A Look at Paris Fashion Weekcomments (3) October 11th, 2008
For the last time this season, fashion week swept through the city of lights and eternal romance, Paris.
Designers' inspirations ranged from the Eiffel Towera to Africa to the current environmental crisis, but the collections I found most intriguing were by Comme des Garcons, Junya Watanabe, and Maison Martin Margiela. They were clever points of view that utilized interesting fabrics and construction techniques.
The Comme des Garcons show was about hexagons (Buckminster Fuller, anyone?). Rei Kawakubo, the designer of Comme des Garcons, pieced together hexagons made from leathers, metallics, vinyl, and cottons. The silhouettes were dictated by the shape, rather than a specific idea of the designer's. She also covered entire pieces in gathered strips of chiffon to create sculpted looks reminiscent of carved styrofoam. The overall effect was quite radical, with the models wearing Marie Antoinette hairstyles made from cotton stuffing.
The Japanese designer Junya Watanabe used ordinary fabrics like eyelet cottons, denim, and African market cloths to create tops and dresses with twists, gathers, and pulls accompanied by long, bell-shaped skirts. The African market cloths were dynamic and full of life, and I really liked the experimentation with denim. Combined with turbans stuffed with dried and fresh flowers, the blending of color, pattern, and textures was beautiful.
Maison Martin Margiela celebrated 20 years this season and showed updated versions of his innovative designs and techniques. There were some amazing conceptual pieces (like a giant diamond ring that went around the model's body), but I felt that most of the outfits could be translated commercially without compromising the design and aesthetic. Covering a suit in electrical tape or having your bag literally attached to your dress were ideas that I found fantastic. I loved the tongue-in-cheek attitude and felt it was refreshingly humorous in the current state of the world.
In addition to the collections above, I enjoyed Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Dries Van Noten, Hussein Chalayan, and Stella McCartney. Check out the shows at Style.com.
I can't say that I was bowled over by the Paris shows. I feel that Spring is a season that usually underwhelms. But it might also be that because of the constant inflow of bad news, from the economy to the environment, that I really wanted to see something that was happy, cheerful, and humorous—something that uplifted my spirits while at the same time confronting the problems. It's certainly a tall order, but I would love to see someone tackle it, including you and me.