paris' pure sex appeal
Paris gave it up for purity as Alexander Wang took his last bow at Balenciaga, Dior stripped it down to the bloomers, and Loewe wrapped it all up in cling film.
With their Margiela-derived devotion to anything optic white, Kanye West and Virgil Abloh aren't living in vain. They've spread the trend for all-white spaces, outfits, collections, and bridal flower arrangements (not least) around the pop cultural sphere, turning that fashion-y fascination with beautiful, impractical purity into a global obsession. At Abloh's Off-White show in Paris on Wednesday, everything from the walls to the benches was optical white, as was most of his collection. At Maison Margiela, the all-white space and PRs in white smocks are custom. But at Wednesday's show, it all seemed next-level white. And at Dior, in the courtyard of the Carré du Louvre on Friday afternoon, a gigantic dome covered in lilac delphiniums on the outside was pure white on the inside. Call it clinical, but fashion's obsession with white seems to be rooted in a deeper sense of purity, which was how Raf Simons characterized his Dior collection of delicate Victorian underwear fused with a certain stringent masculinity in tailoring.
It was his chaste Parisian take on the prairie trend proposed in London most brilliantly by Erdem, and one that captured the season's sinful romance with that sexy innocence of Victorian times—the tension between God-fearing, good-girl garments that cover you up, and the suppressed sexuality that always comes with religious dressing. Here in Paris, of course, no one's trying hard to suppress their innermost desires. At Dior, Simons' purity was so white and ethereal you could see through it, right down to the flouncy Victorian underwear that epitomized the collection. It echoed Dries Van Noten's fuchsia bras worn over tops this Wednesday - although they definitely screamed sexy time rather than altar time - and Alexander Wang's farewell parade of lingerie, which would hit us at Balenciaga in the evening of the Friday shows in Paris. For his swan song for the house, the designer said he wanted to turn things around.
"I wanted to play with romance and sensuality, and play with the things people don't really expect from me, and try something different. Balenciaga is such a house of innovation and being at the forefront, but I said, well, let's try and look at the opposing idea and very simple and humble cloths, like linens and cottons and satins and silks, and try to give them this couture hand. I'm gonna go completely ruffled and laced and feathered! We wanted a purity." The show venue looked like a Roman bath house, a long whitewashed tub filled with water at the centre of the runway, but if the California-centric soundtrack was anything to go by, it was more like a spa in Ojai—much closer to Wang's hometown of San Francisco. It was basically a lingerie collection, and kept primarily in off-white, the season's fondness for both those things seemed to have found its spokes-show, nice but naughty. "It's been an incredible three years. I'm very grateful for the opportunity," a jolly Wang said backstage. "I'm ready for the next chapter, and I'm really excited."
At Loewe, it was almost as if the last two days of Paris and all of the above were summed up for us fashion journalists in a handy all-in-one collection that had that icy and iced quality previously seen at Maison Margiela. Plastic and metallic elements layered the garments - a number of them white and silver - while those same clear plastic pieces, such as a pair of trousers that matched the cling film wrapped around some of the seats in the UNESCO venue, served as a see-through window to the underwear. With all-over logo prints and broken-mirror appliqué (at one point even in the same look) purity probably wasn't on Jonathan Anderson's mind at Loewe, but that sleek, high-shine, clean-freak vibe we're getting from Paris for spring/summer 16 was present all the way.
Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography Jason Lloyd Evans