Art & FashionLifestyle

Paris catwalks rediscover their cavalier swagger

paris-fashion-showHold onto your horses. French fashion is back to its swashbuckling best and the designer leading the charge is a young mixed-race man determined to give post-attacks Paris a new swagger. “I want to make all men feel like princes again,” Olivier Rousteing declared Saturday after his dashing, unashamedly masculine show for Balmain. Not since the days of the Charge of the Light Brigade has there been such an onrush of braid, breeches and boots. Rousteing’s models were not the pallid sexless automatons of so many shows.

Instead, they were dashing hussars and Cossack officers you half expected would pull cavalry swords from their gorgeous scarlet and leather cummerbunds as they thundered through a Parisian mansion. Half of them looked like they had come straight from the ball the night before Waterloo in their silk and velvet breeches, with big brass-buttoned greatcoats thrown on their shoulders, and fur and tassels flying.

‘Bring back the dream’
“Paris is the City of Light and those lights should continue to shine,” the 30-year-old designer, a favorite of pop divas Beyonce and Rihanna, told AFP. “I want to bring back the dream and beauty that is Paris… and make all men feel like princes again. “I want to show the diversity and colors of France and to show that Paris has a past, a present and it will have a future,” he added. Rousteing, who was adopted by his white parents when he was one year old, said his show was an ode to the racial and cultural diversity of the French capital.

A symphony orchestra, playing live to a hip-hop soundtrack, provided the musical tone. “Mixing Kanye West and Rihanna with a symphony orchestra is my universe. I am French in a French fashion house with a couture tradition which also has a very international influence. That for me is Paris-it is that internationalism and the richness of the mixing of cultures. This singular eagerness to embrace a diversity of cultures and ideas… enrages intolerant minds both here and abroad,” he said. An Internet darling, with 2.1 million Instagram followers, Rousteing has become a reference for stars as diverse as Jane Fonda and Nicki Minaj, who even rapped on the venerable couture brand’s name as sales have soared.

‘Selfie-made man’
Rousteing’s high-cheekboned good looks, social media savvy and friendships with stars such as West and his wife Kim Kardashian has led to him being called a “selfie-made man”-a joke he appears to delight in. Earlier in the day there was a similar defiance against giving in to fear after the November massacres from Dior’s Kris Van Assche.

Although much of his collection was in black, it was not the black of mourning, he insisted. “The events mean that we have to be stronger to make people dream. The darkness is so omnipresent that as a designer who have to go further. You need more power and strength,” he told AFP. “In fact I like the idea of darkness pushing creativity,” he said, echoing the sombre luxuriance of Dries Van Noten stand-out line, and fellow Belgian creator Walter Van Beirendonck, whose show was simply called “Woest”, which means furious in Flemish. Paris-based label Etudes-whose studio is near the Bataclan concert hall were 90 people died in November’s attacks-seemed almost to be on a war footing in their Saturday show, with a collection largely comprised of military-inspired and camouflage outfits, fighter pilot fatigues and parachute suits.

There was a similar ready-for-anything air in newcomers OAMC, whose nifty high-end functional streetwear is also created only a few blocks away and is replete with the spirit of Parisian resistance. But if you were looking for a sign that “Paris will always be Paris”, look no further than the Hermes show on Saturday night. All the elements of ineffable casual French style were there, the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie personified. Only that dried-blood red, a color that crops up across the collections like a wound, would lead you to believe that anything untoward had happened.

Bondage hits the runway at Paris Fashion Week
The odd-couple mix of bondage and big sizes collided on the Paris catwalk Friday, in clothing that was at once roomy and adorned with nude women who were tied up tight. Japanese label Christian Dada-in its first official appearance on a Paris Fashion Week runway-showed off models in ballooning stovepipe trousers and oversized overcoats, some with belts as wide as a copy of Vogue. The bondage crept in with the image of a nude kneeling woman-hands bound together behind her back-printed onto some of the spacious coats paraded on the catwalk to the echoing sound of a beating heart.

The risque theme did not stop there, with designer Masanori Morikawa saying he sprinkled the autumn and winter collection with embroidered flowers and elephants to represent male and female naughty bits. “This collection is about tying, like everything, like belts, like buckles, like bondage,” Morikawa told AFP after the show, which was inspired by controversial Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki. “I’m really mixing his iconic things and my iconic things.” Founded in 2010, Christian Dada-a mashup of Christian Dior and the anarchic art movement-is known for an edgy, rock n’ roll influence on its designs, which have included chain mail t-shirts and studded shoes.

Cerruti stays chic
Cerruti’s new star designer, American-born Jason Basmajian, sent a serious, subdued collection onto the catwalk that was certain not to offend house founder-Nino Cerruti. High-end materials-cashmere, silk and sheep skin-formed the basis for the somber-coloured collection that deviated little from standard suit and coat cuts. “I imagined a luxurious, masculine chic, but without pretension, a subtle
collection with a focus on the cut and a choice of top-of-the-line materials,” Basmajian told AFP. “Working for this international house, with Italian roots and based in Paris, allows me to take advantage of all my past experiences. Ahead of his arrival at Cerruti last year, Basmajian had worked at Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, ST Dupont and Brioni before taking his talents to legendary British tailor Gieves & Hawkes.

Dior: Kraftwerk cool
Van Assche said he took his new dark-and-dangerous-to-know look-a big departure from the bright and flowery colors of his previous more “bourgeois” collection-from a mix of eighties New Wave music, the Berlin of electronic pop pioneers Kraftwerk and skateboard culture. In case you didn’t get those influences, WestBam’s “You Need The Drugs” was playing as guests were led into the show’s set, the world’s blingiest skate park lit by a huge red chandelier and ramps edged with red neon. With long sleeves that almost become mittens, Dior has mostly resisted that baggy giganticism that has been seen a lot elsewhere in Paris this week.

Van Assche did however combine big baggy belted trousers with Scandinavian knit jumpers and hoodies, although most of the trousers with his more tailored pieces were short and close-fitting to showcase red-laced shoes. “I am distancing myself from Christian Dior,” the designer told AFP before the show. “We wanted to be radically 2016-2017. There is a younger, more fashion, perhaps less middle-class edge about this collection that is not at all nostalgic.” “It is good to have certain references, but we mustn’t abandon ourselves to that nostalgia, it won’t get us very far,” he said. His last collection full of the white rose Dior motif was “particularly colorful for me”, he said.

Paris catwalks rediscover their cavalier swagger
“After that I wanted to do the opposite, to do black, the night, Berlin, a collection with a very different tone.” And it seemed to go down well with his celebrity guests. Korean K-pop star T.O.P said he “loved it” while Chinese movie heartthrob Yang Yang was equally taken. “It’s great,” he said. Van Assche denied, however, that the collection’s heavy reliance on black and other sombre colors was a reflection of the mood in Paris after the terror attacks.

“I have never found that black was about darkness. I think there is a lot of beauty and romanticism in it,” he said. Earlier the Paris-based label Etudes-whose studio is near the Bataclan concert hall were 90 people died in November’s attacks — seemed almost to be on a war footing, with a collection largely comprised of military-inspired and camouflage outfits, fighter pilot fatigues and parachute suits.-AFP

Back to top button