Paris Dispatch #1: The “New Now” at Fashion Week

A review of Jacquemus, Dior and Saint Laurent


What a difference six months makes. When I was in Paris last February, I mostly whined about how cold I was, how cold it was to be here without knowing why I’m really here. How watching a show through my iPhone, picking up on its nuances through various portals (Snapchat, Instagram stories) make it less necessary and therefore less exciting to be in physical attendance. I wondered how I could have been so wrong about myself. I thought I loved Paris! I thought I would do anything to get here and stay here and never have to leave (reason irrelevant) and yet, there I was, writing a takedown on the city. I must have been depressed. In fact, I know I was depressed. Nothing felt important, not even new fashion — the singular clutch that has always saved me from the pits of despair. But that was then, and this? This is a new now.

No one in Paris seems to understand the new now as well as Simon Porte Jacquemus. He’s one of the rare Parisian artisans among the storied designers of this town who understand a concept I touched upon in New York: that beyond just making good clothes, designers are expected to produce personalities. His show notes read, “I don’t think I ever saw my mother more beautiful than on evenings after the beach and probably when she was in love.” The collection was an homage to that — a love letter, in ways, to the French seasides that support the memory of his late mother and a case study in using a runway, the most formal viewing of your clothes, to espouse the ease of balmy carelessness.

Maria Grazia Chiuri, up at the plate for her sixth ready-to-wear collection for Dioris committed to a different kind of “new now.” Her now is imbued with an obligation to carry the feminist torch of the implications of her post as the first female creative director at Dior. This show was inspired in part by Niki de Saint Phalle, a female photographer who had a close relationship with Marc Bohan, a former creative head of Dior, and a 1971 essay by Linda Nochlin called, “Why Have There Not Been Great Women Artists?” (This question appeared on the opening t-shirt, a sequel to last Spring’s “We Should All Be Feminists.”)

Christian Dior Spring/Summer ’18

In case you’re wondering, it was a handful: 80 looks that ran such an elaborate gamut, each series touching upon a uniquely different woman. The opening looks, 70s inspired to be sure, were comprised mostly of denim. Those became a series of motocross-inspired clothes which turned into checkered mod dresses and knee high lace up boots, all flat. Then came the embroidery on tulle, plenty of exposed legs, hips covered by briefs that peeked through sheer fabric and a couple of gimmicks to boot: illustrated dinosaurs and hearts as breast plates and colorful striped bodysuits. If collections have often felt like homogenous renderings of a single individual, this show was a nod to a nuanced take on identity-diversity. No two women are the same, right? Their clothes shouldn’t be, either.

Saint Laurent Spring/Summer ’18

Anthony Vaccarello, the greatest benefactor of Hedi Slimane’s relentless pursuit to reinterpret Saint Laurent, showed a third collection for the house he took over last September. Put plainly, it was awesome, like an exquisite trip through Morocco (flimsy white cotton, crochet, relaxed cuffed shorts) to the bar (leather, leather, boots, leather) and into a Parisian gala (the feathers! The peplums! The sequins, the zebra!). Slimane kind of invented the prioritization of attitude and energy at a show but Vaccarello is taking it home. After the show, he told Sarah Mower of Vogue, “That girl of Saint Laurent—she wants to have fun. She’s not depressed. She wants to enjoy life!” Which is exactly what you got from the clothes. They did not hit all the points of the triangle that is female identity the way Dior tried to, but the exacting focus of this party girl with her garments, practical eye candy and her attitude was powerful. She was unapologetically dismissive of the notion that anyone in the room could possibly argue they “don’t like Paris.”

Feature photo by Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images; runway photos via Vogue Runway.

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  • Bee

    Jacquemus was so good!

    • Laura Huet

      JACQUEMUS is always incredible as usual !!!!

      You totally right !!!! Those shows were amazing

      If you follow a good french influencer and fashion editor don’t hesitate to follow THE DAILY DEB

      here is the link

      BEST and enjoyed Paris Fashion Week

  • Akosua Adasi

    Jacquemus captures every South of France fantasy I have ever had and makes me even more excited for the return of hot summer months

    • Laura Huet

      JACQUEMUS is always incredible

      You totally right !!!! Those shows were amazing

      If you follow a good french influencer and fashion editor don’t hesitate to follow THE DAILY DEB

      here is the link

      BEST and enjoyed Paris Fashion Week

  • Pandora Sykes

    I literally LOVE that the Jacquemus collection La Bomba – all slashed and sheer – was named after his mother. Who’d make a tribute to their mother…. so sexy? But she WAS sexy, he said. Always sexy. Sexy at the schoolgates. Unashamedly herself and unashamedly sexy. I think that’s an awesome way to bear homage to your mother.

    Sidenote: the models at YSL are still, predictably, too thin. I’m such a fan of Vaccarello. It would have been great to see him finally shift the needle with this.

    • Laura Huet

      You totally right !!!! Those shows were amazing
      If you follow a good french influencer and fashion editor don’t hesitate to follow THE DAILY DEB
      here is the link

      BEST and enjoyed Paris Fashion Week

    • Charlie

      I agree with the LOVE! The Jacquemus collection is described as sexy (because, well it unapologetically was!) but I would also describe it as emotional. That’s how I felt at least. I was moved. It was something I haven’t felt in years with a show. Just absolutely incredible. You could really sense the woman she was and how she was through his eyes. Rarely did a tribute succeed like that in my opinion.

      • Charlie

        Sidenote: Also agree with the sidenote!

  • Laura Huet

    Thanks a lot to be here in Paris Leandra !!!!
    PFW is amazing I really enjoyed all those show
    If you follow a good french influencer and fashion editor don’t hesitate to follow THE DAILY DEB
    here is the link

    BEST and enjoyed Paris Fashion Week

  • Maren Lindquist

    My mouth was open throughout the Jacquemus slideshow. So beautiful!

  • Jane

    Envisioning myself wearing that Jacquemus hat in slide 2 to brunch

  • The Jacquemus show was a high note of the season and made me excited about fashion, something I haven’t been feeling frequently. What I loved about it was the unapologetic portrayal of woman as real, sexy and beautiful, not fetishized or infantilized. Void of high art conceptualization or foretelling of doom, disaster and horror, just great clothes that can walk off the runway into real life. I know that may sound basic, but it’s so refreshing. For the Donna Karan devotees that have felt lost since her collection was shuttered look no further than Jacquemus. I think he’s poised to go far, but would caution him to maintain his independence. See my cautionary tale here:

  • Basil

    I do like the Saint Laurent clothes, except for the mini skirts (?) with the triangle at the front. In pictures they look like nappies. I don’t know if that comes across in real life.
    I REALLY love all the feathers

  • Rachel

    Just the make a little correction, Niki de Saint Phalle wasn’t a photographer she was an artist who worked in a variety of mediums including painting, drawing, sculpture and performance art.
    I thought Dior’s use of her drawings in the collection was great and playful and not too over the top. And the interior of the building really evoked her large scale sculptural works.
    I read online that a lot of people were really upset about the use of the “why have there been not great women artists?” quote on the opening look because they didn’t know the context but I thought it was really provocative and educational. I feel like fashion, similarly to art is only judged by its aesthetic qualities and people make snap judgements about what they like based on how pretty it is. But Chiuri is doing something different and making a statement and also adding some education to her collection which I love.

  • Orsolya Ivanyi

    Niki de Saint Phalle is one of the most renowned artists from the mid-twentieth century, she was a sculptor, painter, filmmaker and a fashion model (with a cover of Vogue), not a photographer.

  • Katy

    Is it just me or would Carrie Bradshaw wear every single thing in the Jacquemus collection?

  • Victoria

    I loved the Jacquemus collection – like EVERYBODY. It seems like this is the biggest consensus of this FW (with the awesome Versace show obviously!)

    However I have to strongly disagree with the YSL (or Saint Laurent as you should say now apparently) and Dior show (and everything else in Paris so far – but, side note, we all know that Chanel will stage something fun and grandiose and amazing to save the day). Coming back to Dior and YSL, both shows seriously lacked story telling and creativity in my opinion. They looked predictable and cheap, castings were pretty bad (those YSL models! Way too skinny! I thought this would stop with Heidi Slimane leaving the house but guess I was wrong).

    Every fashion week so far had a strong identity but Paris is falling behind … It is getting boring.

  • Autumn

    I want to live in that gold Dior matching set.

  • Jay

    Truly loved Jacquemus. Like again… maybe I am boring cause its not the glitz and the sparks all over… but it is wearable – if you can afford it – and it represents some kind of cool.

    Plus, Leandra, dont complain about Paris being cold, please… In Berlin we are freezing…

    (But true, our fashion week is not at all worth visiting, even if it would be hot and mojitos for free…)

  • Anna

    Is anyone else getting Mrs.-Lovett-by-the-seaside-in-beachy-turn-of-the-century-gothic from some of those Dior looks? I love it!