PFW 2016/17: Paris Fashion Week or Punks of Fashion Week?

By:Non Kuramoto

Twice a year when Paris Fashion Week rolls around, I am hit by a strange feeling of surprise—Although I feel as though I should not be, I am regularly taken aback by the number of designers that infuse our world with new blood each season. It was incredibly difficult to choose my favorites. How can I forgo touching on Chanel or Vivienne Westwood—both designed by people who shaped the fashion world today, and continue to be hipper than any of us. Still, shows from fashion houses such as Loewe with J. W. Anderson have paved a path for fellow young designers. Paris Fashion Week offered me just too many options. 

To make things a little easier, I chose to focus on punk influence in the current fashion world. I'm not just thinking punk rock style—as Vivienne Westwood would be at the top of that list—but the designers who have used this season to put up their dukes up to fashion and made us question even, what is fashion? 

Comme Des Garçons

Rei Kawakubo is no newcomer to destroying the fashion status-quo. “Imagining punks in the 18th century, which was a time of so many revolutions,” Kawakubo hits us with extreme decadence featuring wildly blooming flowers that seems to say, fashion has hit its current high, and must wilt in order to re-bloom. Her pieces are obviously not wearable—I mean, if you think they are, then more power to you—and are statements more than anything. Needless to say, they’re all sculpturally impressive pieces. The 18th century influences are apparent in the rococo style floral print, corsetry and armor-like details. The huge frills and exaggerated shoulders seem almost satirical of what “high-artistic-fashion” has become. The models, marching down the runway to “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” are simultaneously the clowns and warriors of fashion as a form of art. Kawakubo does not give us any answers, but a  pretty optimistic seeming nudge towards fashion's time to reconfigure itself.  

Vetements

Vetements, a collective led by Demna Gvasalia, has been shooting up the fashion ladder as the new cool kid on the block. The brand’s ability to create high fashion out of street style has provoked so many designers, from old to new, to follow suit. This season, he set out to the push the envelope further. For starters, the show was cast on Instagram—which is not unheard of, but rare to see it done all the way through. Obscenities printed on tops seemed ironic given the setting—a church. Their garments were an edgy riff on school uniforms, with plaid, button ups, trousers and jackets coming in a variety of materials and silhouettes—a likely ode to the young people affected in the Paris attacks this past fall. Unlike Comme Des Garçons, Vetements keeps their clothes wearable for the most part. As Kawakubo stirs up the conversation through an artful PSA, Vetements—ambassadors of the social media age—is shifting the attitude from within.   

Saint Laurent

It is no secret that I am obsessed with Hedi Slimane. He and Alessandro Michele, are two designers that make my heart sing time and time again. (The rumor about his departure from Saint Laurent seemed to ruin the balance of my life. But for now, he has graced us with new works with no confirmation of the rumor, so I can continue breathing.) My personal preference aside, Slimane never ceases to surprise and set high standards, both technically and creatively, for all designers. The presentation was in a mansion with models walking down the staircase as the look numbers were called out, taking influence from the 80’s. Yes, many designers have been looking to the 80’s recently, but this is Hedi Slimane we’re talking about. He does't let us off the hook so easily, and his version of the 80’s was an impeccably built collection that paid homage to Yves Saint Laurent, yet was fully infused with the punk rock chicness that Slimane does so well. His ability to take a theme that is beginning to seem almost overdone, and then infuse it with something new is refreshing, especially when trends seem to get overspread and overused too quickly. It’s what the dream version of the 80’s we all wished we lived in looks like. The last look’s huge red coat seemed to be Slimane saying “I dare you to get on this level.” 

Some people may claim fashion is dead, but I think these designers can vouch that the only thing that’s on its way to the grave is "fashion as we knew it."

Sources: Vogue Runway