Paris Fashion Week Roundup
By Rocio Sanchez
For Spring/Summer 2019 Paris Fashion Week, there was a lot to prove. Mega-brands Alexander McQueen, Gucci, and Saint Laurent all competed to see who would be the most profitable. Off-White’s Virgil Abloh showcased another Nike collaboration. And there was Hedi Slimane’s debut at Celine after Phoebe Philo stepped down from the Creative Directorship.
With some of the largest fashion conglomerates’ subsidiaries presenting at Paris Fashion Week, the aesthetic offerings from these collections posed the question: will these collection’s messages translate into the sales numbers that corporations are mainly eyeing? But also, will brands such as Jacquemus, add to the cultural discourse of Paris Fashion Week — and if so, how?
Overall trends included:
- Logomania (Chanel and Off-White)
- Power of women (McQueen)
- Strong and soft (McQueen)
- Holiday Fever (Jacquemus and Altuzarra)
- Sleeviness (Balmain, Gucci, LV)
- Pastel vs print
Jacquemus – Dreamy Holiday
Simon Porte Jacquemus’ childhood in the South of France inspired the SS19 collection, which had an unsurprising Mediterranean vibe. The collection was hosted at Paris’ Italian embassy. “A fantasy of the Italian Riviera, like something I imagined a long time ago,”1 Jacquemus himself once professed. The location solidified the notion that Italy and France are the capitals of fashion luxury, directly referencing French and Italian national identity.
For Jacquemus, the theme of “the bigger, the better” remained strong. Reminiscent of the large straw hats that the brand is known for, the SS19 collection made splashes with its enormous bags and a palpable holiday-themed lookbook. These bags made such an impression that even Jimmy Fallon featured them on his opening monologue on the Tonight Show. “The most fashionable way to spend three hours searching for your keys,”2 he said. Fallon being one of the many brands that covered Paris Fashion Week, it proves the industry’s worldwide reach.
Besides the large totes, earth tones with the occasional pop of neon and dreamy silhouettes dominated this collection. The accessories — ornate hoop earrings dangling off models’ ears and strappy heels, gave the impression of a woman going to the beach after walking out of the Ritz-Carlton.
Off-White – Metaphor of Strength
After designing Serena Williams’ outfit for the US Opening and partnering with Nike, Virgil Abloh kept to his sportswear theme this season at Paris Fashion Week. From the biker shorts to breathable fabrics, with athletes-as-models wearing conspicuous Nike logos, Ablon’s designs had emanated an aura of power.
Each set of looks seemed to bleed into the next. The first dozen looks were exclusively white, but then a large skirt, reminiscent of the skirt worn by Serena William in the Nike and Virgil Abloh collaboration, made an appearance. The neon amongst the white made it hard to miss. There was femininity in the skirts, and power in their freedom. Abloh said he used “sportswear as a metaphor”3 for the power of women.
Then, white bled into neon yellow which bled into nude and black. Prints made their appearance in the midst of the solid colors, snake prints in neon green making a huge statement towards the end of the show.
There is little doubt that this collection will be a success among certain demographics, as Nike is owning its support of black athletes after endorsing Serena Williams, and also making Colin Kaepernick the new face of its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.
McQueen – Questioning Contradictions
Sarah Burton showed power and femininity in her own way this season. With leather armor over lace garments, soft colors under opaque jet black pieces, the message was clear: soft and hard are not mutually exclusive, in fact, together they created a new beauty, one that is not weak by any means. For inspiration, Burton evoked the “journey of women and the journey of a woman.”4
The question remains: will this season’s look translate well, as Kering is looking at McQueen to become its next rising star behind Balenciaga?5
Will Burton deliver and move towards the reliability and lucrative levels of Gucci or Saint Laurent, which always appeared to have some buzz surrounding them. With McQueen being known for its artistry, not as much for its wearability, is that going to change now?
We will see once the collection hits the stores.
Chanel – Logomania
Like Off-White, logomania dominated the Chanel runway. Models walked in the sand, barefoot, with breathable fabrics. For the most part, white, black, tan, and the occasional pastel fabrics clad the models as they strutted down the runway. The accessories were as much a part of the collection as the garments: many of the models held their Chanel shoes in their hands, displaying a lax freedom. Giant large logo pieces of jewelry were also showcased, “CHA” on one ear, while “NEL” on the other.
Chanel is also establishing long-term relationships with one of its models too; Kaia Gerber. Not only did she walk the SS19 show, but Karl Lagerfeld also confirmed their collaboration for a capsule collection a few weeks after Paris Fashion Week wrapped.
Celebrity models and designer collaborations are nothing new, but Chanel is eager to expand this relationship so consumers can participate in the “Kaia Gerber dream.”
Paris is one of the world’s fashion capitals, so luxury, talent, and artistry are highly expected when Paris Fashion Week rolls around. Key players like Virgil Abloh are changing the game, warping logomania to represent the power of women, while old-stagers like Chanel, Yamamoto, and McQueen continued their legacies in trendsetting. It’s only a matter of time before we see these silhouettes hit the stores and see if the money follows the aesthetic.
2 The Tonight Show. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o85KTKPFm2Y
4 From Alexander McQueen SS19 Press Kit, “Inspiration.”
Rocio Sanchez graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in advertising and marketing communications and a minor in French. She is now a graduate student at Parsons Paris, expected to graduate in 2020. Before Parsons, Rocio worked as a digital analyst and marketer at a variety of companies including fashion brands and startups. Particularly interested in fashion writing and fashion museology, Rocio now takes full advantage at the world available to her in Paris.
As program assistant for the Fashion Studies program, Rocio sees firsthand the inner machinations of the program at Parsons Paris. The curriculum is vigorous and uses Paris as a backdrop for all its activities––perfectly apt for fashion studies. As part of a class project, Rocio shadowed photographers of InDigital, a small company specializing in runway photography and video production for fashion conferences, which allowed her to attend the McQueen SS19 show. That’s just a taste of what Parsons Paris has to offer.