Ah, Paris. The historical epicentre of fashion and style, the French capital is the ultimate seal of approval for designers. Creative aspiration begins and ends with Paris, home to the oldest fashion maisons such as Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent, birthplace of haute couture, and the main converging point for the entire industry season upon season. In recent years, designers from London, Milan and New York have flocked to Paris, caught in the balancing act between business, logistics and pure unfounded inspiration, impacting the decline in influence of London and New York in particular with a somewhat dwindling interest in engagement from the media, buyers and creatives. As American brand Vaquera’s very own Patric DiCaprio and Bryn Taubensee expressed at their Paris debut last season: 'A lot of editors don't come to New York. Paris is the place you want to be if you want to be seen and taken seriously — it just seemed like the next step.' Across the next 10 days, the shows in Paris will close off the S/S 23 womenswear season, as editors and influencers alike squeeze onto front rows for a packed schedule of shows which stretch late into the night.
It would be safe to say that this season Paris is possibly reinventing itself, with attention to a new generation of dressmakers, creative directors and artists, slowly pursuing the change of the old guard in the most historical fashion houses. The crescendo of Paris shows will be filled with highly anticipated tributes to late fashion geniuses Issey Miyake, Alber Elbaz, and Virgil Abloh, with new beginnings proposed for the creative powerhouses they left behind. What does the future hold for a brand after their iconic originator is gone? Satoshi Kondo, Lutz Huelle and Ib Kamara will attempt to give us some answers this week. Out-of-town newcomer to the schedule Victoria Beckham will come up against The Row, who made their PFW debut last season, in laying claim to the timeless minimalism of Phoebe Philo's Céline, whilst NYC’s Vaquera hit the ground running for their second season in the capital, bringing a sharp sense of Brooklyn camp onto Parisian landscapes.
American Concept Meets Parisian Commerce at Vaquera:
Patric DiCaprio and Bryn Taubensee’s designs were always defined as Fashion’s Fan Fiction on the New York schedule, bringing grandeur ideas of concept-meets-casual-camp, inspired by the streets of NYC. In a brave move towards making Vaquera a global household name, last season the designers debuted their A/W 22 collection in Paris, with help from Comme Des Garçons’ very own Adrian Joffe, the founder of Dover Street Market alongside his wife, designer and artist Rei Kawakubo. Broadening their silhouettes into incorporating a bigger, softer sense of romance, whilst experimenting with more high-octane fabrics, the brand’s debut showcased a softer punk, this time with Parisian flare and an even bigger oversized silhouette.
Bigger, brighter, and broader is definitely the future of Vaquera, as the duo embark on their second collection with the fashion scene wrapped up in trepidation over their next collection, and whether the Parisian rebel will meet its American counterpart in the middle.
The Important Legacy of Off-White:
Virgil Abloh’s sudden passing in November 2021 shocked the creative world. Serving as an outpouring beacon of creativity, love and kindness, Virgil solidified the notion that creativity comes from the soul and the raw feelings you witness within yourself, whilst also being a trailblazer of community and kicking open doors of change amongst deeply-rooted antiquated French perceptions of fashion at Louis Vuitton by transforming the modern notions of menswear into a desirable, futuristic and beautifully open sense of design. Off-White was Virgil’s original lovechild, having started the brand in 2012 from his studio in Milan, and brought in new ideas of how culture, community and design come together into a lifestyle of passion. The Off-White collective celebrated Abloh last season by showcasing the archetypes of the Off-White universe, also sharing Virgil’s detailed sketches and thoughts behind each archetype of woman in the show’s notes.
For S/S 23, we expect to see the Off-White universe expand as the first under image-maker Ib Kamara’s creative vision in the role of Art and Image Director. Kamara also styled the late designer's shows at Vuitton and was a close collaborator of the creative genius, so who better to take up the mantel?
Victoria in Paris?
A surprising name on the French roster this season is Victoria Beckham, an icon associated with all things British. Having first launched her brand in New York in 2008, gradually growing to critical acclaim for a sleek minimalism with a twist, the brand has lost momentum in recent years. With widely-rumoured mounting debts, Beckham’s Parisian breakthrough could signify a recalibrated strategy to bring wider traction, audience and attention across media and buyers. However, with the strong debut and presence of The Row, Beckham's rival competitor when it comes to wooing Phoebe Philo Céline-era buyers, alongside the iconic Japanese trio of Yohji Yamamoto, Comme Des Garçons and Junya Watanabe, has the time for Beckham to make her mark passed? Only the show will tell.
From Milan to Paris, Benjamin Huseby and Serhat Isik have GmbH covered:
Benjamin Huseby and Serhat Isik have had a magnificent couple of seasons. Turning Italian heritage brand Trussardi on its head earlier this year with the dynamic duo's debut as creative directors, they've brought one of the oldest houses into the spotlight again through their staple sex appeal and vibrant coolness, making clothes that speak to a whole set of new consumers - ones that actively bring rebellion, heritage and powerful sexuality at the forefront of dressing.
In Paris, however, Huseby and Isik nurture their firstborn, the powerfully sexy GmbH, by questioning social structures and the idea of kink, actively subverting menswear in a mix of structured oversized tailoring, with thigh high boots into an unapologetic blend of high-femme chic. This season, GmbH has officially joined the womenswear schedule - an interesting choice which merges the brand and Trussardi within the same timeframe showing just a week apart in Milan and Paris. Seemingly focused on menswear in recent seasons, this move signifies that the duo plan to develop their womenswear tropes, or rather blending both categories into one powerful expression. One thing is for sure, we will be watching closely.
Au Revoir Issey Miyake!
In a wider conversation about fashion legacy, the industry was deeply saddened to discover that the Pleats! revolutionary designer passed away earlier this year at the age of 84. Issey Miyake’s heartfelt study of the joy behind human existence was seen with revolutionary designs that ushered a sense of cult dressing with his knack for fabric manipulation - shapes that take on their own life, move freely amongst the body, whilst providing a playfully joyous energy. Miyake never referred to his work as fashion, it was always clothes. Satoshi Kondo has been steering the brand since 2020, however we expect this show to make a direct tribute to the label's founding father.
Lutz Huelle explores fashion’s A to Z, with AZ factory
Speaking of breakthrough legends on the Parisian scene, Alber Elbaz’s tragic passing in 2021 came only months after he launched AZ Factory, the fashion hub aiming to 'develop solutions to the women of our times'. Paying a tribute to the design genius, fashion’s most renegade designers came together to create a tribute collection celebrating the heritage that inspired so many of our current industry titans. In the following seasons, AZ Factory chose to switch to a guest designer model of curation, with German-born Lutz Huelle next up for S/S 23. Though having opposite aesthetics, the designer shares Elbaz’ joyous outlook on fashion, celebrating the body and bringing forward ideas of modern solutions towards the women that seek glamour, peaking our curiosity further about those two fashion universes will collide.