So there has been some news in Paris beyond the fashion shows. France’s President Macron plans to paint the rich red of the Elysée Palace six shades of grey.
Cue vibrant escapism for the Spring/Summer 2019 season, when things will probably get darker and gloomier on the political scene – but not in fashion. The colours are already chosen as sunshine yellow and vibrant orange to let the sun shine in.
Haider Ackermann: Bright colours of love
It’s about a man burning for a woman and the woman burning for the man – it’s an exchange, it’s a love affair!” said Haider Ackermann backstage.
Tailoring, fitted firmly, if not strictly, to the body seemed to be cut to cross genders.
The show started with checked pieces, smart and trim and although the designer went on to introduce the sunshine tones, they were mostly for men’s jackets. Gone were the days when everything the designer did seemed to float across the body or be firmly tracing skin. The entire show was based on structure.
“I did not really change the approach, we loved the exchange of the couples. You love the thing about him and her and how they might intertwine with each other. It’s just a love affair – you borrow the clothes off your lover.”
From male to female, the effects were striking.
Junya Watanabe: Puffed-up denim
The Japanese designer’s Spring/Summer 2019 show revealed three loves: blue denim, white cotton and his favourite punk-bright hair.
Freddie Mercury’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ summed up the style – but the clothes were less chaotic than the soft rock. Dresses were mostly sliced vertically, perhaps with white tulle spilling out of a slit skirt or hiding under paisley patterns.
The geometric segments and cut-away lines were almost clinical, only occasionally torn, suggesting an abstract version of the punk era that the Japanese designer holds so dear. The result? Wearable clothes, including floral lace with occasional flower patterns and concert T-shirts for that mythical future summertime.
Altuzarra: Colour me sunshine
For Joseph Altuzarra’s show, the sun seemed to be perpetually shining, from the golden shades of dresses to the rays pouring through windows in this blue sky European summer.
The colours and patterns, starting with country florals and then moving to more sophisticated and dressy flowers for the evening, had the vibe of a summer love story.
“I started watching a lot of movies about being in love in the summer in Italy,” said the designer. “Call Me By Your Name was obviously one of them, Stealing Beauty was another and Cinema Paradiso. A lot of the collection was about just being in love … when you’re in love you’re really exposing your true self, you are vulnerable and you have a kind of fragility…which is kind of like having a show as well! So a lot of what we did was to take pieces and distort them or cut them open and reveal things on the inside.”
Decoration ranged from embroidery to shimmering paillettes. The designer explained, “We took some of the floral prints from the rest of the collection and made them feel fuzzy like you’re in a daze from being a little bit in love.”
Dangling ropes of seashells – as necklaces, belts and even tied around the ankles of wraparound sandals – completed the vacation romance mood. “This was kind of like the idea of a fisherman’s net,” Altuzarra told me. “Some of them are real shells, some are hand-painted resin replicas. We hand-knotted them to look as if you had pulled the net from the sea.”
Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood
Sitting front row in a giant ring of guests, Vivienne Westwood poured praise on her husband Andreas Kronthaler. He has taken over from her as artistic director and presented a show that had models in various stages of undress whirling round piles of paper being assembled by workers who had his name on the front of their T-shirts.
A model carrying a madcap tray was just one inspiration that the designer had taken following a sale of objects when the Hôtel Ritz Paris was being renovated. Other influences were American artist Paul Thek and Walter Pichler from his native Austria.
The effect on stage was as madcap as could be imagined. But at the core of the show were wearable summer clothes, perhaps not including the shocking pink teeny-weeny underpants seen on a male biker.