paris, mon amour
On the first day of shows in Paris, Anthony Vaccarello and Koché paid tribute to the multifaceted Paris they know and love—a city still healing after the terror attacks of 2015.
One good thing about the much-debated speed of the fashion cycle is the immediacy with which designers are able to reflect on what's just happened in the world around them. Nothing could echo this better than our arrival from Milan to Paris on Tuesday and the shows put on by the Parisian designers for the opening night of the first women's collections in the French capital following the terror attacks in November. Paris has always been brilliantly self-referential, self-indulgent, and self-celebratory, but in the wake of the horrible events of 2015, the city's patriotism and local spirit have taken on new importance. For that reason it's interesting that the terror attacks happened in a time when Paris was already experiencing a new flow of creativity on all levels. The anti-bourgeois art scenes centred around the 10th and 11th arrondissements partly paved the way for the rise of Vetements and the people around them, a phenomenon now so strong that they've conquered the Left Bank at Balenciaga HQ. It's a return to the socialist values of a multicultural Paris, but at the same time a celebration of French chicness and pizzazz.
Anthony Vaccarello grew up in Belgium in the 80s watching televised fashion shows and reading glossies, and wouldn't become a Parisian until much later in life. The Paris he knows and loves is a Left Bank postcard, but his sexy irreverence comes from the contrasting Parisian spirit. His show on Tuesday was a celebration of this idea of Paris: the epicentre for all the glamour little boys dream about growing up (we all do, right?) and a tribute to a city whose wounds are still healing. "Everything depresses me a lot these days in Paris, and I really want my souvenir of Paris back from when I was in Belgium in the early 80s. All those diamonds, all that happiness. I wanted to bring that vibe back, but without being too tied or restrained," Vaccarello said backstage. It was expressed in even skimpier cuts than his usual deshabillé. One girl blushed when her top slipped down as she walked the runway, revealing her nipple Gigi Hadid style, and quickly pulled it back up, but with all the lightness and transparency going on it made little difference.
Such was the nature of Vaccarello's show - his best to date - which explored new territory for the designer in a sense of the ornate, from embroidery to the more jazz-handsy embellishment of rhinestones, like a sparkly Michael Jackson armband or the sequined dress that closed the show. "I really wanted freedom. Freedom on the top and legs and beauty and that's it," was Vaccarello's sweeping statement—one that will doubtlessly resonate through the shows in Paris this week. With Suzy Menkes breaking the code of silence on her Instagram last night - "Anthony Vaccarello is up for YSL if Hedi leaves," she wrote - whispers are now louder than ever that changes at Saint Laurent are imminent. Should Vaccarello be the new designer for the most Parisian house in Paris, his work over the past few years has certainly proved he has the French understanding and fandom to take on the task. As far as the glamour of Parisian fashion in the 80s goes, Vaccarello would be in heaven in the hallowed halls of the House of Love.
With our Fashion Director Alastair McKimm on styling duty at Anthony Vaccarello, i-D had to have a hand in the other key show to kick off Paris Fashion Week. Our Senior Fashion Editor Julia Sarr-Jamois styled the Koché show, which couldn't have illustrated the diversity of Paris better. Presented to a standing audience in the Passage du Prado, a kind of rough arcade of hair and nail bars and the sort in the city's ever-so hip 10th arrondissement, designer Christine Kocher fused the street style of the urban Paris you don't see in postcards - local to that area, amongst others - with the savoir-faire craftsmanship of the Left Bank. She lives and breathes the surroundings of her show, but moonlights for the feather expert Maison Lemarié, which should give you an idea of the Parisian contrasts that make up her aesthetics. With a throbbing urban soundtrack and a mixed cast of top models and tough-girl civilians, Kocher's homage to the multifaceted Paris she loves came through loud and clear, and the current Vetements-fuelled trend for merging high and low was given even more life.
Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography Mitchell Sams