The heterodox approach of Paris Fashion Week, What is the new criterion?

Paris fashion week had a slow start this season since it had to live up to what we experienced in Milan few days prior. However, it quickly had a turnaround, as Paris-based designers had a new take on fashion shows, all while going back to the roots of this traditional aspect of our industry. From the Balmain festival to Balenciaga’s movie premiere event, creativity was at its peak.

BALENCIAGA

If there’s a designer who understands pop culture and knows how to use it to its advantage, it’s Demna Gvasalia. In fact, it’s been a great couple of weeks for the Georgian designer, as his creations have been making headlines. For the night of his Spring/Summer 22’ collection, he surprised his guests with not one but two exclusive events! A movie premiere invitation, to which the guests had to be both the invitees and some even the models, as the looks, mostly all black, went on one by one on the red carpet. A clever way to present the collection as it illustrated how the clothes will be used in real life. But it wasn’t just the star-studded crowd in the likes of Amber Valletta, Lewis Hamilton, Off-Set and Cardi B, that made the event special but the combination of “real people ” in the latest Balenciaga looks and the fact that the stars attending we part of presenting looks we’ll see them wear in the future. Simplicity forward models were seen with bare faces, often androgynous-looking and like they had no care in the world. That’s the Balenciaga customer at the core but somehow manages to set trends.

The movie presented at the premiere was a special Simpsons episode in collaboration with Balenciaga. With a storyline confirming that Demna’s goal and desire are indeed to reach everyone, from all walks of life, who, just like Marge, dream of wearing his clothes. As one can imagine, the episode was filled with humor, specifically mocking both the “American in Paris” and the French. The episode had tons of Balenciaga promotions, from packaging, bus, baseball caps, but the most unexpected and fun were the popular “Speed” sneakers, also known as sock shoes that served as the wheels of the Balenciaga plane. Both on and off-screen, the creative director offered a cool elegance like the red off-the-shoulder dress worn by an older man in the episode or Marge’s gold dress with the gigantic bow the house is known for. The oversized jeans on the red carpet paired with the long sweater dress and the deep blue crocodile bag and Homer Simpson’s red puffer jacket were the attires that delivered the effortless look the cool kids of Balenciaga are known for.

SCHIAPARELLI

For his spring/summer 2022 collection, Daniel Roseberry teaches us how to do summer the surrealist way, with one-piece bathing suits that have floral petals sewn on top in various manners. For his opening look of this digital presentation, the artistic director takes us back to the late 40s as the model wore a black face mask that covered her hair and half of her face, a reference to the house founder 1949 half mask half hat artifact. The all-black look was completed with a bold shoulder cropped jacket and high-waisted pants. The collection photographed by Roseberry featured all the elements we love from this new era at Schiaparelli. From the body bijoux, the gold plaque torso as a necklace, to the jacket with ruler grading, golden finger and toes, and the short silver dress with the eyes embroidery in powder blue and gold. Stripes were key components showcased in both clothes and accessories, especially in shoes, but always with a gold accent highlighting the toes. As much as Elsa loved incorporating art into her collections, Roseberry does the same with another 40s Dalí reference with the skeleton dress, but this time in white. The model was pictured wearing the famous dress with a white turban and long red nails.

Similar to past collections, Roseberry has a few hints of 80s fashion as the cone bra is featured in various ways. We couldn’t help but think of Selena Quintanilla when seen with the leather straps and black and white stripes paired with the black puffer jacket or with the full denim look. All lies in the details, with gold ornaments that were used for closures on jeans. The jewelry paired with this look

was exceptional, and we’re sure the gold bangle with pearls will be on everyone’s wrists this season. We loved the silver clutch with similar attributes; the hazel eyes were however embroidered, and the pearls attached served as long lashes. Strangely enough, the last look of the collection was our favorite, maybe because of its simplicity. However, it was brilliant; the black halter dress represented the brand so well as the model had a headpiece shaped in face’s profile, a heavy gold strap chain with the lip bijoux on top of a triangle. The cherry on top was, of course, the model’s jewelry: two different earrings in the shape of ears with each their own motifs.

BALMAIN

Olivier Rousteing celebrated his 10-year tenure at Balmain last week, with a festival-like event. The show started with new styles, but also with what seems to be the new trend this season, we observed low-waist bottoms and several cutouts in dresses and skirts alike walk down the runway. As fashion comes back around season after season, black and white stripes, which were also an element in most shows from NY to Milan, made their way to the Balmain show. However, they were presented in both the vertical and horizontal way. We particularly liked it on the male models, especially the one with the open leather coat and long chemise dress. As much as the collection initially started, in monochromatic tones, mostly in black, white, and red, golden accents were added through belts, accessories, and chains. The black dress, made of complete spikes with an open back, is a stunner and reminds us of why millennials heavily gravitated towards the designer’s fresh approach at Balmain.

Rousteing’s signature style rope braid dresses made a comeback with the high neck mini dress in beige-pink and gold trimmings. The snowy white looks with the small gold elements were as beautiful. The 20-minutes show ended with a voice-over dedication from Beyonce to Olivier, with none other than Naomi Campbell walking to the sound of her voice, as she was seen wearing one of Olivier’s first looks for the brand in bronze. She was the first of the “Balmain Army” girls to parade around his signature looks such as the beaded pearls on jackets, fringe dresses in gold, the famous wicker chair embellishments on dresses. Carla Bruni made a surprise appearance and closed the show as Beyoncé thanked the young designer for helping her feel empowered while making her musical statements. Their “Virgo Energy” was also recognized as a force to be reckoned with and what undoubtedly made all their collaborations successful. The singer reassured Rousteing that he has in fact created “beauty and change through design” and on behalf of us all mentioned how we’re looking forward to the next 10 years.

As designers are still trying to find their footing on how to navigate their collections through the pandemic, it’s apparent that it’s no longer about choosing between doing a show or presentation. In fact, the uncertainty we’re still facing is pushing for the deepest creativity. And who can push the boundaries to make us dream again while rethinking fashion, the industry, through various art forms while keeping the audience engaged. As we all know, fashion has never been about our needs, but about fantasies being materialized, so we can keep dreaming season after season.

– Anne-Isabelle Saint-Pierre