Tuesday, January 23, 2018

BEAUTY: Clothing--Misc. Paris Fashion Week

The Fall-Winter '18-'19 fashion season is over, and it was mildly engaging...but frankly, it felt like something was missing: a flair, an elan, a spark. Whatever is was (or wasn't), here are some highlights from the final leg of the season, Paris Fashion Week.

It has been brewing for many seasons now, but there was a new silhouette being promoted by several houses. McQueen showed a fascinating jacket that features generous shoulders and flared hips but true to McQueen's interest in classic men's tailoring, the waist nips in, creating an appealing hourglass shape. And in the hands of Sarah Burton, this does not feel feminine at all. Wonderful!

Wooyoungmi also showed garments that exemplify this new larger, looser, more casual cut of clothing. The idea behind this new silhouette is basically the destruction of the suit as a sign of masculinity or power. With the world changing so fast--a more casual business environment full of millenials, people conducting more of their business as well as personal lives on-line, and changing gender roles--the suit seems to be evolving (additionally, the suit as a business-power signifier is now being equated with unstable power hungry monsters and straight male sexual abusers). I think, as Alexander McQueen's Sarah Burton shows above, classic tailoring will always be around in some form, but Katie Chung (who just this season took over the house from her mother Woo Youngmi) shows that there is something in the air that is morphing not only how we live but how we look and express ourselves.

Now, on to the political. Vogue fashion journalist Sarah Mower was at the Sacai show in Paris and reported on the inspiration and subtext for this saturated collection:
"Why would a Japanese designer in Tokyo wish to collaborate with a Hawaiian shirt brand in Honolulu? Think about it a moment, and you realize that the citizens of both places are enduring the nuclear tension between North Korea and the United States. Chitose Abe is not a political or statement-making designer by any stretch of the imagination. Her quite terrific collection—men’s for Fall ’18 and women’s Pre-Fall shown together—was colorful and gutsy, seemingly less caught up in demonstrating the tricks of her trade than in making whole looks. Ultimately, though, she used her moment with the press to speak up for cross-cultural harmony, and you sensed why she was making a point of it now. Abe also put a T-shirt and fleece hoodie on the runway printed with the New York Times’s 'Truth . . .' slogan."
Amen to that.

We can always count on Walter Van Beirendonck to provoke. I like his collections not because they are lyrically pleasing to the eye or even wearable (for the most part) but because they are pleasing to the intellect and emotions. I love his technicolor, abstract art sensibility. So I share this collection not only on that level, but for the inspiration and execution of the collection. It was an unashamed exploration of gay fetish culture, featuring rubber outfits with lined holes for nipples, penises, and at the mouth to accept whatever might be put in there. The words TOP, BOTTOM, and PIG were scattered on knit tops. Gas masks and references to puppy play (if you don't know what that is kids, Google it 'cuz I'm not going to explain it to you) showed up as well. But despite all this fetish and sex talk, the collection is surprisingly UN-erotic, even with tee shirts and lycra bodysuits collaged with images of muscle men from gay porn. What I love about this particular statement is not that it is shocking to display such matters culturally, but that we are at a point now where to be shocked by such matters would be shocking. Curiously, there was also a motif that looked like cartoon doodles rendered in the style of 18th century engravings along with the phrase--which is the name of the collection--STATES EMPIRES AND WORLDS OF SUN AND MOON. A nice spiritual allusion to an otherwise visceral collection.

Over in the shoe department, Glenn Martens of Y/Project teamed with Australian footwear manufacturer Ugg to create an exaggerated version of their classic suede and sheepskin boot. Martens employed a technique to make the Ugg boot seem to be three boots worn at once, and created a thigh-high version that pools and gathers. He paired these with pants that seemed to be just as layered and pooling as the boots for a mirrored effect. Martens described this layered effect as "melting," saying "You’re not really sure where one finishes and the other begins." Frankly, I love them. I own a pair of Uggs and I always want them to be higher so I can wear them slouched or rolled down, like this. Thanks Y/Project!

Some more shoes worth mentioning: Maison (Martin) Margiela, now helmed by once-disgraced super-designer John Galliano (who seems to be doing quite well these days), showed a fantastic cloven-toed leather boot (love!)...and an odd pillow-y slipper sneaker with a drawstring.

Dior Homme, a label that has shown clothing on emaciated, seemingly barely pubescent boys sent some looks down the runway on models that have a bit of mileage on them. Thank you Kris Van Assche for celebrating the sexy, mature man!


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