed in a pearl gray chenille sheath, the other in a lilac wren dress. A half-dozen choristers with a bearded clergyman in religious garb; or an austere young man in a marvelous tunic. From a beautiful young lady in a streaky kaleidoscope-print plisse frock standing before her family sound system, to a dandified young man on a motorbike wearing a zesty Photoshop-print top of African faces.
At the center of the looming space, a half-dozen mannequins wore his new collection; their heads covered with mono-color tribal masks. Magugu named the exhibition 'Ipopeng Ext.', after the apartheid-era township of Kimberley, where he grew up, that is still not even listed on official maps.
“The disavowal of everyday lives, of powerful personal stories and extraordinary achievements reflects this ongoing dismissal both in South Africa and the world,” Magugu commented, in his program notes.
But, at least, this week in Paris, this community and its culture, had a voice.
A day later, Patou presented a new take on French nostalgic-chic in the latest collection by Guillaume Henry. Presented, like his debut, inside Patou’s small headquarters on Île de la Cité. Patou might be owned by luxury giant LVMH, but it is managed like a start-up.
There was plenty to admire; from the bouffant cotton or satin gowns, especially those finished with giant bow tie fronts. And, the little black dresses done with trompe-l'œil olden sketches; or the bubble skirts paired with ladylike blouses with leg-of-mutton sleeves.
Relaunched just last year, Patou is already retailing in 80 stores worldwide. "Any plans for a flagship?" wondered several editors, to which Sidney Toledano, the CEO of the LVMH Group, which controls Patou, replied: “Let’s not put the cart before the horse.”
Presented with models at a bar gazing on to the river Seine, this was an impressive new array of decidedly Parisian chic. Perhaps even a tad too much so, since the mood was so timeless, it looked a little déjà vu.
Nicolas Lecourt Mansion
On Thursday, it was the turn of Nicolas Lecourt Mansion, the gender-bending enfant terrible of Paris fashion.
A 26-year-old who hails from Strasbourg – just like Thierry Mugler – Lecourt Mansion has clearly plenty of raw talent. That has already been recognized as he was an ANDAM Prize winner in 2019.
This season, he showed some perfectly cut fire-engine red saucy sequin suits, and silky décolleté pink seductress gowns. He has a very good idea for a mean silhouette.
“Of course, I believe in gender fluidity. Women’s and men’s bodies are not so dissimilar and we are all made of flesh and blood,” said Nicolas, dressed in a one-shoulder leotard, cut in the same manner as the one he wore to meet President Emmanuel Macron at the fashion dinner in the Élysées.
Live opera, including a full-throated rendition of O Mio Babbino Caro serenaded the models at the catwalk show of Redemption, the first ever co-ed show by the socially engaged Italian label.
Yet, despite the soaring soprano and aria from Gianni Schicchi, this was a pretty purest rock'n'roll statement.
The initial spark for this fall/winter 2020/21 collection was when designer, Gabriele “Bebe” Moratti, listened to Madame Butterfly. The result was Italo-Japanese vision of rocker style. Puccini’s aria Un Bel di Vedremo opened the show, while a rock guitar-version climaxed the action – staged inside the Grand Empire ballroom of the Intercontinental Hotel opposite the Opera.
Slinky satin suits with floral fabric shoulders; sexy coat-dresses with crystal studs; and racy cricket blazers cut as mini cocktails for gals. Rock gentleman wore speckled red tuxedos or great faux-shearling yeti coats for guys. All told, a vibrant display of rebellious panache from Redemption.
Several veterans also showed they were very much alive. None more so than Xuly Bet, who returned to the Paris catwalks after a hiatus of 15 years. Malian-born Bet is the godfather of recycling returned to Paris, and the industry’s insiders turned out to fete his return.
Long before people could even pronounce the word sustainability or upcycling, Bet was taking old vintage clothes and giving them new life back in the early 1990s. Bet has been living in New York in the past few years, but this month staged his show inside a second-hand charity store near Les Halles.
“Paris is my home town. My kids are here. The people who inspired me – Alaïa, Saint Laurent and Gaultier," said Bet, who sent out divine little tartan suits; great stretch tops; or check jackets and gilets over painted huge golden letters of his name – like the one worn in the show by Rossy de Palma.
Asked how he felt about the millennials following his recycling lead, Bet replied: “I think there is something positive. Maybe I saw it ahead of other people. But, to me, the first person to recycle was really my mother. To use something that was worn by my grandmother and not just throw it out. Today, there is perhaps a certain hypocrisy. It’s not quite so fair. But it’s good people are thinking in the right way. It's my DNA and I exploited in it my fashion. Anyway, as a designer the question is always, how do we manage to make money and make love, too?” laughed the ever-charming Xuly.
India’s most happening designer Rahul Mishra was back in Paris too. Though his runway shows are on the haute-couture schedule – Rahul shows a “declined” collection during the French prêt-à-porter season.
“I call it 'easy-to-wear',” smiled Mishra, who incorporated many of his couture ideas. Like his remarkable confetti lace dresses; or his elegiac magic garden-print robes finished in microscopic embroidery. Not easy to make at all, but beautifully easy on the eye.
One of the world’s great fashion experts, and a legendary retailer in the Gulf, Ingie Chalboub displayed her latest collection. And, with a new youthful Ingie-twist.
Perfectly finished chain metal drop-dead gorgeous dresses, or risqué backless chain and sequined mini-cocktails. Adding just the right dosage of daring that Ingie had previously missed. In a word, Paris with a naughty twist.
One veteran who pulled off a striking new concept is Gilles Rosier, a highly experience designer, who created an eponymous high-quality accessory collection. Its key element were deep totes made in deep colors: forest green, midnight blue or anthracite. Made in the finest of leathers in top-notch French ateliers, they reeked Parisian quality.
Besides his name, Rosier used another cool signifier – riffing on the blue and green street enamel street signs of Paris.
An elegant insider visual pun for a strong collection that includes computer bags, weekend bags and an ingenious wrist band to carry one’s key fobs. Something nearly everyone seems to have nowadays.
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