White chairs with flouncy bows and a raging motorway overhead; how does Vetements hosting a wedding in such an industrial space, seem so right? It seems this is a gift that Vetements possess like no other: merging completely disparate elements as if they were meant to be paired. This melting pot of concept, texture, culture and style is why Vetements are still, despite their controversies, one of the hottest tickets in town. It seems to hit that sweet spot between bonkers and banal. Previous collections have seen an overload of print, pattern and material but for S/S 19, Creative Director Demna Gvasalia has taken it back to beginnings. The beginnings of Vetements - with the return of basic layering, hoodies and mom jeans; but more importantly the beginning of Gvasalia and his journey to where we are now.
Gvasalia called upon his Georgian upbringing and the country's tumultuous past for this collection. There were the typical elements of a teen here: hoodies with cartoons, trainers with graffiti, shirts with scrawling on them much like the last day of school. Trainers with imposing spikes and torn jeans felt like a familiar awkward experimental phase, and broad shoulders and exposed waists were a graduation. The over-the-top busy prints and scarves layers of last season were here updated and built into mac and flowing scoop neck dress; adding a commerciality to the collection that has previously felt amiss.
This tour of Gvasalia’s past was personal and sombre. While there was an element of celebration here - note the wedding seating and white tables - there was a dark undertone throughout the collection, much like the heavy underpass. Bullets transformed into heels and necklaces, camo print torn trousers alluded to the Georgian Civil War, and windbreaker jackets emblazoned with the flag of Georgia, Russia and America all looked to the nations responsible for the country's torment. The loud, bass-heavy techno music, gimp masks and heavy leathers were powerfully aggressive. So too was the use of staging - onlookers were sat at the tables as models walked atop - one felt intimidatingly small looking up at such strong and seductive clothes.
With a majority Georgian cast and such explicit referencing, one felt as though the clothes had been bestowed a personality - as if each piece regaled a tale without saying a word. It seemed as though Gvasalia had bypassed the want to sell clothes and was using this show as a vessel for spreading awareness. That is certainly no bad thing. Fortunately, Gvasalia succeeded on both accounts; the message was impactful and encouraging, and the clothes were tenaciously good.