From Louis Vuitton and Rick Owens, to GmbH, Y/Project, and Wales Bonner – these are the shows you won't want to miss
Salut! We’re coming at you live and direct from, well, not Paris, unfortunately. The vast majority of the city’s designers are still contending with social distancing measures – honestly one more season of this and I’m an anti-masker (joking) – but the final pit stop of this menswear’s SS22 outing is set to be a stonker, regardless. Beaming in through the medium of film, lookbook, and livestream are the likes of Louis Vuitton, Rick Owens, GmbH, and Y/Project.
Right now, ateliers up and down the capital are in the throes of a last minute fashion flurry – ribbons of fabric and thread flailing about as designers look on disapprovingly, sucking the ember out of a cigarette in one hand, massaging their temples with another. Oh, wait, that’s the plot of Cruella, sorry – it’s more likely that Paris’ IT teams are just trying to get their brands’ presentations to upload. With that in mind, here’s our rolling round up of everything you need to see from this week’s shows.
Were All Saints, of “Never Ever” fame, big in France? Between a house party of euphoric models and the catharsis of a closing thunderstorm, Lanvin’s SS22 presentation was like the final scene of 2000s coming of age film, soundtracked by the British band’s seminal “Pure Shores”. Much like last season, which was an ode to Gwen Stefani’s “Rich Girl”, Lanvin was huffing on the sweet smell of nostalgia this time around, too. And this was, of course, reflected in the clothes – a 00s hodge-podge of silky butterfly print slips, hawaiian shirts, second-skin bodysuits, and boucle miniskirts.
Dubbed Volta Jazz, Wales Bonner’s SS22 collection is indebted to the West African tradition of studio portraiture, in particular the work of Sanlé Sory during the 70s, whose subjects were often depicted mid-revelry, while Burkinabé music pounded in the background. As such, there is a sense of jubilation to Bonner’s clothing, meaning the designer’s trademark minimalism comes in a little looser – tailored pieces like cargo pants and wide-leg suit trousers have been cut with slightly more generous proportions, while poplin dashikis hang feather-light on the body. Bonner’s usual commitment to craft comes through, too, across leather jackets which have been hand-embroidered and a host of textiles, handwoven by Burkinabé artisans.
In a Juergen Teller-lensed lookbook JW Anderson revealed both its men’s Spring and women’s Resort collection this week. Arriving on editors’ doorsteps in musty school photo-style frames, it was clear that Jonathan Anderson has spent the past few months plundering his past for all those familiar – but not necessarily glam – elements of a regular, British, suburban upbringing. There were garish windbreakers, fuzzy, swamping knits, and plenty of oversized hoodies, most of which had been emblazoned with giant strawberries. These pieces, which were inspired by Anderson’s teenage TK Maxx wardrobe, were almost always styled with knee-length socks, sliders, and dodgy gym shorts – looks which spoke to the sexual awkwardness of adolescence and that of our collective re-emergence post-pandemic.
In what will be the fourth and final Venice-era show, Rick Owens took us back to the Italian beachfront where he has been seeing out the pandemic. Though, this time around, it felt different – so much breezier, less “apocalyptic”. Partly because the midday sun was rippling about the surface of the sea and partly because the clothes felt considerably softer. Creamy fabrics were left undyed while layers of mesh, stringy knitwear, and raw-hemmed canvas jackets pooled at the ankle like pagan robes. Even Owens’ stacked boots had been taken down to calf-length this season. It felt slow and ceremonious, wary of all the destructive greed and excess, which a post-pandemic return to fashion could so easily herald.
Despite huddling together in the pouring rain (and some lovely plastic ponchos) the excitement within the audience at Hermès’ in-person return to fashion week could not have been dulled – it would have been many people’s first IRL fashion show in over a year, and accordingly, Véronique Nichanian put forward an unwaveringly optimistic collection. Sunflower knits, technicolour cardigans, and loose-cut technical trousers spoke to a sense of lightness and ease. Although this was Hermès, where luxury reigns supreme, Nicanian’s SS22 collection wasn’t as opulent as it was increasingly charming. The designer provided practical solutions, too – many of the pieces, like a minty green crocodile blouson, zippered jacket, and parka, were reversible.
What does it mean to dress white? Having confronted their own heritage for the past number of seasons, Serhat Isik and Benjamin Huseby first began to unpick the aesthetic tropes of whiteness last season – subtly parodying the upper-classes in all their horsey riding boots and cutesy skiwear. For SS22 the designer duo have taken this even further – reappropriating white culture with a tongue in cheek safari dubbed White Noise. Think white jeans and jodhpurs, WASPy pastel knitwear, and sweaters flung over shoulders like an off duty Polo player. There’s a camp, almost performative quality to all the satire, though, as if it was a drag category – Country Club realness?
Many designers, including Louis Vuitton and Burberry, have plumbed the hedonism of the rave scene for inspiration this season. And, as presented in a David Sims-lensed lookbook, Loewe also looked to “the joy of nightlife and club culture”, putting forward saturated, layered knits, strobic, sequined vests, and vivid mohair sweaters. The label’s square motif has been blasted across trench coats in neon green while its craftwork heritage counters the wild expressionism of the dancefloor in vibrant rope trousers and basket bags, festooned in disco tassels. “It’s something I want to see in a club,” said Jonathan Anderson in the brand’s SS22 video.
Double-fronted jeans, adjustable organza-layered mini dresses, multi-hole halterneck dresses – needless to say, Y/Project pieces are as fiendish to describe, as they are to look on, as they are to wear. And this season is no different – though, that’s just the point. With SS22, Glenn Martens pushes us to experiment with clothing, embracing their convoluted, slightly inhospitable, nature. As such, braided knits tangle at the neck so that the wearer can poke their head through at various points, according to their preference. The show also debuted the label’s collab with Fila, with Martens feeding the label’s archive through his madcap machinery – popper-fronted tracksuits unbutton into flag-like panels while grey joggers unzip at the side to reveal the collaboration’s co-branding.
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Situated in the eerie, volcanic island of Stromboli, Matthew Williams unveiled his SS22 collection in a film directed by Jordan Hemingway. Models stormed across the black sand, seafoam lapping at their metallic clogs and stiletto mules, dressed in slinky, glass-beaded mini dresses, lycra two pieces and industrial outerwear. The designer spoke of negotiating the need for comfort with the desire to dress up – an ongoing back and forth articulated in the label’s mono slide slippers which had evolved into multiple, amphibian sneakers and sandals.
Despite Jil Sander’s reputation for uniform minimalism, the label’s husband and wife design duo, Luke and Lucie Meier, injected a heavy dose of personality this season. Fluffy, hair-like, bandanas were tied at the neck in an assortment of tropical colourways, vests had been embroidered with brash supermarket slogans, while glitzy, dangly grape brooches hung from the kind of sharp, sober trench coats and seamless knitwear that have come to define the brand. It was, as the designers explained, a rejection of all the homogeneity of contemporary style, particularly the hypebeast, championing characterful dressing and individuality.
There was a period of about 6 months during the pandemic where you could not scroll without being confronted by the peachy glow of an Ultrafragola mirror. Though it found a natural home in the insta-interiors and news feeds of 2020, the piece, designed by Ettore Sottsass, originated from the Milano Memphis movement in the 80s – which is exactly where Charaf Tajer had turned his attention for SS22. As a result, thick retro lines ripple across silky tailoring, and vibrant ombré prints descend over crocheted polo tops, while candy-coloured, toy-part accessories speak to the designer’s affiliation with, and longing, for Japan.
This season was all about juxtaposing the countercultural archetypes of the 1970s – disco and the residual free love movement from the decade prior – with conventional, masculine workwear. “I have such respect for traditional menswear, but I always think there’s something about it that needs to be questioned and changed. In this collection, it’s about questioning the power of this clothing, subverting it,” Jonny Johansson said. Therefore, homespun tunics and bell bottoms extend beneath oversized bomber jackets, while the brawn of clomping military boots are softened by powder blue, tie-dye kaftans. True to theme, trousers sit high on the hips, as they are put through snake skin, florals, and patchwork fabrications, oozing outwards as they hit the ankles.
“It’s really about the pure joy of just lying in the sun,” says Julien Dossena of his exuberant SS22 collection at Paco Rabanne, set on the rooftop of a concert hall in Monaco. “The primal feeling of sun on the skin, feet in the sea”. Sure enough, heat glints off chainmail bikinis and scarf-style halter necks, which have been adorned with strobic sequins for maximum sun worshipping. Total, head-to-toe prints emerge like optical illusions from the baking, midday light, while lashings of drapes, tassels, and provocative cuts seem to counter all the bohemian head scarves and pattern-heavy referencing of 70s jetsetters – taking the collection from nostalgic poolsides to newsfeeds tagged from Tulum, Ibiza, “or on an Island somewhere,” as Dossena imagines.