Paris Fashion Week: Chloé, Rick Owens and Acne Studios
Three designers with powerful, yet highly diverse vistas staged striking shows in Paris, testifying to the energy of the city as fashion’s highest plateau. FashionNetwork.com witnessed Chloé by Gabriela Hearst; Rick Owens and Acne Studios by Jonny Johansson.
Chloé: Parisian panache
One test of a truly talented designer is the ability to separate their own brand’s aesthetic from that of their evening work, an exam accomplished with great skill on Thursday in Paris by Gabriela Hearst.
If her signature marque is a clever blend of Latin American earthiness and urban modernity, her collection for Chloé today sizzled with Parisian panache and chic.
Presented in very darkened Pavilion Vendome, close to the Ritz, the show opened with an arty flourish of search-light beams and hanging LED hoola-hoops to create a naughty nocturnal mood.
Kicking off with a series of cut-out columns in Aran white or black knits that had great gall. And sending out Gigi Hadid in a silver chain-mail knit party frock that spelled trouble. The cast’ hair loosely jelled back, in a Valkyrie-at-an-after-party attitude.
Gabriela is also a designer who understands how to use leather - with terrific flared rawhide pants, their side trimmed with Groucho grommets, or very elegant deerskin dresses with exaggerated batwing sleeves.
Hearst is also no slouch when it comes to accessories, either for editorial panache, like her tie-up woven sacks, that looked like gigantic knots or for commerce - like her great seaside stripe totes. While the new Chloé footwear from studded sandals with thick soles to silver platforms with tubular straps will be sure-fire hits.
Chloé, which is owned by the giant Swiss-based luxury group Richemont, had had a topsy-turvy run in the previous few years, but under Hearst it has again found direction and momentum.
Rick Owens: Theda Bara epic
One day surely they will build a monument to Rick Owens, so monumental are his shows, so exotic his vision and so wide-ranging his interpretation of fashion and history.
Like the previous season, Ancient Egypt was again the well-spring of Owens's collection, after the California-born designer had spent weeks in the Valley of the Kings considering its massive pyramids.
He even named the collection Edfu, after a temple on the West bank of the river Nile. His journey led to him musing on his childhood opinion of Egypt, based on Cecil B. DeMille’s biblical epics and images of Theda Bara, the first sex symbol of the cinema and the silent-era star of Cleopatra. Though Fox Studio publicity claimed she was born in Egypt, Bara was actually born in Cincinnati.
“These movies became my aesthetic recipe - ancient stories about faith and high purpose mixed with a camp and lurid exoticism seen through a turn of the century black and white Art Nouveau filter. With a doss of self-invention - Theda’s pierce and powerful and frankly artificial self that understood and acknowledged the light and darkness of real life,” explained Owens, whose show set was a catwalk over the waters of the 1930s Modernist fountain of the Palais de Tokyo.
Like Bara, whose nickname was The Vamp, many of the cast wore revealing costumes. Amazing translucent leather gowns that emerged out of the dry ice swirling around his catwalk, itself dampened by a 20-meter high vertical spray of water at the fountain’s centre.
Others wafted by in remarkable car-crash sculpture-worthy metallic leathers, scrunched into bat wings and bell sleeves.
His silhouette was ethereal, elongated and often finished with pagoda shoulders. Though the standout moment was a pair of ginormous crinolines made of recycled tulle. All applauded at length in an audience that included Cher, Tyga and Machine Gun Kelly.
In effect, one could not helping thinking that the whole collection cried out to be costumes a new DeMille film. When one suddenly realised that is who Owens is. The Demille de la mode; an epic designer who one day will get the recognition of the general public that he has in the fashion community today.
Practically all of Bara’s movies were lost in a 1937 fire in Fox’s vaults. One prays that footage of Owens's shows is never lost, and that a few thousand years from now, another young man from a small rural town will be inspired to invent a new visual universe, as Rick has done.
Acne Studios: Birthday bash in the Palais de Tokyo
Is there a more underrated designer in fashion than Jonny Johansson, the creative director of Acne Studios? A brand that celebrated its 10th anniversary Wednesday night in a gala show, where the presence of Kylie Jenner sent the paparazzi into a feeding frenzy.
Everyone who was everyone in fashion turned up for the birthday, taking their places on pink satin boudoir-like beds, as waiters in white smocks, shorts, golden knee socks and clogs served bitter orange cocktails or bubbly.
Kylie added to the intoxicated mood, arriving in a taut white column, and melodramatically putting on white Acne retro shades as a score of photographers and three times as many mobile phone-wielding influencers blatantly scrambled for a social media video.
Though the crux of the collection was transparency. Seen in some rather beautiful dresses, beneath which one spotted carefully placed feathers, ribbons, fabric swatches and, bien sur, underwear.
Gauze and mesh were wrapped around half the collection; though juxtaposed with the bags, most of which were finished with punky spikes. Many looking more like weapons than totes.
Some great battered metallic leather coats or jeans also had the spikes running down the arms and legs - not ideal subway or metro wear. In a co-ed show, guys marched in brothel creepers with upturned metal spikes, like angry sharks. Though Jonny’s zaniest idea was attaching matching fabric skin guards to scores of high heels, made in floral satins and silks.
Add in a sense of savvy humour, like Jonny’s sextet of gingham table-cloth looks, craftily cut into giant boyfriend jackets; fabric boobs, rosettes, leggings and even wedges with bows.
This was a fine celebration of a decade of great design. It all made for a happy fete, and lots of great rock-star ideas, but maybe too many, too often. It was almost as if Johansson felt condemned to be uber-creative.
Sometimes designers should rest on their laurels.
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