Jan 20, 2023
This Thursday, buyers, journalists and fashionistas walked through Paris, which was empty in some area and manic in others, due to a big day of strike in protest against the raise of the retirement age, announced by the French government. Three international fashion houses, Rains, Issey Miyake and Sean Suen unveiled their collections in an unusual atmosphere in the French capital, each with a strong vision.
Rains’ post-apocalyptic heroes
On January 19, 2022, the fashion population crowded at the entrance of the Danish brand’s fashion show in the chilly morning, waiting in front the Last Bar Before the End of the World, in the Châtelet district. A nod to the theme of the show presented by Philip Lotko, Daniel Brix Hesselager and their team. After climbing a few floors via a security staircase, the audience settled into a large room plunged into darkness with high ceilings. An intense cello piece marked the beginning of the show, and a large curtain then revealed the Châtelet theatre: the catwalk and its spectators were in fact on the stage of the great Parisian stage built in 1862 and which hosts the annual French cinema César awards.
And there was plenty of cinematic inspiration. In a dark atmosphere, carried by a tense and oppressive soundtrack, Rains’ models set out determined to face the challenges of a neurotic era. Like survivors of a cataclysm, they wore futuristic outfits ready to face the harshness of the elements as well as their fellow humans. More than just silhouettes, the looks call on references from the world of science fiction and anticipation. For the presentation of this autumn-winter 2023/24 collection, the label specialising in sleeved pieces has pushed the boat when it comes to interpreting its universe.
“Our idea was to celebrate everyday heroes, ready to face difficult situations. Our approach is not dark and many of the pieces are colourful and even the music is at times upbeat, but even superheroes have their dark side,” explained Philip Lotko after the show. “Of course, from a commercial point of view many of the pieces in the show are not practical. But we use our own materials, the foundation of our patterns and involve the whole design team in the process. This also frees up the team’s creativity and this is reflected in the whole collection.”
The show was a real parade of different characters with unstructured haircuts and sometimes uncomfortable make-up. Some looked like vagabonds, reminiscent of McCarthy’s The Road, with neo-punk hair styles standing up on their heads, wearing several layers of down jackets, with or without sleeves, khaki outfits with multiple pockets, or huge parkas that fell to the ground, all of them always with surprisingly large bags that allowed them to carry their vital resources.
Sometimes, the silhouettes evoked castes or nobles, like from Dune or Star Wars. The slender young women wore anthracite strapless dresses, sleeveless with a short train, their faces lost in a black hood, or large royal blue coats.
For the men, a large light yellow overcoat, with a tone on tone loose-fitting down jacket and trousers that could fit over ski boots… except he was wearing sneakers from the brand’s collab with German 3D printed sneaker brand Zellerfeld (which has collaborated with Heron Preston, among others) set to be released soon.
Some of the jackets had oversized collars that covered almost the entire head… but still allowed for long hair to fall down to the middle of the back through a cut at the shoulder blades. Even more eccentric were the short, long or even dress-like down jackets, whose sleeves were joined by a thick cord in the models’ back. A female duo, like Siamese twins from the future, was thus linked and forced to move forward together.
Some of the characters had an R on their shoulder or chest, as if they were the superheroes of tomorrow. And finally, a powerful and determined bride took to the runway. A huge R was embossed in large format on the back of her voluminous dress as she joined her tribe in the Châtelet theatre. For the duration of the show, Rains was able to enter a dreamlike world without losing the brand’s DNA.
A return to calm at Issey Miyake
A return to a state of calm at Issey Miyake, which unveiled its new collection “Homme plissé” at the Palais de Tokyo. A moment of poetry far from the noise and the traffic, where fashion continued, as if nothing was going on. The stage, plunged into darkness, was illuminated by a myriad of lights, projecting the audience into a galaxy or a virtual third dimension.
The acrobatic dancers of Adrien Mondot and Claire Bardainne’s company paraded a long veil in a delicate wave motion, performing cartwheels and rolls, while clouds stretched out in volutes on the walls. The models followed one another, striding down the catwalk in their pleated and colourful outfits. They combined flowing and wide shorts with tops, mid-length shirts and light jackets in different colours. Deep green and taupe grey, orange and khaki, purple and lime.
Sleeveless cardigans were stretched out into tunics, or turned into playsuits. Still working on its emblematic pleated technique, the Japanese house offered knitted ensembles, or in a more sporty vein, nylon trousers and hooded windbreakers. It explored different variations of pleats, wider in rust or ash blue overcoats, flattened diagonally in a quilted mint green waistcoat or gathered on the shoulders and edges of some of the other pieces.
Issey Miyake also played with construction, rounding the shoulders and silhouettes of jackets and coats, assembling triangles of fabric to make certain garments, or folding panels into detachable pockets with press studs. The collection was comfortable and light, allowing great freedom of movement. A movement accentuated in some pieces with graphic prints.
Powerful silhouettes by Sean Suen
Sean Suen’s silhouettes were powerful, inspired by the ancestral culture of the Yi people from the mountainous regions of Sichuan. The Chinese designer rigorously cut suits, coats and jackets from precious black woolen sheets, which were buttoned on the right side, like the traditional costumes of these people.
The sartorial collection included other elements inspired by their clothing. A turban topped with a feather, a fringed scarf worn over the shoulder, and voluminous pleated trousers. Large metallic jewelled buttons adorned the silhouettes, worn as brooches, on the buckle of a belt, as rings sewn onto woollen gloves or as studs lining black leather shoes.
Leather, in particular, was worked in different textures, smooth or with lizard effects, used to make impeccably cut suits as well as a coat and trousers with a skirt-like appearance. Large pelisses completed the collection’s dark palette, illuminated by the orange glow of a satin shirt and trousers. Solemnity and spirituality seemed to run through the collection, in particular, via the ample trousers, reminiscent of the long robes worn by monks, just like a maxi coat worn inside out, cassock style.
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