Sculptural garments were a thing of beauty at many of the pristine shows during Paris fashion week. The most notable: Balenciaga, Thom Brown, Givenchy and Saint Laurent. I will begin with Balenciaga. Renowned in for his contemporary, barrier-breaking designs, Cristobal Balenciaga was named a ‘Master’ of Haute Couture by non-other than Christian Dior himself. For the mid-twentieth century, many of Balenciaga’s designs were, at times, almost too contemporary for even his most loyal of clients. Today, Balenciaga is hot press and anyone who is anyone (and even the nobodies) know of Balenciaga; be it by the razor-sharp knife sock boots or the (at the time) infamous sack dress. With Demna Gvasalia, at present, creative director of the house, each show is widely anticipated. Structural pieces which took the forms of suit jackets and coats could be viewed as part of both the female and male collections. These pieces undoubtedly nodded towards the house history and synonymously gravitated and cinched at the waist and bulging at the hips. The effect was an exaggerated hour-glass figure and the result: fine pieces of tailoring with a contemporary edge.
Another designer who flaunted their ability to produce high-fashion garments with a sculpturally abstract flare was Thom Browne. Globally renowned for his constant attempts to push fashion is Mr Browne. Finding global fame when Michelle Obama asked him to design a coat for her husband’s inauguration, and since then, his success has only triumphed. My first talking point has to be those culottes. Made from (what one could only assume) two hoops of crinoline, the gigantic grey trousers must have spanned at least a meter wide on each leg. The torso: a smart blazer and matching tie with a sensible beige overcoat. Another notable design was the grey tweed dress which was nothing out of the norm until you reached the skirt: of which resembled a naked female body. To me, the collection was a celebration of the body and textures in which we use to amplify the beauty of such.
Givenchy is next on my hit list and it is at the expense of two dresses. For the finale of Givenchy’s AW18 show, two dresses were the real show stoppers. Waves and pleats of galactic purple took the form of a three-tiered midi dress. The fabric secured around the model’s neck and the way it curled at the edges and the perfect nature of the ruffles reminded me of a sacred creature you would only find in the deepest depths of the ocean. The final piece to be shown was a similar dress in jet black and shortened the length to a mini dress. I am struggling to find the words to specify the, perhaps, enchantment and magic that surrounds these two designs.
I also want to talk about those little black dresses from Anthony Vaccarello’s AW collection at Saint Laurent. During the latter part of the moody show, Vaccarello presented a variety of designs that conveyed structural strength. My favourite was an off the shoulder number which sported a sweetheart neckline. Pouring from one of the bosoms is two waves of clear-cut fabric, making pretty ruffles towards the hem of the dress.
Abstract form and fantasy costume would not have the place it has in fashion today without visionary: Rei Kawakubo. Founder of Comme De Garcons, this modernist designer continues to shatter pre-assumed notions and progressively challenges attitudes to beauty, fashion and culture in the world we live in today through her avant-garde, futuristic and very contemporary designs. For AW, audiences were treated to a slashed jumper featuring Betty Boop on top of an inflated lilac dress. I think the visuals speak for themselves.