Occasionally, a fashion week comes around where it feels like a new page in fashion is beginning to turn. There are moments on the runway that feel like societal progression, like an important form of discourse; the exploration of new areas, the definition of new ideas, the proposition of a new path. The collections in such fashion weeks feel like triumphs; they have bold visions and goals, and achieve them with fortitude. This season, Paris Fashion Week is delivering exactly this, giving us brazen and subtle visions of the future of fashion.
As PFW progresses, overarching trends and themes are becoming apparent – albeit presented in very different ways. Sportswear and futurism have had a strong presence this season, making a clear statement that in the world of high fashion, these aesthetics are here to say. Marni AW18 saw the label explore the complicated relationship between human nature and technological innovation, all depicted through high-shine, high-colour statement pieces and the use of textured fabrics that create the “recycled”, vintage feel that the label is known for. Creative Director Francesco Risso aimed to create a show which explored collection and obsessive organisation as a means to express human waste. This was evident especially in the details of the garments – some pieces were raw cut, with threads dangling off wet-look coats, cinched belts, oversized tunics and chunky knitwear. On the whole, Marni AW18 felt like Risso’s sartorial rumination on the intersections between human creativity and technology; the future and the past; the organic and the automated.
Similarly, MSGM AW18 considered sportswear’s newfound home on the runway. Oversized track bottoms, graphic tees, and leather-style long coats were mixed in with delicate silks, knitwear, pleats and slogan scarfs. Inspired by his time living in Milan, Creative Director Massimo Giorgetti gave us a sartorial history lesson on the city through ‘90s minimalist fashion mixed with Italian maximalism, and homages to the city’s most iconic locations and artists. On the other hand, Stella Jean AW18 was inspired specifically by the unlikely friendship between two multiracial athletes at the 1937 Berlin Olympics. The collection – a clear celebration of multiculturalism – saw silhouettes that are cutting, boxy-yet-skin-tight, with wax prints, emblazoned logos, and asymmetrical patterns. This collection had a lot going on design-wise, but it screamed authority, inclusivity and power. Correspondingly, Maison Margiela AW18 was a tour de force. Design-wise, John Galliano created the collection with one thing in mind: dressing in reverse. The pieces — ranging from see-through rain coats and holographic statement pieces to Savile Row-reminiscent tailoring in bright colours — were layered in a way that suggested outerwear is where your outfit should start. Accessorised by shiny swimming caps and an apocalyptic take on page boy caps, the collection exuded an air of innovation that suggested Galliano will set the tone for runway shows to come. The prevailing thesis of the show: dressing in haste is unconsciously glamorous, and we should be celebrating different rituals of fashion more regularly.
Jacquemus, the eponymous womenswear label led by young French designer Simon Porte Jacquemus, was particularly striking this season. Inspired by a trip to Morocco, the collection featured slick tailoring, form-fitting knitwear, sheer t-shirts, kaftan jumpsuits, and oversized woven hats that dip at the back, adding a flair of extravagance to a collection that thrived on its simplicity. The sandy, muted-but-bright colour palettes borrowed from the Moroccan souks were paramount to the success of this collection; the pops of bright red, royal blue and yellow juxtaposed with earthy tones lent the collection a sense of completion. It’s refreshing to see an on-schedule designer not over-design, so to speak; the silhouettes were straightforward, effortless and, above all, incredibly wearable. The second-skin dresses and short, asymmetrical skirts were an ode to unembellished female sensuality, which has always been at the forefront of everything Jacquemus does. In some ways, this show felt like a moment of representation for women across the board – the casting was diverse and inclusive, giving space to people of colour and the vibrant culture that directly influenced his art. Jacquemus has always been one to wear his inspiration on his sleeve, and this show was a clear indication that it works.
It’s apparent one of the major unifying trends of the season is the incorporation of sportswear and futurism into collections that feature traditionally “wintery” textures, colour palettes and silhouettes. But thematically, Paris Fashion Week was all about accountability. Given the current climate of the world – both politically and socially – fashion’s nod to representation, space, mutual respect and allyship is exactly what is needed. The way we’re approaching self-awareness, agency and conversations about our place in the world is changing, and this season was an explicit reflection of that.