Paris Fashion Presentations: Olivier Theyskens; Minuit; Zadig & Voltaire
Paris had scores of presentations this season, as smaller houses skipped actual runway events, and organized appointments with designers by rendez-vous. All of them offered opportunities to see clothes up close and personal with the creators – from the bohemian Marais to the posh 16th arrondissement.
Here are three contrasting collections, which collectively captured the unique ability of Paris to offer so many different voices in the world of style.
Olivier Theyskens: French rock-goddess chic
Mylène Farmer to the max this season at Olivier Theyskens, who harked back to the costumed French rock goddess of his youth in an excellent new collection.
Like so many designers, Theyskens is referencing his youth, and getting back to basics with the pandemic: in Olivier’s case, when he was barely 10, and Farmer exploded all over French TV with her historic videos clips.
“Actually, people used to tease me for being a little naff for liking Mylène Farmer, but she encompasses a lot of what the Theyskens woman represents. Guts, character, style and independence,” explained Theyskens, who showed at his new pop-up store and atelier in a gallery in the Marais. The Belgian enfant terrible of sexy goth style has been moving spaces and showrooms over the past few months, before landing up in an elongated loft on at the eastern end of rue Réaumur.
From his signature seductive gothic widows in pleated Cupro gowns or slinky after-midnight cocktails to suggestive bias-cut dresses or tight leather posh dominatrix looks, Farmer would surely love this homage. Come to think of it Mylène, who made the most expensive French rock videos ever, and who still holds the record for most number ones in the local charts, should really record another opus, to give Theyskens' latest ideas their proper backdrop.
Minuit: French girls in New York
One new marque that really made a mark, excuse the pun, is Minuit, launched this season in the Marais by a Parisian duo who cut their design teeth in Manhattan.
A cool meeting of relaxed sophistication; lush fabrics and French je ne sais quoi, Minuit debuted its first collection in an art gallery in the Marais this past week.
It’s the brainchild of Laurie Arbellot, lives in Paris, and Marion Anais Forand, who lives in Williamsburg. They met while working at America’s most prominent new fashion house of the past 15 years, Proenza Schouler. And their designs have something of the modern chic of that New York house; a blend of downtown cool with uptown attitude.
Made of first-rate Italian fabrics, Minuit showed great indented cloqué silk pant suits; darn well draped tangerine velvet suede pants and bras; surgically cut mini boleros; saucy black negligée dresses with chain metal straps and great décolleté cotton blouses.
It all reeks rather rich, without even being uptight. The message was clear and concise - French girls cut a swathe in New York.
Zadig & Voltaire: Laid-back sustainability
Zadig & Voltaire’s designer Cecilia Bönström showed her latest ideas in a loft space in the tony 16th, with views over the rooftops to the Eiffel Tower, albeit during one of the wettest Paris Fashion Weeks in eons.
But there was nothing damp about Bönström's take on French rocker style, which the creative director termed: 'The Real Wardrobe, Sustainable Edition.' A pianist played jazzy sonatas with bursts of Cole Porter as the hot-looking cast wandered around the art filled top-floor loft. Other youths wrote the names of visiting editors rune-style on pebbles as neat gifts for visitors to the space on rue Galilée.
“I wanted a fully eco-responsible collection,” explained the designer, who showed repurposed cotton T-shirts and recycled wool tanks in a veritably androgynous style. For spring-summer 2021, Cecilia wants guys and dolls in her oversized boyfriend sweaters, all held a little askew by safety pins; great track pants and shirts with extended cuffs; trousers cut with horizontal slits at the waistline and girls' white daytime tuxedos.
Back in the Bible, Jesus walked on the water in the Sea of Galilee; and was even able to feed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish. We’re not suggesting Bönström, or Zadig & Voltaire, have these sort of powers. But at the very least it will make a lot of youth look and feel better about themselves. Which, lest we forget, is slightly the whole point of fashion.
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