What Paris Taught Me About Fashion

Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu and Balenciaga closed out fashion month.

03.07.18

My boyfriend gave me a vicarious tour of the Musée d’Orsay through his phone on Saturday. I’d been at shows and fashion week appointments while he’d spent the morning alone, circling sculptures and considering them from various angles. He was particularly taken with a zoomed-in shot of a hand grabbing an arm, where Jean Hugues had carved, out of stone, the effect of a thumb pressing into flesh.

Miu Miu Fall/Winter ’18

This detail rocked his world. He’s getting his masters in classical painting, which means he’s being trained to critically observe the human form and learn how to create nuanced detail by playing with degrees of shadow and light. Needless to say, we were on different wavelengths. But I agreed it was impressive — mind-blowing, when I thought about it. Imagine what it’s like to make an anatomically correct man, with all the accompanying lumps and bumps and joints and crannies (picture a knee, just for starters) out of stone.

There’s no way I would have imagined it had he not brought it up, though. Sometimes it takes another person’s eye for your own point of view to kick in. I thought about this after the Miu Miu show, which I had a hard time processing. The show itself was pretty 80s-literal. I could quickly identify The Shoes everyone will own (if not the colorful, patent leather Mary Jane heels, then definitely the foot-strapped ankle boots as a follow up to her popular ballet flats); I liked the sleeves so puffed they turned the models into O’s; I could see the skirts becoming instant Fall 18 wardrobe staples.

But because it was a creation of Miuccia Prada’s, I knew there had to be more to it — and that I hadn’t caught the bug yet. It wasn’t until later, as I clicked through Instagram stories and saw Nicole Chapoteau’s excitement over the collection, that I began to reconsider the details I’d possibly missed. For one, the quality and craftsmanship have to be pretty incredible and impeccable to get leather to bundle or fall like that of the coats’ fabric. And for two, part of Miuccia’s appeal is that all of her creations are a little funky on purpose. She’s an original injector of humor into fashion.

Balenciaga Fall/Winter ’18

It was also a reminder these looks aren’t meant for my personal wardrobe. I write so first-person that sometimes, during shows, I forget to think editorially.

A collection like Balengica’s, which showed toward the beginning of Paris Fashion Week, practically forces you to think in terms of editorials. Demna Gvasalia’s couture-style winter coats that closed the show beg to be shot with a wide lens and a zany concept — or perhaps something juxtaposed: a massive “ski” coat, layered 100 times, over a black tie dress.

He creates in terms of concept, and yet, masterfully, doesn’t get so conceptual that you can’t picture yourself wearing it on the street. This season, he put blazers with scooped-in waists on both women and men, not to be provocative or make a statement, but because he sees the future of fashion this way. He doesn’t play with proportion to be weird, but because he, like Hugues’ thumb pressing into stone flesh, wants to better understand clothes — how we wear them, why we wear them, and how we could improve upon them. Literally: Vogue.com’s Sarah Mower explained that Gvasalia used a “high-tech computer-enabled process” that involved 3-D scans of the models’ bodies. Molds were printed from the scans, fabrics were then bonded to the molds.

In terms of improving upon fashion as an industry: part of Balenciaga’s collection included World Food Program merch that will be sold “to benefit the United Nations charity which acts to relieve food poverty.” In addition, Balenciaga donated $250,000 to the fund.

Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter ’18

Fashion met the future yet again at Louis Vuitton, where Nicolas Ghesquière’s models walked out of the Louvre, down a carpeted runway, onto a spaceship that sat in the middle of a U-shaped arena, and back up into the museum. It could be interpreted as a metaphor for the merging between old and new, history-in-the-making and history-as-it-happened. Or you could just appreciate it for the fact that, holy crap, you’re at a Louis Vuitton show in a secret Louvre courtyard.

The setting was incredible, but the clothes told their own luxury-consumer-friendly story: a wardrobe of skirts, tops, pants and jackets for the fiercely successful woman, power dressing minus the shoulder pads. My favorite: a glittering green sweater under gray wool top that split like an open zipper to create a peplum. It was the type of collection that, if someone outside the industry didn’t get it, I could easily walk them through on my phone, zoom in and explain. However, my “expertise” is likely unneeded: nothing about the show was over-styled; there was nothing complicated to decipher. It took me a minute, after a week of figuring collections out, to remember that it’s also okay to just watch the show and enjoy them. Sometimes, it’s nice to let beautiful clothes be beautiful clothes, without the crop-shot zoom-in.

Feature photo via Getty Images. 

Get more Personal Style ?