From escapism at the disco to resistance and aggression, even to pondering the importance of the postal service while working from home, designers in Paris have presented divergent creative responses to the global health crisis as spring-summer shows continued on Friday.
Like Milan before it, Paris is undertaking an unusual fashion season for spring-summer 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
For its nine-day duration, the calendar is flitting between 16 in-person, ready-to-wear runway collections, with masked guests, celebrities and editors in seated rows, about 20 in-person presentations, and several dozen completely digital shows streamed online with promotional videos.
Some of the show’s highlights:
Issey Miyake’s post
While staring at the sea of boxes due to be shipped to Paris, the head designer of the Japanese house famed for its techno-fabrics came up with the starting point of its latest collection.
There, Satoshi Kondo had an epiphany. His design idea was to make a whole display so compact it could fit into one box – by tying, rolling, folding, stacking, and layering garments.
“I was inspired by the idea of delivering garments in compact forms to people all around the world and by doing so sharing the wonder and joy of unpacking them,” Kondo told The Associated Press news agency in an email.
Another inspiration for Kondo’s new design idea was the work-from-home conditions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. He argues that many people are now working from home and more people rely on mail and deliveries.
“As my team and I found ourselves working from home, I started to explore the idea of how a garment can be packed or unpacked,” Kondo added.
Models present creations by designer Maria Grazia Chiuri as part of her spring/summer 2021 ready-to-wear collection show for fashion house Dior during Paris Fashion Week in Paris, France [File: Benoit Tessier/Reuters]The collection was titled “unpack the compact”.
Lightweight black, white coffee and iceberg vests were made up by molding fabrics into a soft shell so that there were no seams. A loose cadmium orange dress was the strongest piece in a series of garments made of interlocking pieces of fabric that are held together by zippers. On one biker jacket in that series, the wearer can play around with the zippers to create a different form.
“The garments I have created for this collection allow our perspectives to change, creating a multidimensional experience when realizing that the compact abstractions can be worn,” Kondo said.
Paris fashion museum reopens
After delays because of the COVID-19 crisis, Paris fashion museum the Palais Galliera has finally reopened – following about two years of construction and renovation work – to coincide with Paris Fashion Week.
The opening exhibition appropriately is a retrospective dedicated to the pioneering Parisian designer Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel who died in 1971. The exhibit moves from the start of her career, featuring key garments such as an iconic 1916 striped jersey, all the way to the LBD of the 1920s and the pre-World War II period.
A model presents a creation by designer Maria Grazia Chiuri as part of her spring/summer 2021 ready-to-wear collection show for fashion house Dior during Paris Fashion Week in Paris, France [File: Benoit Tessier/Reuters]The designer’s life came at a consequential moment in Europe, as war nearly shuttered her fashion house. Perfume and accessories were for a period the only surviving lines sold at 31 rue Cambon in Paris. Chanel thus made her name as much in perfume as couture, and the enduring No. 5 fragrance – created in 1921 and immortalised by Marilyn Monroe – is given an entire room. The exhibit runs until March 14.
Fashion “rebels” Debbie Harry of Blondie and singer Kim Wilde were cited as inspirations for French designer Isabel Marant’s spring/summer collection on Thursday night, which sparkled with 1980s shimmer and bright statement colour.
The fun, girly looks – such mini-shorts revealing inches of legs, a one-shouldered skintight purple glitter dress and a pair of shimmering high-waisted lame culottes in brilliant lavender – did not seem to reference the resistance and aggression seen by other designers responding to the uncertain times.
At this house, Marant said her response was “a burning desire to go out, dance and escape”. The large leather cowboy style boots channelled the decade of excess – but this collection imitated that era’s styles, more than innovating its own.