The video has been viewed 3.8 million times on the Vogue Runway Instagram channel alone. The viewer saw how the American top model Bella Hadid, dressed only in a skin-colored thong, at the end of the fashion show for the Parisian brand Coperni, was sprinkled with a white liquid by three men in overalls. Things dried, were trimmed a bit by a fourth person, and turned out to be a durable dress, in which Hadid calmly walked down the catwalk.
What also went viral: the beginning of the Balenciaga show, held in a huge, dark event hall, where the floor was covered with 275 cubic meters of mud that smelled of decomposition – that smell was created especially for the occasion by fragrance guru Sissel Tolaas. In the middle of the muck, designed by the artist Santiago Sierra, there was a wet path. Above it, Ye (formerly known as the rapper Kanye West) stepped out in black leather pants and a black military jacket as the first of 75 models in smudged and deliberately worn clothes. The latter wore a dress made from cut and sewn Balenciaga bags.
Also on the streets of Paris and on social media, Cher on the Balmain runway, Kylie Jenner at Schiaparelli and Erykah Badu in a black hat at the Rick Owens show and a pink hat at Valentino. It rained in the fashion journalists’ digital mailboxes – even before the collection was announced – about celebrities and influencers who were present at the exhibitions. Aside from Badu, Cher and Jenner, these shapely youngsters were starring in Netflix series like Bridgerton and Emily in Parisand rich children as the son and daughter-in-law of David and Victoria Beckham.
ok boomer, those same youngsters might say when types like your style editor complain about all the fuss about celebrity dressing and influencer marketing around fashion shows. Because in addition to clapping and clicking, there is also a lot of shouting. As by the Flemish colleague Veerle Windels, who i.a. The standard writes and notes on his Instagram page: “At Valentino, a third of the audience wore Valentino’s signature shade of pink of the season. Most of them were paid for this. I don’t know where it’s going…”
Not that every show and every presentation was such a boilerplate or publicity stunt. That would not be possible with 75 shows on the programme. One of the most unpretentious and therefore charming gatherings was the celebration of the 35th anniversary of the minimalist brand APC, which stands for Atelier de Production et de Création. Founder Jean Touitou welcomed his guests into a single room in Montmartre by playing a (fairly moderate) tune on his electric guitar and philosophizing about rebellion versus restraint. The anniversary collection was a parade of colorless (literally, that is) basics in timeless yet modern unisex designs.
Also modern, but in a very different way, was the Belgian Ester Manas’ show. She focuses on all possible shapes of a woman’s body and creates stretchy, colorful clothes that suit all women. Her collection was shown by mannequins with real breasts and buttocks – a breath of fresh air among the other models who, apart from a single ‘full’ size 40, are again shockingly thin.
Also the presentation of the Dutch label Extreme Cashmere, founded in 2016 by Saskia Dijkstra, was pleasantly calm and celebrity-free, and was above all about the material, the design and how they relate to the body. In a fairytale-like villa just behind the Musée d’Orsay, the brand showed high-quality cashmere T-shirts, jumpers and dresses. Clothes that cost a lot of money, but which, due to the timeless design and with good care, will last a long time.
There were quite a few Dutch in Paris. On the catwalk, high school sweethearts and creative tandem Lisi Herrebrugh and Rushemy Botter showed the collection of their brand Botter. Amsterdam-based Ninamounah staged an intimate performance to showcase her collection of pierced and twisted jackets, shirts and trousers.
On the other side of town, in the posh Rue de Longchamp, Elza Wandler showed her first clothing collection. The Limburg designer, who broke through with his minimalist bags five years ago and also added a successful shoe line to it, wants to develop his label into a full fashion house. Models showed supple leather jackets, jeans with sequins and silk dresses and blouses in natural and pastel shades. “These days, what’s being commissioned is especially exciting,” Wandler said. ‘Fortunately, the big webshops that sell my bags have already placed orders.’ What does Wandler, who has made quite a lot of progress in the five years her brand has been in existence, still dream of? ‘Breaking into the Asian market. Then you can really grow and build.’
Another ambitious Dutch designer, Duran Lantink, born in The Hague, was also in Paris. Not to show off, but to build relationships and do so-called ‘celebrity fittings’. For example, for the singer Pink, who ordered two coats through her stylist, to be ready within four days and already in LA. “Amsterdam is a nice city, but not the place to be if you want to grow,” said Lantink. ‘There is now a good atmosphere in Paris, I have to be there, I feel that very strongly. I have rented a small apartment and will now live half in Amsterdam and half in Paris.’ Regardless of whether Lantink dreams of being incorporated into a large conglomerate or of becoming the chief designer of a large existing house? “Well, it depends. Only if I can stay myself, not be limited and let my creativity run wild.’
Individuality, hunger to make and the urge to express yourself through clothes. It remains the source of fashion that is often overlooked in the frenzy of fashion weeks. Therefore, it was sometimes difficult to find craftsmanship, emotion and poetry on the catwalks. Thankfully Japanese greats Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto were back, Issey Miyake’s show was a joyous tribute to the recently deceased master’s craft and technique. On behalf of the Hermès house, designer Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski showed a modest but smart example of luxurious leather use. Belgian Dries Van Noten finally put on a real show again. The American Rick Owens showed a strong collection on the stairs and terrace of the Palais de Tokyo, where dream dresses and robust draperies came together.
The most enchanting of the great shows attended was the Spanish house Loewe. Bach’s cello music and the location, a stark white lacquered floor in the gendarmerie stables, were the perfect setting for a collection that the Irishman JW Anderson based on the bright red anthurium. His fascination with this flower, so exuberant as to seem fake, resulted in dresses with plastic flower bowls as bras or tops. Anderson played with contrasts, proportions and silhouettes. Cute floral tunics turned out to be hard plastic, pumps were either inflated into Minnie Mouse shoes or covered in dozens of empty balloons. He also showed dresses that looked shrunken, jackets with bell edges and, between the flowers and the femininity, some looks that resembled the pixelated clothes of Minecraft dolls. A witty and predictable twist, now brands like Balenciaga and Gucci are designing digital clothes for games.
The question remains where all this is going, to quote Mr. Windels again. Where does the road lead now, as the world of fashion and the metaverse begin to merge? What comes after dresses sprouting from spray cans, on catwalks littered with dirt and dirty clothes? How much longer will the celebrity circus hide fashion itself? How long can you dance in the eye of the hurricane? In any case, where it is going – perhaps that is why it was all so hysterical – is a sharp drop in purchasing power, after the post-pandemic spending spree. The exhibited collections will be on the shelves in early spring. It is up to the consumer to choose: will it be a glitter dress or a warmer?
The saying ‘the crazier the shoes, the cooler’ has been around for some time during fashion weeks. In Paris, Erykah Badu took the odd shoe race to the next level by appearing at Rick Owens’ show at the Palais de Tokyo wearing knitted sea anemones over her feet, made by Texan Myah Hasbany. Hasbany is now studying fashion at Central Saint Martins in London, but went to the same high school in Dallas as Badu.