PARIS — At Paris Fashion Week, where the womenswear season wrapped on Tuesday night, catwalk shows were sometimes so theatrical that it was hard to focus on the clothing itself.
Consider beefcake bodybuilders whizzing by on scooters in their tight, green Y-fronts at Vivienne Westwood, as painters climbed ladders to create a cloud-like artwork in a garage turned into a runway.
This season, designer Andreas Kronthaler (Westwood's husband) created a collection for the British house, inspired by photos of the skate girls of Kabul, taken by Jessica Fulford-Dobson, and a couple of his favorite artists. One model walked wearing a dress made of nomadic bags
At Thom Browne’s Spring/Summer 2019 ready-to-wear show, models in bright, playful outfits walked between the giant gnomes watering the courts, at the exclusive Tennis Club de Paris.
Umpires wearing bikinis over patterned bodysuits, presided from high chairs over the New York designer’s original parade. Some models wore pineapples on their heads and watermelons for handbags. The gnomes wore sneakers that might have been designed for The Smurfs. Suits were cut like geometric patterns.
Besides the spectacle, there was plenty of designs that were worth concentrating on this go-round. Typical of Paris, which brings to a close the month-long ready-to-wear circus that winds through four cities, it was captivating to see just what can be achieved with a few yards of cloth, technology, and imagination.
Let theater be theater, but no one does color in fashion like India’s best-known designer Manish Arora. Think hearts, glitter, sequins, wedding-cake handbags, and outfits in psychedelic colors, paired with funked-up sports shoes. India dazzled Paris, once again this season.
Not everything happens on the main runways in Paris. At showrooms dotted about town, one can find unexpected treasures. Consider, this season, the London-based designer, Mira Mikati, who turned an atelier in the historic Marais district into a children’s playroom, complete with an ice cream stand and rainbows hung on the walls.
Her sporty-looking collection, decorated with what looked like drawings by children, brightened up the gray streets. One model wore a blue anorak decorated in a pink air balloon flying through white clouds. Meanwhile, distinctive prints, including a farmer’s suit dotted in miniature tree trunk patterns, were on show nearby at the showrooms for Finland’s Marimekko whose distinctive patterns can’t help but pop to life.
Nobody does technology and fashion quite like Japan’s Issey Miyake. This season, the designer introduced a new type of material called Dough Dough which allows the wearer to mound the material into the shape they feel like being that day. Models scrunched their hemlines and created hats from flat-looking panels of material, as they walked the Palais de Tokyo runway.
This high-tech Japanese brand created headpieces worn by models that resembled Gothic-looking chandeliers, and dresses decked in buttons and plastic-looking shapes that changed color, as models walked, thanks to a photochromic material that darkened in UV light. Launched in 2006, this label looks at the boundaries between the real and the unreal, but you had to watch closely to figure out which was which at this show.
This season, Dior took inspiration from the dance world, with this dance-to-fashion collection that included a specially commissioned performance, and dresses by house designer Maria Grazia Chiuri that relied upon the fluid lines of bodysuits and leotards. Looks included a dance-school-to-daywear outfit that combined a Safari-style jacket, worn ever a mesh bodysuit, and Lycra shorts visible beneath a sheer, green, full-length stage-style skirt.
Garments in the making and so-called “nomadic couture” or items like swimsuits that can be repurposed for different occasions, informed designer John Galliano’s collection for the house this season. Men walked in oversized golden underpants and wore the half-finished capes worn over silvery, second-skin trousers and golden shoes informed by the Central Saint Martin’s graduate’s London memories.
Designer Nicolas Ghesquière sent out a collection that looked to the future to create space-age silhouettes for outerwear, to vintage, travel magazine-style prints, to richly patterned silk looks that appeared to play on historic Chinese apparel. The show closed Paris Fashion Week in the courtyard of the Louvre.
Shown inside a grungy-looking garage with wet floors and harsh industrial light panels, this East-meets-West collection took inspiration from an American carpet manufacturer who drew upon Chinese rug design in the 1930s, for these gender-fluid designs in richly patterned materials and strong colors.