Oct 5, 2023
During Paris Fashion Week, there was ample room for runway displays of radically different styles: from Andreas Kronthaler’s homage to the iconic British designer Vivienne Westwood, to the 10th-anniversary celebration of Barcelona’s Paloma Wool, and further on to the sophisticated minimalism of South Korean brand Rokh.
Andreas Kronthaler’s tribute to Vivienne Westwood
It could be said that the spirit of Vivienne Westwood remains as vibrant as ever. Beyond the immense cultural impact of the late British designer, her community of devoted admirers continues to keep the flame of her rebellious and revolutionary designs burning. Much of this responsibility falls on the shoulders of Andreas Kronthaler, the Austrian designer and widower of Vivienne Westwood, who now helms the creative direction of the British brand.
“This is not a retrospective. I have organized and cataloged Vivienne’s personal wardrobe, pieces we created together. I have revisited and reworked them. Where I felt it necessary, I made changes, added, or removed elements,” explained the creative director regarding the latest collection, which was presented in the opulent salons of Place Vendôme.
Notable celebrities, including Coco Rocha, Barbara Palvin, Pamela Anderson, and Christina Hendricks, were among the attentive onlookers.
Kronthaler continued to express his admiration for the committed designer who catapulted punk aesthetics into the mainstream: “I adored how she dressed, always the opposite of everyone else. Her thoughts were always in a different place, somewhere intriguing. That’s what made her so captivating. She had a unique relationship with time, traveling within her own mind. I owe her so much.”
Thus, the label’s Spring/Summer 2024 collection functioned as a modern homage, brimming with optimism and celebration. Presented to the seductive notes of jazz, the collection featured a total of 39 iconic looks. Among them, a couple of “backgammon” ensembles in black and white, drawn from the ‘Le Flou Taille’ collection of Fall/Winter 2003-04, and a white silk ‘Infanta’ dress with references to the Spring/Summer 2012 collection, which was worn by Russian model Irina Shayk at the close of the show.
Embracing its characteristic “mix-and-match” style, the collection revealed in fabric contrasts, creating dialogues between silk, linen, raffia, or jacquard. Superimpositions took on their most elegant form, featuring tailored suits, midi skirts, and daring shorts, as well as punk-inspired silhouettes with capri pants, asymmetrical brocade tops, short capes, and corset dresses in Hellenic and bucolic styles.
Paloma Wool’s tenth anniversary
The Barcelona-based brand is coming of age. Founded by Paloma Lanna a decade ago, the avant-garde label, specializing in knitwear, has been transitioning into a new phase of maturity. This phase is marked by international business consolidation, full recognition of its identity, and the motherhood of its founder, who has skillfully adapted her designs to various ages and body types.
Remaining faithful to her long-term collaboration with Spanish artist Carlota Guerrero, the brand opted for a hybrid presentation, straddling traditional runway, performance, and video art. Held at 35-37 rue des Francs Bourgeois in Le Marais, the creative presentation reflected on evolution, age, and the passage of time. This reflection was encapsulated in a video of a fixed facial close-up, projected at one end of the catwalk, and in photographs of women’s faces that models tossed to the ground at the end of the show.
The collection aimed to shine a spotlight on the garments that have defined the brand’s DNA over the past decade. These pieces were reimagined with a more mature perspective, employing innovative materials and textures. Paloma Wool’s essential knitwear took the form of asymmetrical sweaters, minuscule tops, and semi-transparent shorts. These pieces created sophisticated layers alongside light silk items such as minimalist tops, wide-legged trousers, or halter-neck dresses. Jewelry played a starring role, with silver tops fashioned from long necklaces, decorative details, or apparent thongs paired with skirts.
Dresses were minimalist, wrapping around the female form, although there were also bolder choices, resulting in balloon silhouettes or back closures inspired by corsetry. Lanna succeeded in presenting a sophisticated and elegant collection without faltering. This success rested primarily on a subdued color palette featuring earthy tones, white, beige, silver-gray, and gold. Denim made its appearance through relaxed jeans, and message-bearing t-shirts encouraged celebration of the brand’s anniversary.
The show, boasting a substantial Spanish representation, counted on the presence of pop sensation Bad Gyal, Argentine model Mica Argañaraz, and photographer Rocío Aguirre.
Rokh’s understated precision
In an intimate setting created within one of the halls of the Théâtre National de Chaillot, at the foot of Place du Trocadéro, the London-based South Korean brand fully embraced its usual perfectionist minimalism. With a collection characterized by timelessness, designer and brand founder Rok Hwang endeavored to address the needs of a contemporary wardrobe with extremely precise cuts and constructions.
Inspired by the world around him, the creative designer delved into classic-style garments, aiming to reimagine them through a modernized lens. Proportions played with contrasts, achieved by deconstructing fabrics typical of workwear, along with wool, cotton, silk, or chiffon. The brand selectively introduced vinyl or silicone proposals in coats, or fine leather in jackets, trousers, and roomy, malleable handbags, frequently carried by hand.
A color palette ranged from magenta to beige, or dusty pink, passing through various shades of blue, white, and black. The mixed-gender runway confidently featured military jackets, long button-back trench coats, elegantly wide-legged trousers, reimagined tailored jackets with crop fits, layered suits constructed through superimpositions, and XXL-length sleeves. The collection also featured skirts with original peplum-like applications and elaborately embroidered long dresses.
In this avant-garde brand’s list of inspirations, one could discern elements of Ivy League aesthetics, Oxford style, and nods to the 1990s. Despite these multiple influences, the designs flowed naturally and precisely, resulting in refined luxury with silent allure.
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