Cathy Horyn Paris Fashion Review: Balenciaga and Valentino

Photo-Illustration: The Cut. Photo: Courtesy of Balenciaga; beautiful pictures

Some of the best shows this season are about dealing with the modern world. Rei Kawakubo presented her collection to Comme des Garçons – her first in Paris since February 2020 – as a “lament” to its sorrows. In a large hall located in industrial areas near Charles de Gaulle airport, Balenciaga’s Demna is once again set in the news – images of people fighting against the elements. Last season, it was snowy and windy; on sunday, it is mud.

The series is the work of Spanish artist Santiago Sierra, who created a similar installation called “House in the Mud” in Germany in 2015. That piece is intended to attack the art establishment. and Sierra invited visitors to put on their boots and leave their mark in the mud. This is not idea in Balenciaga – or even recommended. The runway, as it were, was a dark path and puddle around the rectangular rim of a giant peat crater. If you slip down the bank, it’ll take you a while to crawl back up and never mind what it will do to your beautiful designer clothes.

Photo: Balenciaga

Still, it’s not overwhelming to think about people’s homes filled with mud or swept away completely by torrential rain, the misery of homelessness, and a child carrying a stuffed animal. filthy or a crumpled bag of chips – Demna transformed both into luxury handbags at the show – or the line of models wearing filthy hoodies and ripped jeans like a conscript line youth.

Finally, Demna’s choices are sometimes morally questionable. In March, it’s hard to watch models grappling in the snow with wind machines, because you know it reflects real suffering somewhere. But one of the roles of the designer is to question things. (That’s what both Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto did in the late ’70s and ’80s when they tore down the tradition of tailoring and the beauty of Western clothing.)

Photo: Balenciaga

Demna – 41 years old, half the age of Kawakubo – has her own feelings and squabbles, which have become much clearer (indeed with more content) over the past two or three years. In his show notes on Sunday, he wrote, “Fashion loves boxes and labels more than anything. Luxury, not luxury, street, couture, good, bad, buzz, viral, it’s all the same, who cares. ” He added, “Putting luxury fashion into a sleek, exclusive and visually expensive box is limited-school and rather old-fashioned.” Backstage, he said, “It’s blasphemous to put a 1,000-euro shoe in a puddle of mud.” Or, for that matter, leather clothing and evening dresses.

But, of course, Demna is dealing with bigger changes in the world – changes related to youth culture, social media, inequality and shifting values ​​and almost none. understandable. That’s what I appreciate most about his work at Balenciaga. Not only did he expand the reach of the brand while preserving its haute couture heritage, he also extended the framework of haute couture in ways few other designers have. He’s created unique and thoughtful shows around politics and our insatiable obsession with celebrity – like last year’s dazzling “red carpet show” and The Simpsons movie – which if nothing else, proves that Demna has a funny movie. I hope he doesn’t lose it.

Comme des Garcons.
Photo: Victor Virgile / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

In his latest show, the male model holds a newborn baby in a crib. The kids aren’t real, although they certainly look like the real thing. “I have to say they’re pretty creepy,” Demna said with a laugh. But what to be really images of men wearing piercings and crazy, loose suits – miniature jackets and ragged jeans with extra-wide belts. In other words, not your standard urban dad. Demna recently said that restarting haute couture at Balenciaga “liberated” him, because it involved timeless engineering, rigor and slower pace. I ask him what gives him more satisfaction – haute couture or a big photo show with snow and mud. He replied, “It’s hard to say.” But the problem is that he has both expressions.

Rei Kawakubo backstage.
Photo: Cathy Horyn

Considering that Kawakubo was once responsible for truly insane clothes and her deconstruction technique has influenced a generation of designers, it’s no surprise that the greatest designer alive prefer to create sculptural forms rather than actual garments. All of the pioneering methods she introduced were absorbed and often rendered trivial by mass culture. So she creates an object that looks like a fancy cup, a tulip, or an upside down dress. Many of the 18 pieces in her show the previous day seemed to allude to the historic feminine dress – like an oversized bonnet, table top pannier skirt, or indeed spigots. for women in the form of large fabric donut hoops gathered together. For Kawakubo, the joy is seeing that the work of a designer in the late stages of his career still exists. (By the way, most shapes and fabrics, such as black felt lace and brocade, have been transformed by her studio into wearable looks.)

While Kawakubo was greeting guests backstage, wearing a black jacket, bright white sneakers, and holding a handbag with the words “Live Free” written on it, I saw Marni’s designer, Francesco Risso, in the background. before. He said, ecstatically, “You know, I love that so proudly. I keep thinking, This is really against the body, and, yes, damn it. This is really free. And respect for it and workmanship. “I’m just full of energy right now.” He grinned.

Junya Watanabe.
Photo: Victor VIRGILE / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Junya Watanabe gave an excellent performance. He was a huge fan of rock and punk music, but when he returned to Paris after being imprisoned in Japan, he introduced a jacket and poncho combo in light, broad-shouldered men’s wool of the decade. 80 and usually the belt. There are white cotton pleated versions available – including one that comes with jeans with reverse tartan cuffs. Wearing leggings and rhinestone-encrusted pony shoes with ao dai, alike, the models dashed up the runway from the midpoint of the room, then in opposite directions. It’s a great way to create a new look.

Yamamoto himself is a perfectionist, an elegant expression of predominantly lightweight black dresses and suits with feminine details such as an open neckline, a splash of white fabric on the top. black background, and the bodices of some styles end up looking like loose corsets.

Photo: Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

Pierpaolo Piccioli calls his collection Unboxing Valentino. He also doesn’t like putting fashion and people in Valentino’s clothes in one box. However, in his case, it seems to be a strange construct. A large number of guests at Sunday’s show wore hot pink outfits from his fall 2022 ready-to-wear collection – in fact, many looked like part of the show. The rest of us happened to be attending a meeting of the Paris Mary Kay Cosmetics chapter. Suffice it to say that the new collection doesn’t include that pink. The best styles are simple evening dresses and mini cotton shirt dresses that are built on top of a jumpsuit for a minimalistic fit. There was a pretty red cotton long dress. But the whole show would have worked better if Piccioli had worn lower heels. Some women had their shoes removed or welded to visible wounds.

Attendees dressed in pink at Valentino.
Photo: Cathy Horyn

Photo: Victor Virgile / WireImage

Matthew Williams had his own problems at Givenchy. He’s transitioned from overly complicated, fussy-looking clothes to a Sunday afternoon collection of water-soaked pieces – pleated jersey skirts, business jackets over shirts ruffled white lashes, bra and hoodie with faded denim shorts – without any brand identity. Givenchy could be more than it was under his creative direction. Cathy Horyn Paris Fashion Review: Balenciaga and Valentino

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