Paris Fashion Week: Wanderlust took over the Leonard, Christian Wijnants, Giambattista Valli and Issey Miyake collections
The urge to set sail clearly resounded in Paris, during this first proper post-Covid women's ready-to-wear fashion week. For Spring/Summer 2023, more than one designer expressed their desire to travel to distant lands. This was notably the case on Friday, when Leonard Paris took its audience to a Caribbean lagoon, Giambattista Valli to India and Christian Wijnants to the open sea. Meanwhile, Issey Miyake paid a touching tribute to its founder, who passed away in August.
The Japanese fashion brand's show was indeed quite emotional as the black-and-white portrait of the designer who died in August in Japan at the age of 84 was projected on the walls of the dark hangar, with the following sentence written in his handwriting: "I believe there is hope in design."
The grand space, barely illuminated by a full moon, and several large sculptures covered with white sheets then welcomed a delicate and poetic fashion show accompanied by the gentle sounds of a grand piano.
The first minimalist black-and-white looks emerged onto the catwalk under a bright white light. Fabric panels seemed to have been delicately placed on the body. Pinched on one side, exposing one shoulder, they effortlessly draped the silhouette. After this interlude, the show resumed its course in a dimly lit room, where vibrant colors exploded onto monochrome pieces, such as lime yellow on a squared-off raincoat and on a dress draped in a spiral around the body, red on a pleated jersey dress, pink on a tunic, mauve on a tight knit dress, and green on rippled mesh dresses with billowing sleeves.
Designer Satoshi Kondo shapes, kneads, and molds like a sculptor. The knitted fabrics spiked up on the sides, arms and chest in the shape of strange animals. Beautiful knits revealed three-dimensional textures like embroideries. Oversized jackets, capes and ponchos took on the appearance of a cocoon. A white knitted dress revealed a black shadow on its back. The show ended with the company's refined choreography "I Could Never Be A Dancer" for a final emotional moment.
A new chapter began at Leonard Paris with designer Georg Lux's very first show. The brand, which was sold last summer by the founding Tribouillard family to the Japanese group Sankyo Seiko, created an electric atmosphere at its Friday morning show. Its CEO Akira Inoue was seated front row. The creative direction was inspired by Leonard's heyday, when the label dressed jet setters of the 1970s, and imagined a trip to the Caribbean.
The show immersed the audience into the sunny setting of Mustique Island, once frequented by Princess Margaret with a fauna of high society members and artists. Leonard's signature motifs from the 1970s, featuring large tropical flowers and bluish foliage, were resurrected and displayed in an aquatic color palette, yet enlivened by vibrant shades of pink, orange and sunny yellow, onto a series of small structured dresses and flowing oversized silhouettes.
The lineup included caftans, boubous, gypsy dresses, as well as pirate pants with wide ruffles and mini-skirt suits, and not to mention a turquoise macramé tunic with long fringe sprinkled with golden tassels, like fish caught in a fisherman's net. Everything oozed and exuded a carefree summer vibe. Walking on platform sandals or barefoot, with a pair of espadrilles in hand, protected from the sun by floppy beach hats, the models walked while the rows of colorful bracelets on their arms clinked, with their ears adorned with large sea anemones.
For the first time, the house introduced denim in a few printed and ripped pieces with embossed seasonal motifs. Another novelty seen in the collection was the introduction of three masculine, casual-chic looks.
The same desire for warm weather and carefreeness was also felt in Christian Wijnants' fashion show, which turned Paris into a golden beach. The models returned from the beach in long tunics or hooded caftans in different colors of the sunset (yellow, orange, mauve), adorned with a garland of fabric such as a flower necklace. Their accessories included summer essentials: sunglasses, sandals or flip-flops, with a few grains of sand still stuck to the face.
"After the pandemic, I had this strong urge to be exotic and travel," said the designer backstage. "I wanted to celebrate the summer season in the form of an end of day at the beach. There is freshness and lots of colors to deliver a positive and optimistic message," he explained.
The lightweight wardrobe featured washed silks, linen, bleached denim and crinkled materials in baggy pants, impalpable shirts, long dresses fastened with simple bows, macramé tops, ultra-light trench coats and bermuda shorts, while white cotton dresses were embellished with crochet embroidery.
For his physical return to the catwalk, Giambattista Valli also traveled to an exotic destination. He flew the audience to India, more precisely to Jaipur in Rajasthan, to the land of the maharajas, with women richly dressed in turbans and adorned with a thousand jewels, while their eyes were kept hidden by star-shaped glasses.
The collection's lace sets mimicked the effect of the back of Thonet wicker chairs. Pinks took over flowing ball gowns or ran up the length of translucent organza pieces, while trouser-bra sets were rendered in pink lace.
The collection sparkled with a thousand lights. From top, with the models' foreheads illuminated by a diamond Indian 'Bindi', to bottom, where their feet were clad with gladiator sandals featuring golden laces encrusted with pearls. The ensembles were brimming with crystals and golden glitter. Golden reflections lit up princess dresses in tulle or muslin, while large earrings glistened on the models' ears.
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