PARIS – Giant leather pumpkins squashed on a brown “soil” carpet had fashion editors snapping their cameras at Friday’s installment of Paris Fashion Week.
This strange scene, the brainchild of Jonathan Anderson, was a prelude to a surreal and thought-provoking collection for Loewe — one of the strongest seen this season.
Here are some highlights of ready-to-wear displays for fall-winter 2022, included how big fashion companies have begun voicing support for those caught in the Ukrainian conflict.
LOEWE LIVES FOR THE APPLAUSE
If kink and quirk were to have a love child, it may well have looked like Loewe’s Friday morning runway display.
Anderson, its 37-year old Northern Irish designer, was on fine form this season presenting a veritable fashion encyclopedia of surreal and creative fares to the VIP crowd -- all in front of a gargantuan marrow installation by artist Anthea Hamilton.
Fetishistic black dresses appeared alongside lip breastplates, molded felt bustiers and balloon bras. Boots frothed in silver. While one series of gowns sported possibly the most unusual hem ever presented in Paris: A car.
It was a moment of creative genius almost defying description.
Textures, colors, styles and shapes clashed and contrasted in a collection that was able to be fun and playful -- without ever falling into distasteful pastiche.
It garnered roaring applause -- boding well for the direction of the age-old house that has gained renewed focus in recent years.
VTMNTS IS COOL
It-brand VTMNTS or Vetements -- which means “clothes” in French — see fall and winter as a cold season. This is perhaps the reason why the entire collection of the Zurich-based fashion house was devoted to the coat — as an art piece, but also as a practical way to stave off low temperatures.
The designs by Guram Gvasalia — younger brother of Balenciaga’s creative director Demna Gvasalia — were typically cool. The house prides itself on putting out looks that could have been taken from the street. And here — in truncated black puffers, double breasted jackets and half-denim, half-leather jackets — these felt like the streets of East London.
A regular dark vanilla double breasted jacket was paired with regular baggy jeans, and regular black shoes. Only black gloves and a polo neck betrayed the look as being high fashion. Elsewhere, similar subtleties were at work: Below a double breasted jacket, sheeny baggy pants in royal blue had a slit down the leg revealing just a flash of silver space boot.
There was initially radio silence from big luxury brands regarding Ukraine, even amid vociferous calls from Ukrainian fashion designers, buyers and Tsum Kyiv department store to stop trading with Russia.
Now Balenciaga and Gucci, both owned by French luxury giant Kering, have responded by speaking out with statements of solidarity with the plight of the Ukrainians. Balenciaga said it had given an unnamed sum to the United Nations via the World Food Program ahead of its Sunday show. It said it “would open our platforms in the next few days to report and relay the information around the situation in Ukraine.”
Gucci meanwhile said it gave $500,000 to the UN Refugee Agency for Ukraine with the brand’s parent company going to Instagram to reveal that it had donated undisclosed sums of money to the UNHCR. Kering added: “We hope for a peaceful resolution of this conflict.”
Burberry has also donated to the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal, and OTB Group, which owns Maison Margiela, has recently said it’s donated to the UNHCR.
BLACK IS BACK
There seems to be a return to the most slimming of colors for fall-winter — but it is actually a color?
One thing is certain: Black is back on the Paris runway.
Rihanna first set the tone Tuesday as she made her way to the Dior front row in a see through black babydoll gown — only to watch as designer Maria Grazia Chiuri responded with her collection that also relied heavily on black.
Then came Saint Laurent’s sleek black dresses, Isabel Marant’s black stripper boots, Balmain’s protective black warrior looks and Friday’s Loewe show’s kinky LBD.
Black is turning out to be one of the key trends to watch this season.
ISSEY MIYAKE'S SEED
The Japanese house famed for its use of techno-fabrics went to the vegetable patch for inspiration this fall with a series of gowns evoking germinating seeds.
It was hit and miss — let's call it patchy.
The best of the looks channeled the moment in which a seed twists and winds as it springs to life. Literally. Issey Miyake used spring technology with a fine rib knit.
A shoulderless loose ribbed bustier whirled down into a black full skirt that cut a fine silhouette, capped by soft black boot-pumps. The stylish ribbing repeated itself effectively on a torso and arm on another monochrome black look.
But there were times when the plant theme was delivered too heavy handedly. A thrice-spliced look evoking a pea pod — dyed using a traditional artisanal Kyoto-based tie-dying technique known as shiborizome — would have perhaps benefited from not being created in plant green.