Paris Dispatch: Have We Been Robbed of Our Imaginations?
Chloé, Carven, Lanvin remind us to acknowledge the grand vision
The Chloé show notes read: “Attitudes: great escape, passionate adventurer, collecting moments, spontaneous journeys, curious spirit.” And that’s exactly what we got: motorcycle pants that hit the lower shin with zippers down the back to make them flare. Some pants had matching jackets — others were cloaked by wool capes that will no question punctuate what the streets of Paris look like next fashion week season. Clare Waight-Keller has come into her beat at Chloé: this woman isn’t just an adventurer for next season, she’s been traveling and gathering — fleece, shearling, patches of Mongolian fur to attach to her person — for years. But she’s also quite soft; there is always room for an airy chiffon blouse, or tent dress (to be used as clothes or shelter, that’s at your discretion).
This got me thinking about how a critic determines whether a show is up to his or her liking. If consistency ranks high on your litmus test as a reviewer, Waight Keller knocked it out of the park. Lacking was the dash of surprise that you anticipate from a new collection — the fresh breath of the future’s unknown. I really liked three key pieces: a leather boiler suit, a black faille set of overalls replete with front and back ruffle and the boots that were sprinkled throughout the entire collection, hitting mid-shin, a new length to wear with your dresses and short pants (which are still very much alive on the streets of Paris).
I wonder, though: how are the clothes I’m seeing in Paris going to translate on bodies that don’t look like the models dressed for the runways? Won’t those leather pants be bulky? How many body types can that faille set of overalls translate on? By the Tuilerie Gardens, I wondered how many laymen would be able to walk in those chunky, lace up boots at Carven.
They were crazy cool. I almost couldn’t take my eyes off of them to settle into the algae-green velvet mini skirt, or the half zips, the patent leather trousers (showing up in many places this season), and one particular puffer coat that appealed to me in the same way that a Vetements collection by the young Demna Gvasalia does. Speaking of, at Carven (in the form of bib wrapped around knit) and in otherwise places there have been a lot of sequins. Is this a direct result of the aforementioned influence? They showed last night, but not before Lanvin’s second collection minus Alber Elbaz was unveiled.
And it was lovely — there were bedazzled chokers and earrings that looked like Elbaz’s work. Ditto for the puffy sleeves and metallic ruffles coupled with very beautifully sewn together houndstooth coats and pants. It looked like a terrific market collection — these are clothes that will sell! Sell! Sell! But last night, I wanted to buy into a dream. And that got me thinking about two things.
First: because I knew this wasn’t Elbaz’s show, that an anonymous design team would be compiling the collection for what industry people call a “placeholder season,” I came in with a feeling of underwhelming-ness. Maybe that’s precisely what propelled how I felt about the clothes? Is it possible that a show’s review could precede the actual collection depending on who is disseminating the message? That doesn’t seem fair.
And on the other hand, to the point of that dream clause, there’s this: sometimes I forget that the runway season isn’t here for us to buy clothes. We’re here to comment on them — to see the most extreme versions of the garments that will sell once they are watered down for consumption-proper — and this is true for the buyers, too, who are as much in the business of selling visions and dreams as we are.
We’re here to commit to the dream. In the age of technology, though, if we can’t have it, we don’t even want to see it, which makes me wonder: have we been robbed of our imaginations?
Photographs via Vogue Runway; collage by Emily Zirimis.