Fluctuat Nec Mergitur: Pierre M’Pelé on Paris Fashion Week

CELINE SS18 Photo by GETTYParis, Paris, Paris. Capital of France? For sure. Capital of Fashion? Not so certain anymore, although competition from its main contenders —bewildered London, morose New-York, and soporific Milan— seems incredibly tepid this year. Is S/S 2018 a catastrophic fashion season? Despite the general creative fatigue that has been going around like a persistent virus, resulting in the endemic copy-cat syndrome—effectively brought to light by several social media vigilantes including the controversial @diet_prada account, even though sometimes comparisons remain farfetched—a handful of designers were able to admirably hold their grounds.

In Paris, Jacquemus consolidated his Petit Prince status with one of the best show of the season. Dries van Noten did his own personal thing as per usual. He sent women wearing ravishing clothes, with the prints being the highlight of the collection. Thom Browne didn’t disappoint for a minute. His fashion shows are spectacles allowing people to dream. Anthony Vaccarello’s Saint Laurent flirted with haute couture thanks to feathers and heavy embroideries while Olivier Theyskens and Ellery offered some of the most exciting and refreshing propositions. They were clothes designed for the modern woman. And of course, Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel waterfall-themed extravaganza was difficult to ignore. Karl Lagerfeld had his girls walked on a deck in front of a replica of the Gorges du Verdon, nothing less.

JACQUEMUS SS18 Photo by Elise Toidé CHANEL SS18 Photo by Alessandro Garofalo
While Jacquemus was bringing sexy back, the Masters were not frolicking around. You know those guys aren’t here trying to impress the Millennials. They still care about a particular definition of fashion which resonates with words like individualism and authenticity. Yohji Yamamoto’s ode to deconstruction was a philosophical interpretation of perpetual metamorphosis, Rick Owens’s uniqueness came from combining the discomfort of a troubled soul and the search for a sense of beauty, all anchored in modernity. Phoebe Philo, a designer making clothes for women approaching fashion like an intellectual endeavor, opted for a slight recalibration —she also experimented with outerwear and rejected the ephemeral. For Haider Ackermann, this season was about a perfected cut —and, Oh boy! he’s good with a pair of scissors. Complex yet minimal, his tailoring was exquisite. Lastly, Chitose Abe —another offspring of designer’s designer Rei Kawakubo— of Sacai blessed the audience with her ability to create fashion hybrids that aren’t ludicrous.

 HAIDER ACKERMANN SS18 Photo by Alessandro Garofalo
At Valentino, Pier Paolo Piccioli received a well-deserved ovation for finally concretizing the legacy of Valentino Garavani. He managed to infuse the current mood into the composition while conveying the glamorous heritage of the brand. Nicolas Ghesquière, who seems to hold back since he’s joined Louis Vuitton, delivered a decent collection. There were super luxe redingotes: no, Raf Simons didn’t invent them during his Christian Dior irksome hiatus. However, these clothes are unlikely to make it to the streets—expect perhaps for the sports shorts and the horrid Stranger Things t-shirt which is already a bloggers’ favourite—but will contribute to driving leather good sales. Sadly, at Lanvin, nothing will drive sales and nothing will sell either. While Olivier Lapidus might be fashion royalty, he wasn’t able to conquer a single heart. His collection for Lanvin was filled with bizarre outfits that looked like they were conceived in a hurry and sewn by amateurs. Unfortunately, Lanvin was not the only iconic French fashion house who had a bad day. Maria Grazia Chiuri has jeopardized the house Christian Dior created in 1946 by means of clickbait t-shirt slogans, boring shapes, basic styling, and a disinterest in the brand’s history. Another Italian Lady, Miuccia Prada, forgot about her young, fun, and flamboyant aesthetic at Miu Miu. Let’s just say that when your decor is better than your clothes, it’s time to question yourself.

But ultimately, there is always hope in Paris. Because you know, fluctuat nec mergitur.

CHRISTIAN DIOR SS18 Photo by Alessandro Garofalo MIU MIU SS18 Photo by Alessandro Garofalo

Words by Pierre M’Pelé
Images courtesy of Alessandro Garofalo, Delphine Achard, Janna Tatarova, Elise Toidé, and Getty

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