It takes a lot of chutzpah to take over the swimming pool at the Ritz, where the late Gianni Versace once showed his haute couture collections, implying as it does - even tacitly - that a designer is in a similar league of talent and showmanship. It also take a lot of connections to fill that audience with industry heavyweights on the first day of Paris Fashion Week, and for a designer's first on-schedule show. Hakaan Yildirim evidently has the balls and made the calls to pull both of those off this evening, but the eternal question remains: were the clothes up to it?
When you open your show with MariaCarla Boscono, Natalia Vodianova and Karolina Kurkova, does it really matter? Isn't that the tactic Gianni used when elevating the Supermodels to international stardom, distracting attention from what was, for many, a rather lacklustre post-recession moment in the history of fashion?
Sound familiar? Well familiar was the word for this collection - not only for the tactics used to direct attention away from the clothes but, ultimately, for the clothes themselves. There was many a reference looming over these outfits, the influence of designers past (sometimes) and very-present (more often) dangling like the sword of Damocles over the models' heads. The opening black leather coats and dresses, shiny like strips of duct-tape wrapped around the body, bore the undeniable imprimatur of Rick Owens, albeit meatier and heavier than he would ever allow. Sliced tailoring and Grecian-style knitted dresses with knife-pleated kilt skirts had been done far better and far, far many more times by Azzedine Alaia, while the carved-out, chevron-textured gowns at the end echoed not only Versace's red carpet glamour, but a dulled-down derivative of Gucci.
There wasn't much that felt new here, executed in a limited (euphemism for boring) palette of black, red and white. That in itself is no crime. But before making a grand gesture for the world's press, Hakaan needs to sit down, ditch the references and figure out what his label really stands for. Parading second-hand ideas so triumphantly across the Ritz's pool-room on a bevy of first-rate bodies feels not only audacious, but slightly obscene.