It was a sleepy few seasons for Isabel Marant following The Big Bang of sneaker wedges! Hawaiian prints! Coachella! — not because the clothing was any less good but because we wanted more. The effortless French-bohème aesthetic that Isabel Marant constructed, her very simple (and easy-to-buy) commodification of cool, went way too far beyond her control. It stopped working. But sometimes the best way to reconcile a collection (or anything, really) is to manage expectations. Last season, there were liquid lamé flight suits, parachute pants and embellished trapeze boleros that made no sense in real time as far as I was concerned but are slowly and surely finding comfort in the fashion zeitgeist.
For fall? All hail the 80s! Or is it 50s? On display was another instance of leopard print marking its value as a neutral. There were more patent leather and big grandparent cardigans. The menswear was strong: roomy trousers and well-fitting coats that will provide a respite from the skinny pants made only for the very tiny. I really liked the collection. I didn’t find it particularly novel; I’d seen it all before but that didn’t numb me. In fact, I felt a jolt of inspiration. I’d wait six months for these clothes, no problem. And through that thought process, I questioned the previous hypothesis fashion has been exploiting as of recent: the system is broken, no one wants to wait.
Acne Studios has proven the value in a built-in wait time. I left last season’s show confounded — I didn’t get it, I didn’t like it — and while this season I was acutely aware of the fact that these clothes are not made for me, I could appreciate who they are made for, and what’s compelling about them. It’s an off-kilter cool. Shall we count the ways how?
1. Sunglasses that look like tiny and slanted sheer lemon drops.
2. Sandals with buckles that fasten around a foot’s middle toe, not to be confused with big toe.
3. Leopard print body socks that could have been Yeezy but hold more cache when they’re Acne
4. Really skinny pants, also made for no one but tiny humans with fabric underwear sewn over them.
The puffer coats were also either styled to look like a young kid was trying to get himself dressed or deliberately made to look like that but either way it worked because it tapped into the imagination I’ve been thinking so much about this season: that primal instinct not to revert to the rules, or do what is considered “normal,” but to follow your thought process as it takes you to the point of execution. This is the merit of being a child who has not yet been robbed of his ability to think freely. Do you know what I mean?
And for what it’s worth, that stripped metallic jumpsuit is going to look fantastic in a future Beyoncé music video.
Guillaume Henry has been designing Nina Ricci for the past six runway seasons. When his predecessor, Peter Copping, left to join Oscar de la Renta, he put in Henry’s hand a house of delicate garments comprised, essentially, of black tie lingerie. What the house looks like now is a more youthful take on a woman’s 40s. Recently I heard someone discuss this decade as a “lost one” of female humanity: you become invisible, stop mattering — it sounded like bullshit — but it got me thinking about how that can translate in fashion: are any of the houses we hold precious built to support a woman who hasn’t quite hit middle age but isn’t really in her “youth”?
It’s kind of a silly question. But with the stunning robe coats rendered in obscenely luxurious fabrics, and the sequined dresses that keep coming back and are getting more powerful, and the plunging necklines and zip-up turtlenecks (kind of similar to early Nicolas Ghesquière for Vuitton, but also very much on theme with our favorite trend of the season), these clothes seem made for that tender in-between time. And it’s got to be tender, no? If you want to pick something up early, or late, it’s there for the taking. But at Nina Ricci, this girl-becoming-woman is the centerpiece, anything but invisible.
Photographs via Vogue Runway; collage by Emily Zirimis.