PARIS—Despite the French government banning large-scale gatherings in the middle of Paris Fashion Week—the final leg of the bi-annual, month-long fashion marathon that is the ready-to-wear shows—PFW made it through to the end March 3, despite the Coronavirus panic.
Most Chinese designers cancelled their shows, and a handful of cocktail events disappeared from the calendar last minute, including the popular LVMH Prize cocktail, although designers short listed were still presented to buyers and the press.
PFW was also deprived of one of its most colorful annual highlights, with Indian designer Manish Arora opting to present his collection by appointment only. Elsewhere about town, there was plenty of colorful attire to see.
That said, with couture designer Jean-Paul Gaultier staging his final show last month and Arora going undercover, PFW didn’t quite feel as fabulous as usual. There were also noticeably more designer masks being worn like fashion statements.
Herewith, some of the looks that provided most cheer.
Models with animal masks wore off-kilter suits to the New York designer’s Fall/Winter show that was staged inside a winter wonderland. Some of them wore checked socks. Some came carrying bags featuring other animals, and one pair walked in over-sized puffer jackets bearing elephant motifs that matched those on their gray padded skirts. It was playtime at this creative label.
Feminist slogans hung from the ceiling for the Dior show which took place a day after disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was convicted in New York of heinous crimes against women. “Patriarchy kills love,” “We are all clitoridean women,” and “When women strike the world stops” are the words of the Italian feminist activist Carla Lonzi.
Looks for this collection were rebellious, and while some were clearly designed for women wearing the trousers, others, featuring checked mini skirts, looked like they were inspired by schoolgirls looking for some sort of trouble. “Consent” was among the other banner slogans.
John Galliano was inspired by painter Edward Hopper for his collection, which drew upon the colors of Hopper’s paintings for some of his layered looks. (Layering was all the rage this season.) Some of the more masculine designs brought to mind Thom Browne—think oversized suits and Flower Pot Men hats we have come to associate with Browne. But Galliano’s flamboyant flair shone through with outrageous looks like a revealing mesh bodysuit. He also gave a nod to Margiela’s thing for recycling.
The best place to get away from it all this Paris Fashion Week was South African designer Thebe Magugu’s exhibition space buried inside SPHERE, a PFW space dedicated to new designers inside the Brutalist labyrinth that is the Palais de Tokyo museum and PFW headquarters.
The LVMH Prize winner created a township environment with his photo exhibition of family members, the local church and community in Kimberley, where he grew up. Soft local music played in the background. Three rows of mannequins posed in the center of the room watching a film playing, beyond the racks carrying his designs. Magugu told The Daily Beast that the designs were inspired by family, local institutions, and the idea of wearing your Sunday best.
Japan’s high tech wizard has long been a highlight at Paris Fashion Week. This season’s early morning show on a Sunday woke up spectators with its minimalist white and black aesthetic that looked futuristic in a different way to Miyake's usual. So often his futuristic look comes from his forward thinking materials that do weird things like spring to life on stage. One of his most interesting this season was this balloon sized creation that reflected the creative shapes found in the F/W 2020 RTW collection.
Designer Sarah Burton sent curved models down the runway, as part of what she called a love letter to all women. The design was inspired by Wales. Think lace, oversized Celtic knots, and folklore galore.
One of the most innovative designers in size inclusive design is Belgian designer Ester Manas (designed by Manas and Balthazar Delepierre) whose motto is one size fits all. The duo were shortlisted this season for the prestigious LVMH prize which showcased their designs on Avenue Montaigne to the likes of Anna Wintour. The label’s size adjustable creations make any size look cool. Consider, this season, their voluptuous jacket designs with cinched waists that create an interesting, oversized silhouette.
One thing that next-gen brand DAWEI does in style is its gigantic winter coats. The up-and-coming label, which was featured again as part of the next-gen showcase Sphere at PFW, was inspired by a trip to the Wetlands for its Fall/Winter 2020 collection. Love the Intergalactic warrior skirt coats in weird green.