From Balenciaga and Ottolinger, to Chanel, Saint Laurent, and Raf Simons, here’s a rolling round-up of everything worth seeing from fashion month’s busiest pit stop
Lockdown was scary and boring but it did provide a moment’s pause from fashion’s hamster wheel. As we repeated the word “phygital” back and forth to each other, many heralded the beginning of a new system, citing the environmental and psychic slam of the seasonal calendar. In order for the industry to thrive, we had to downsize and do less. And though it may be too early to tell if anyone has actually taken heed of those conversations, Milan gave us more, more, and more.
Shows came supersized, staged concurrently across multiple locations, and with shiny collaborative spin-offs. They were bolshy, brilliant, and almost everything ran late as editors and buyers found themselves back in the crush of the fashion week traffic jam. The “new normal” remains a work in process. But if that sounds morose, then SS22 is all about the opposite. This season’s collections have been frivolous, sassy, and a little bit freaky. Next, and last up, is Paris. The bustling home of blockbuster brands like Balenciaga, Valentino, Raf Simons, and Chanel, flanked by emerging designers such as Marine Serre, Ottolinger, Ludovic de Saint Sernin and Botter. Below, we round-up the best in show from the last stop on this season’s voyage.
Christening Paris Fashion Week was Kenneth Ize, who presented a 30-piece collection aptly named New Dawn. It was playful and zingy, made up of technicolour checks, shimmery tassels, and vibration-raising, glitchy stripes. Though Naomi Campbell did not make a cameo this time around, there was a sense of levity, and fun, fizzing from the variegated apron skirts, tunic shirts, and tiger print vests that Ize put on show. Tinsel-like fringes swung from the hips of hot pink skirts, along the bodice of golden columns, and cascaded over giant, metallic beach bags. Yet while Ize’s offering was clearly energetic, it was by no means frenetic. As woozy notes spilled out of CKTRL’s saxophone, calm fell onto the venue, with the model’s walking in a deliberately slowed pace as if they had found peace, or at least content. Styled by Dazed’s IB Kamara, jollity was backed by craft – bright, panelled tailoring had been fashioned from traditional aso oke, handwoven in the factory Ize founded in Ilorin (Nigeria), as had a further 80 per cent of the collection.
This season, Marine Serre debuted her collection at film screening in Le Marais. Dubbed Ostal 24, Serre led viewers to a remote village with creepy, cult-like inhabitants. It’s crafts and rituals appear quaint – like covering cars in giant doilies – though they become increasingly eerie throughout the 13-minutes, eating oily black slop from beneath kitchen towels and bathing at dawn in blood-red liquid. The collection opens with homespun crocheted dresses and square-shaped shirts which look as though they have been fashioned from tablecloth, meanwhile necklaces have, actually, been strung together from teaspoons. All those pastoral rituals soon break into perversion, though, with head-to-toe morph suits (à la Leigh Bowery), tightly-belted, domineering leather coats, and pinch-and-twist, popcorn dresses. The Marine Serre moon seemed to eclipse this season, as she dialled down her use of the ubiquitous crescent, seeking to cement a recognisable language by way of reconstructed panelling and jaunty silhouettes. Most notable, however, is that 45 per cent of the materials Serre used were regenerated, with another 45 per cent also being recycled – the most the designer has ever used.
Titled Global Warming, Botter did little to decorate its message this season. Although Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herreburgh have always used fashion as a way to work through their climate anxieties – even setting up a coral reef farm during the pandemic – this week’s offering was the duo’s most concerted effort to date, having been forged from 60 per cent recycled plastic, collected in partnership with Parley For The Oceans. “This is modern luxury,” the partners wrote in their show notes, sending out a wave of aquatic blue, scuba-inspired tailoring, diving masks, and umbrella hats. It wasn’t easy to work with such rigid, recycled materials, but the Botter team felt it important to make the most of what they had, putting stiff fabrics through rigorous washes and experiments. As a result, rain jackets were fastened into umbrella-like silhouettes, while double-fastened jackets and snug gilets had came indebted to diving suits, made from spongey neoprene. With buoy-like handbags and fish-netted top layers, these marine-indebted accents could read like an easy gimmick, but Botter is pushing for longevity – both on and off the runway. Or should that be on and off dry land?
Maria Grazia Chiuri staged SS22 on a giant, absurdist board game, designed by Italian artist Anna Paparatti, who recreated her 1964 piece “Il Gioco del Nonsense”. Though Paparatti is practically unknown to the art scene, she was a central figure in Rome’s Pop Art movement during the 60s, and the 85-piece collection reflected that technicolour influence. Drop waist, 60s style block colour shifts opened the show, followed by skimpy Peter Pan collared suits, and a slew of babydoll dresses which had been finished with thick tangerine and verdant stripes. Looks which, in short, wouldn’t seem out of place in the archives of André Courrèges, Mary Quant, or Yves Saint Laurent. Then came a bevy of Muay Thai-inspired boxing looks with “Dior Vibe” branded across their waistband. A surprising transition, perhaps, but it didn’t have to make sense. After all, this was “Il Gioco del Nonsense” (the game of nonsense). After a brief interlude Chiuri closed with some Space Age, hard plastic bikinis, colourful, screen printed mini skirts – which somehow felt Warholian – and a smattering of sequined and long-beaded shifts.
Catsuits, enormous shoulders, and needle-point stilettos. Saint Laurent returned to the Eiffel Tower where models sloshed through artificial rain and strobe lighting wearing a block-hued collection inspired by the scandalous Paloma Piccasso – an old friend of and muse to Yves Saint Laurent. The result was brash and quite sexy, but in a power-suited, 80s kind of way, as opposed to the all the naive sensuality of the 00s which is dominating elsewhere. Clutch purses were shoved down waistbands like handguns, while triangular cocktail dresses and blazer jackets were decorated with gilded, coin-like buttons, cut at the forearm to suggest the Saint Laurent woman means business. Otherwise, most of the looks this season had been fashioned from spandex. Red, purple, and blue all-in-ones which were stretched, ruched, and bowed across the body, decorated with opulent gold cuffs and brassy costume jewellery. Vaccarello is unapologetic in his vision of rake-thin, high-stakes glamour, but it’s worth considering if that image is emboldening for all women.
Thebe Magugu brought his family to the proverbial Red Table this season, holding an installation of his collection at the Palais de Tokyo, while a roundtable discussion looped on TV screens in the background. As his mother and aunt sorted through a box of old photographs, the trio discussed the provenance of their outfits, which Magugu had translated into this season’s collection. A picture of his mother dressed in a colour-blocked 80s skirt-suit became a high-waisted, sculptural blazer, while his aunt’s penchant for mini dresses inspired a pair of buttock-grazing short-suits, and his grandmother’s nursing uniform was transformed into a hospital-blue, official-looking shirt-dress. Though the influence of these souvenirs were more literal at times – a panelled kaftan had been printed with black and white photos – they were distinctly Magugu. For SS22, the designer’s signature military panels, bisected sleeves, knife-pleated skirts, and sculptural geles became tools to excavate and exalt the memories of his family.
Last season, Jonny Johansson’s models looked as though they had spent the past six months languishing in bed, swaddled in pastoral-printed duvet dresses and fuzzy pyjama sets. Six months later, and that’s seemingly where the Acne girl was headed again. Albeit for different reasons. Corsets, leather, lingerie-indebted knitwear, and low-swinging BDSM chains punctuated a collection that quivered between soft and hard. Trailing chiffon blouses were styled with equine-buckled leather skirts, while jersey skin-tight skirts and trousers looked like sexed-up pieces of old-fashioned suspenders, held together with girdle lacing and hook-and-eye fastenings. With three teen children, Johansson has, by his own admission, been plunging through TikTok, conceiving matching sets of distressed knitwear for SS22, which wouldn’t go a miss on the For You Page. Likewise, the shoe of the show, an impossibly-bulky, clog-like sandal, could only have been proffered for the internet’s ever-flittering attention span.
SS22 saw Di Petsa take over the Palais de Tokyo – Paris’ umbrella venue for emerging talent – with an otherworldly, oil slick lagoon, where sirens lounged and lured guests to their watery boudoir. Though the designer’s signature wet-look technique still featured across toga-like two pieces, and gluey, goddess dresses – which had been dotted with tiny diamantés like droplets catching the light – Di Petsa sought to expand her universe. This season, buxom dresses were created from folds of royal blue, draped silk and netted columns, with cut-outs at the hip and twisted straps, while corsets had been spliced at the breast so that flesh spilled out of its portholes. Otherwise, slinky, side-tying sequin dresses and wipe-clean trench coats also made their debut. Humans are made up of 60 per cent water, but Di Petsa is yearning for more.
Rick Owens returned to the Palais de Tokyo in a plume of smoke, and jasmine petals, swapping out the splinter-like Venetian lido of his lockdown era, for the ecclesiastical steps of the Parisian landmark. As Michele Lamy, Owens’ lifelong partner and collaborator, opened in a prism-structured leather skirt and a wisp of a tulle cape, beleaguered punters from the museum’s cafes looked on, slack-jawed, as two archangels clambered to the roof, scattering the runway with dried flower petals. Though there were earthy yellows, tangerine, and rose, SS22 consisted predominantly of floor-skimming, black robes. Silhouettes were blown up at the shoulders and whipped around the body in sphincter-like skirts or languid trains. And yet, it felt less menacing than recent collections, sexy almost. There were sheer, clingy dresses, swim-indebted minis, and angular, leather bralettes, which bared the sternum. Even Owens’ signature distended knitwear came punctured with ribbed gloryholes, while the invisible heels of his platforms became redolent of stripper pleasers.
Naming their collection Spring Summer 2033, Arnaud Vaillant and Sébastien Meyer set this season’s Coperni offering 12 years from now. Not because they were prophesying on the future, however, but because they simply want to escape the present. Models traipsed through head-high reeds of hemp and a sandy runway, proffering a collection which simultaneously called for the beach and Beverly Hills – which translates to aquamarine bikinis, hawaiian sarongs, and sheer bell bottoms, worn with subversive, sliced dinner jackets and criss-crossed spandex bralettes. Patchwork prints of Felix the Cat, the yin and yang sign, alien faces, and Beavis and Butt-Head came together on camp-collared shirts and gauzy columns, which were reminiscent of 90s rave flyers and The Summer of Love – bending and blending period references like their old mentor, Nicolas Ghesquière, would have taught them. As the duo stuck their head above the parapet, looking back to future, it’s perhaps fitting that Eve Jobs, Steve Jobs’ daughter made her runway debut – even if she didn’t sport the label’s new bag, which had been inspired by the iPhone photos app.
Like a huge number of his fellow PFW designers, Central Saint Martins grad Rok Hwang amped up the glam for SS22, sending a collection of slinky cocktail dresses, floor-sweeping gowns, and all manner of cut-out bodices down the runway this season. Looking back to the 00s and the London clubs he used to frequent when he was still in uni – and dressing up for a night out was still de rigueur – the designer offered up skin-tight midis, the straps of which appeared to be coquettishly slipping off the shoulder, vinyl circle skirts that cinched the waist, and ab-flashing cardigans paired with slim pencil skirts and bold-hued opera gloves. In short, it was youthful evening wear with a twist, and tbh, pretty great to boot.
Raf Simons expanded onto his long-awaited foray into womenswear by joining the PFW line-up this season, sending a collection of surefire hits around a runway overlooked by people making their way through the Paris streets (oh to be going about your everyday tasks and suddenly find yourself seeing one of the Belgian iconoclast’s offerings getting its debut, am I right?) With vintage tour tee graphics transformed into tailored jacket and short sets among the first looks, what came next were brilliantly pumped-up, XXL shirts bearing the designer’s new logo, oversized sweaters in greys, blacks, and an excellent pea-soupy green, skorts for both boys and girls, and more of those incredible skeleton hands clasped around sleeves – this time in shades of lavender and Pepto Bismol pink, or otherwise encrusted with Swarovski crystals.
Loewe’s collections are always pretty on point, but let’s just say it like it is: Jonathan Anderson knocked it well and truly out of the park with this one. Inspired by “neurotic, psychedelic, and completely hysterical” Renaissance painter Pontormo, the Northern Irish wunderkind sent a joyful and at times absurd collection down the runway for SS22, with painterly, almost marbled gowns contorted by structures they were woven across, moulded gold and silver breastplates inserted into coats and shirts, and swinging, bias-cut dresses glittering with lipstick red and pink sequins key. Best in show, however, goes to the accessories, and more particularly, the shoes, with barely-there sandals finished with cracked eggs, nail polish pots, roses, and bars of soap in place of heels. Whatever happened to fun? It’s right here, on Loewe’s runway – duh.
ANDREAS KRONTHALER FOR VIVIENNE WESTWOOD
Andreas Kronthaler got into BBL fashion this season at Vivienne Westwood, turning out a slew of repurposed, assless, dresses which had been cut short at the back or slashed just below the buttock. Call it High Fashion Nova. “The new sexy is the arse. It’s all about the arse. It’s the thing we have together, woman and man. The Greeks used to worship it in a very big way,” Kronthaler said of the collection. Though he may have been lured in by the siren call of Insta baddies everywhere, SS22 was in no way salacious. It was bawdy, slovenly draped, and teased at provocation with boucle budgie smugglers, exposed corset padding, and clownish, supersized iterations of those chap-boots which pop stars wore in 2016. From spliced and diced t-shirt dresses to tulle gowns which had been whipped up and around polo shirts, garments came together in a ceremonial clashing of codes, much of which had been salvaged from Kronthaler’s personal wardrobe – including a blanket he kept as a baby, and a stuffed toy Socrates.
Naomi Campbell has walked upwards of four runways this season yet the tension which pricks through the audience as she takes to her signature strut is as palpable as ever. Draped in a floor-skimming, scalloped cape, the supermodel closed Lanvin’s latest show; a jewel-toned, shimmery collection made up of crunchy, glittered knits, flouncy cocktail dresses, and metallic minis. Though Bruno Sialelli attested that the sparkle of SS22 came indebted to the label’s Art Deco archives – even emblazoned with vintage Batman motifs – the spirit of Alber Elbaz’s 2010s tenure was just as notable. This season’s offering spoke to the late designer’s curation of unapologetic glam in lilac negligees, flower bracelets, and glitzy frocks, which had been draped around the body like Christmas wrapping. It’s what women go to Lanvin for – Sialelli said – a bouquet of flowering, exuberant, ultra-femme dresses that first bloomed under Elbaz.
Sunday night in Paris and Matthew Williams enticed the fashion set out to the suburbs of Paris with the promise of a mammoth debut show after three seasons of showing in the digital realm. Taking place in the city’s La Défense Arena, guests were handed Givenchy-branded bottles of black lemonade, before they congregated around a huge white oval at the centre of the space. Soundtracked by a set of never-before-heard Young Thug songs, the collection itself offered up more of what Williams has long made his signature. Utilitarian tailoring was key, with slick coats, blazers, and pocket-heavy gilets finished with chunky buckles and clasps. Structured origami-like bodices heralded the return of the peplum, while sportswear was softened through the use of delicate fabrics, as boxy bombers were crafted from lightweight, painterly taffeta. A collaboration with artist Josh Smith also saw pieces blasted with childlike, horror-inflected daubings – a petrol can-like bag marked with a cartoony clown face, a roughed-up basketball transformed into a leering Jack O’Lantern tote, a flash of the Grim Reaper across shirting. Also on show was a healthy selection of Williams’ wild footwear, in the form of thigh-high vinyl boots with clompy sci-fi soles, blocky clogs, and avant-garde sneakers. Keep your eyes on the TL to see which of his famous mates will be slipping into what in the coming days.
Flanked by editors sat dining at the terraces of Le Carreau du Temple in Paris’ 3 arrondissement, a bevy of unconventional-looking, street-cast models paraded through a 19th century marketplace which Valentino had transformed into a goliath 96-look runway. Debuting what Pierpaolo Piccioli has dubbed the Valentino Archive Project, SS22 felt like the designer had spent the past 6 months heaving the house closer into the eyeline of Gen Z – transforming its couture handwriting into easy-to-wear TikTok-friendly takedowns. Technicolour, beautiful silhouettes, and luxurious fabrications still prevailed, however. So while there were skorts, sliders, and grungy mohair sweaters, they had been forged from fluid, knife-cut wool, platformed and studded, or came with billowing blouson sleeves, respectively. It was all about recontextualising house codes for a new generation. Looking back in order to look forward. Accordingly, the collection was punctuated with decadent gowns from the house’s vaults and Valentino Garavani re-ups – including the opening look, a white floral-dotted knee-length dress which Zendaya debuted on Instagram the day prior. Even for Valentino, this was a sociable, exuberant, and expansive offering.
Chanel took it back to approximately 1992 for SS22, with Virginie Viard sending out a sweep of sugary sweet – and quite silly – fashions indebted to the era. Perhaps inspired by Olivia Rodrigo’s archival jaunt earlier in the year, Viard’s proposition was flirty and frivolous, flitting between novelty-branded, monochromatic beachwear, pastel tweed mini-suits, and chunky, ribbed two pieces. As models twirled down the catwalk, winking and tousling their hair, a Christine & The Queens cover of George Michael’s “Freedom” boomed overhead. Cue some logo-heavy tailoring and a smattering of flouncy, butterfly-printed chiffon dresses, and it looked as though Chanel had replicated an Instagram moodboard account on its very runway. With nostalgia’s stock on the rise, there’s little wonder as to why, and Viard leant into its demands, puncturing tweed column skirts with hip cut-outs, while rejuvenating Lagerfeld’s hefty belly chains, and 80s businesswoman blazer-dresses. Where these once came strapped across Linda Evangelista, however, Viard has pushed for modernity, tapping indigenous model Quannah Chasinghorse for her Paris Fashion Week debut.
True to the tenets of luxury – heritage, craft, and astronomic pricing – Hermès treads the periphery of fashion’s hive mind. And though it’s attune to the zeitgeist, it rarely finds itself swayed by the kinds of trends which coagulate over fashion season, meaning SS22 offered a respite from Y2K-inflicted flounce, arse-baring jeans, and saucy, swimwear-indebted separates. To this end, Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski staged her show at Le Bourget airport in Paris – more specifically, its hangar for private jets – which was covered in tangerine-hued paintings by Flora Moscovici. The collection spoke to our collective reemergence post-pandemic. Reflecting back that pursuit of freedom, clothing was kept light and simple, including plissé pants, minimal leather shifts, generously-cut, drawstring jumpsuits, and buttery, athletic bra tops. Though it was miserably rainy outside, a terracotta, sunrise-hued palette suggested otherwise – as shutters were drawn and light flooded the installation, a plane was chartered to land in time with the last look. How Hermès.
Walking into Daniel Roseberry’s Place Vendôme salon must be a little like walking into a crime scene. Dismembered body parts, including eyes, ears, lips, and pierced nipples are transformed into surreal bijoux, tacked onto trench coats, or otherwise embellished onto leather bags. Meanwhile, lone, golden breasts come suspended on a chain à la Bella Hadid and her Cannes necklace, with bucket bags fashioned from hulk-like torsos. It’s all about balancing the vulgar and the artful, like Jean Paul Gaultier, or Dalí, who are both name-checked within the label’s collection by way of Madonna-esque cone bras and creepy skeleton dresses. If the designer’s couture offerings have established Roseberry’s tenure at Schiaparelli as sexy and surrealist then SS22 speaks in the most seductive of riddles. Fake “Hotel Schiap” spa robes have been festooned in eyeballs, while leather swimwear has been twisted at the nipples like swirling flower heads. Elsewhere, there’s an inflatable oil-black bolero, as well as air-valved puffer jackets and parkas, which are sure to slip their long-taloned fingers into Cardi B’s ever-expanding Parisian wardrobe.
COMME DES GARÇONS
As a lime green wash flooded the Comme des Garçons runway, models squeezed their way through plywood doorways in amorphous, blown-up structures and many-tendrilled, stuffed, tentacle-dresses. In an email Rei Kawakubo sent out before the SS22 show, the designer spoke about going against the “intention to make clothes”, freeing herself from the constraints of colour, fabric, and silhouette. Only, Kawakubo has never exactly adhered to those conventions. She also said how she was done with “patterns that clearly define the body”, which is at odds with the rest of the industry this season. Rather randomness and absurdity took up (literal) space on Kawakubo’s runway, with bouncing sculptures blasted with hand-drawn flowers, leaves, and bows. Topped with cartoonish, plastic wigs by Gary Card, models trundled out in highlighter-hued, haphazard lumps, knotted tulle, and limbless spheres, climaxing with a boudoir-esque, armchair-shaped gown.
This season, Maison Margiela’s signature two-toed Tabi boots looked like an accessory you might find boxed up with Fashion Barbie™. Slip on booties came crafted from pliable, molded rubber, in block primary colours, while John Galliano transformed human legs into plastic, slipping his models into latex leggings. Whether Mattel was an actual reference for Galliano, however, is highly unlikely. The designer’s SS22 collection was told through a sea-faring voyage, a film featuring coastal fisherman and teenage mudlarks, meaning those doll-worthy boots were, in fact, derived from high-water waders. Dressed in oil slickers with feathered fishing flies and herringbone nets, Dutch boy trousers, rain hats, and transparent, scale-like slips, the designer called his protagonists “a utopian youth”, as a backdrop flickered with images of a dystopian, natural disaster. A raft of distressed, upcycled, and semi-destroyed pieces felt true to the history of Margiela, too. Shrunken and holey knitted jumpers, spliced tailored jackets, and frayed, denim mini shorts looked as though they had been bashed about and weathered, caught in a riptide, or perhaps even a hook.
This year, Louis Vuitton turned 200 years old, which, for a designer as preoccupied with the notion of time as Nicolas Ghesquière, had to be addressed. Beneath a sweep of chandeliers in The Louvre’s Passage Richelieu, the designer staged a “grand bal of time”, collaging disparate references from as far back as the 18th century. The time-travelling ceremony opened with a bevy of bouncy pannier dresses, with exaggerated Marie Antoinette-style hips, worn back with open-toe wrestling boots. Denim jackets had been cut as if they were tailcoats, then styled over skater shorts, while high-shine puffer jackets came with frou frou ruffs. Ghesquière may have also taken inspiration from HBO’s Irma Vemp this season, for which he has been creating costumes. The upcoming series is based on the 1920s short film Les Vampires, and the designer navigated his SS22 collection accordingly – a Dracula, ageless and traversing history, absorbing all the frills of the past (and that includes Dame Edna’s spangled glasses).
At the close of Paris Fashion Week and SS22, 45 of the world’s most famous designers gathered to celebrate the life of Alber Elbaz, who sadly passed away from COVID earlier this year. Famed for rejuvenating Lanvin with an ultra-femme, high glam point of view, Elbaz was attune to the many nuances and contradictions of modern womanhood, dressing his customers as if they were prized bijoux. Each designer paid tribute to Elbaz, sending out a one-off look which referenced his designs, personal style, and eccentricities. Donatella Versace presented a glittery, hot pink cocktail dress with exaggerated sleeves to mimic Elbaz’s beloved bow ties, while Demna Gvasalia wrapped his model in a fuchsia cape which he had bowed at the nape, followed by a plastic-wrapped gown festooned in Minnie Mouse motifs courtesy of Rei Kawakubo. Other participants included Raf Simons, Jean Paul Gaultier, Rick Owens, Virgil Abloh, Alessandro Michele, Kim Jones, and Riccardo Tisci, to name but a few. The show then closed with the SS22 collection of AZ factory, Elbaz’s own label, which will continue to design in his legacy – championing generosity, sensitivity, and above all, kindness.