three's a trend: hermès, alexander mcqueen and sonia rykiel
On Monday in Paris, houses from Hermès to Alexander McQueen brought the spring/summer 17 collections one step closer to defining that elusive idea of season trends.
Travelling for the shows, we often talk about the bubble in which we find ourselves going from city to city, from show to show, from re-see to re-see, and event to event. Sleep is sparse, me time even sparser, and if you don't remind yourself to stay connected to the real world, you can easily lose touch. It's an emotional rollercoaster both inside and outside the show world. One minute, mid-Sacai show Monday morning, you're hearing about how Kim Kardashian was robbed Sunday night in an apartment in the centre of Paris—the next, you're watching clips from Saturday Night Live's season premiere piss-take of the Trump/Clinton debate. Then, you're feeling chic at Hermès minutes before being offered shots at Delfina Delettrez' high-tech presentation featuring holes in the wall dripping with vodka. Next stop and you're faced with a totally different mindset at the memorial show for Sonia Rykiel, who died in August. There are confetti canons. On to Alexander McQueen where pre-show banter topics include believing in angels, go-to psychics in Milan, and costume jewellery shopping destinations in Paris, before Sarah Burton's show transports you to the Shetland Islands - at least mentally - and you suddenly find yourself at an Emporio Armani show wondering if you're actually in Paris or Milan.
How do you make sense of it all? Well, on Monday in Paris - which played out something like the above - you start recognising things you've seen throughout the season. Those lean, almost sporty dresses at Hermès that kick out in an Edwardian flounce below the knee, weren't there versions of them in New York as well (Victoria Beckham), and in London (J.W.Anderson), in Milan (Gucci), and here in Paris (Loewe, Céline, Valentino et. al.)? They used to say three's a trend—count all the dresses that fit the above characterisation on the spring/summer 17 runways and you've got yourself a mega trend. At Alexander McQueen on Monday evening, Sarah Burton cemented the sleeve-mania we've seen basically everywhere this season: flamboyant Victorian leg-o-mutton sleeves, elegant dropped Edwardian sleeves revealing the shoulder, and all the puffs and twists and power you can imagine. Listing the designers who have done it would rob a writer of his word count, so trust this: it's the season of the sleeve. Burton, who is back from maternity leave, was inspired by a recent trip to the Shetland Islands, and her Victorian surf and turf theme seemed to finally establish a rogue reference that's been lurking on the season since London: shipwrecked—as in clothes that look like they went down with a ship (in the most beautiful way possible, of course).
We saw it in London where Erdem had become obsessed with last year's shipwreck discovery of a gown that belonged to Jean Ker, Countess of Roxburghe, who accompanied the daughter of Charles I to the Netherlands in 1642 to join her new husband, William II, the Prince of Orange, on a fleet of twelve ships, part of which sank. Then, this Friday in Paris where Jonathan Anderson presented patchwork dresses, sail-like gowns and master-and-commander tunics at Loewe on the backdrop of a video of two men dragging a bunch of capsized barrels into land, only to see them captured by the waves and having to swim out and do it all over again—several times over. Talk about a Sisyphean task—exhausting! At McQueen, Burton embellished dresses in what looked like the underwater moss that grows on shipwrecks, and covered the train of an evening dress in frothy tulle resembling the foam of waves. Granted, the shipwrecked trend is an unlikely one, but here in the fashion week bubble it somehow makes sense. And what can you do when you're presented with more daily impressions over four weeks of shows than you'd otherwise get in a year?
At the Sonia Rykiel show on Monday afternoon, which started with an epic line-up of girls wearing knits that spelled out "Rykiel Forever" paying tribute to the late designer legend, you had remind yourself how poignant that isolated moment in time was—how much it meant to that house, to Rykiel's friends and fans, and to the all the people, who helped stage that show. As the season draws to a close here in Paris, with only two days of shows left, we look back at a month of those 12-minute moments in time, some of which were good and a lot of which were disappointing, and remind ourselves how much work goes into each and every one of them, even if it disappoints. When we get back to the real world, it'll be the shock of reality: a sensory overload much different to the one we get on a daily basis here at the shows, because it's so real compared to the fantasy that devours you during the collections. When that happens, we'll see if the gigot sleeves and flouncy dresses that filled this travelling circus of fashion fantasy will materialise in the real world.
Text Anders Christian Madsen