Chloé’s summer lightness, Raf Simons’s dark mood on show at Paris Fashion Week
Two school of thoughts vied with each other on the fourth day of Paris Fashion Week. On one side, a more naturalistic and sustainable approach to clothes, spearheaded by Chloé and driven by the label's new creative director Gabriela Hearst, and on the other, a more conceptual, contemporary fashion ideally embodied by Raf Simons.
Last winter, as the backdrop to the video of her first show for Chloé, Gabriela Hearst chose the Brasserie Lipp and the Saint-Germain cobblestones, illuminated by street lights. This season, the designer has picked another iconic Parisian location, the banks of the Seine at the port de la Tournelle, right below Notre-Dame. Walking down the quayside, flanked by the river waters shimmering in the sunlight, wearing long, white tasselled summer dresses and seashell jewellery, the models seemed to be prolonging summer.
Uruguay-born and US-based designer Gabriela Hearst, in charge of style for the Richemont group’s Parisian label since December 2020, confirmed her eco-sustainable orientation with a luxurious, laid-back Spring/Summer 2022 collection, in which a majority of items are manufactured with recycled materials, fabric offcuts and left-overs from the label's previous collections. Up to 58% of the garments in Chloé’s Spring/Summer 2022 wardrobe use low-impact materials, as opposed to 40% for the Fall/Winter 2021-22 collection.
Hearst has a penchant for long, generously cut silhouettes. Her cream-coloured maxi dresses in raw silk with a textured effect are rich in tassels, as are the jackets and trousers. Other dresses are fastened on the front by a tracery of laces threaded into multiple metallic eyelets. It is all about the details, like the hand-glazed ceramic buttons and the tassels-laces, recycled from sneaker material and decorated with stones and pieces of metal that trim a top, creating a fluctuating wave effect.
There is patchwork galore in the long Napa leather dresses and the short tunic dresses decorated with colourful suede patches, or the crocheted mini tunics hand-made from miniature scallop-shaped doilies that create a mosaic effect. Hearst also resorts to plenty of macramé, for her tunic dresses and colourful net bags, and the exotic open-work tops incorporating seashells, worn over a more understated dress.
The register was completely different at Raf Simons, which staged a techno evening at Palais Brongniart. A powerful siren blares, followed by a long silence. The first models burst through in the darkness clad in total-black looks, from patent leather lace-up shoes (or stiletto heels for the girls) and mid-calf socks to dresses and suits.
The latter are inscribed with words like ‘transonizer’ and ‘echoboomer’ and with heavy-metal-inspired graphics, all of them in explosively bright yellows, reds and greens. Otherwise, the Belgian designer's latest collection is overwhelmingly black. But Simons’s dark mood is subtly veined with a wiser, more bourgeois aesthetic that inevitably brings to mind the world of Miuccia Prada, with whom Simons has been working for the last three seasons.
His pleated skirts, mid-length dresses and white shirts for society girls are a clear nod to the Milanese label. Not to mention the abundance of short-sleeved sack dresses, rather austere and featured in satin, silk and moiré nylon-effect fabrics, an undisguised reference to Prada’s fetish material. Instead of the triangle now cropping up on all the Milanese label's garments, Simons’s new items conspicuously feature labels with the Raf Simons signature in vintage-style lettering.
The designer also added an amusing touch by tucking in the elbows of shirts and sweaters with mini skeleton hands, giving more volume to the sleeves. The entire wardrobe is designed in the oversized proportions so dear to Simons, with rounded, oval cuts that envelop the body. From maxi sport jackets to extra-large jacquard sweaters, to the XXL shirts with giant cuffs that cover the hands entirely.
Boys and girls wear the same mid-length outfits, featuring maxi jackets and tunic dresses with unstitched hems layered over sheets of frayed fabric, as though the lining overflowed from the garment. The boys simply swap pleated skirts for wrapped skirts with frontal slits. Brightly coloured, visored handkerchief-style hats parked on their heads complete the look.
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