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OTW by Vans Paris Fashion Week party
Photography Nolan Vangas

What happened when King Krule and Vans took over Paris Fashion Week

To launch its new brand, Vans invited Instagram It girls to a Goliath skate park on the Seine

The historic Pont Alexandre III in Paris has entertained some significant fashion moments in recent years. Valentino staged its SS23 couture collection beneath its arches, Carrie Bradshaw lobbed Mr Big’s ashes from its railings and Vans built a behemoth skatepark along its banks during the SS24 edition of Paris Fashion Week. Backdropped by the Eiffel Tower and hundreds of Parisian teenagers peering over the bridge, the Goliath chequerboard structure had been erected in celebration of OTW by Vans: a new and elevated sub-label that brings premium design and collaborators together in unison. The skatepark also played host to one of the biggest and most raucous parties of the season, with skaters flitting through the air and Instagram It girls clambering to get to the front of VIP performances.

If you weren’t on the list, here’s everything you need to know from Vans’ monumental fashion week bash.  

THE INVITE WAS A MAQUETTE OF THE SKATE PARK 

Designed in collaboration with Unitedfront, PLAYLAB INC, and California Skateparks, a miniature plexiglass iteration of the skatepark was couriered to guests’ hotel rooms 24 hours before kick-off. Complete with a thumb-sized skateboard, it helped to bide the time. Meanwhile, the real thing hosted skate sessions and low-key parties (with DJ sets from Rory Milanes and Donavan’s Sound Club) throughout its three-day lifespan for members of Paris’ skate communities. And parts of the installation – acrylic ramps, spines, and hubbas – were subsequently donated to the Cosanostra Skatepark once it had been dismantled, which is nicer than dumping it into the Seine like Ms Bradshaw did to her husband. 

HALF OF INSTAGRAM WAS IN ATTENDANCE

The skateable sculpture was surrounded by 14 CCTV cameras that livestreamed the footage on massive LED screens – which beamed the faces of Lourdes Leon, Amelia Gray, Fai Khadra, Bakar, Evan Mock, Sabrina Fuentes, Jordan Vickors, and Sonny Hall onto the sides of the ramps. It was a broad-ranging guest list with even Haider Ackermann thrown somewhere in the mix. Couture designers and Kardashian-Jenner-adjacents, fashion loves a high-low moment! And then there was the official Vans skateboarding team – including Beatrice Domond, Etienne Gagne, Rowan Zorilla, Lizzie Armanto, Mami Tezuka, Zion Wright, Diego Todd, and Axel Cruysberghs – who were catapulting themselves down wallrides. 

IT WAS ABOUT SKATERS BEING ELEGANT

The whole thing was a megawatt introduction to OTW by Vans, which is billed as “a designated space for product exploration with collaborators to push the edges of design expression.” A more directional (and expensive) addition to the Vans family, its inaugural collaboration will come via Sterling Ruby at some point in early 2024. “It is a personal collaboration,” he said. “Vans feels right to us, it defines a certain West Coast history. The company started in 1966 and has run in tandem with so many skaters, bands, and movements that have been influential to me, my art, and how my studio runs as a whole.“ 

KING KRULE PERFORMED 

As the sun began to sink into the Seine and the clangorous sounds of the Onyx Collective drew to a close, King Krule ascended the skate plinth in a pair of classic high-tops. The musician rattled through some of his most well-known hits, “Stoned Again” and “Seaforth” alongside tracks from his new album, including “Pink Shell”, while the fashion crowd (very gently and very politely) moshed. Members of the public were allowed to watch – so long as they stood on the bridge – and so hundreds of them peeped over the edge to get a glimpse at “Archy and the bois”, as they are known on Reddit.