Nike has never been one to play by the rules, and its old adage ‘Just Do It’ came into full effect when – to cap off a week of couture in Paris – the label gathered Parisian locals, international editors, and a score of brand ambassadors on Wednesday for an off-schedule evening celebrating the limitless potential of women, in sport and beyond.
Held in the city’s Accor Arena, (usually the home of the city’s major sporting events, like the upcoming 2024 Olympics), the show melded ideas of performance with fashion presentation. Choreographed by Parris Goebel – yes, the brains behind Rihanna’s stellar Superbowl performance – over 30 insanely talented dancers took us on a 40-minute journey entitled “Goddess Awakened”, as they demonstrated the perseverance, power, and beauty of womanhood. Breakdancing, interpretative dance, voguing, running, and more, movement was celebrated no matter what your preference, all scored to a high-frequency soundtrack that featured everyone from A$AP Ferg to Lola Brooke and old-school Aaliyah.
When it came to the clothes, more traditional Nike sportswear was paired with incredible design-led pieces, including the newly-released Martine Rose collaboration, including a gender-neutral kit made with football in mind, and the yet to be released second wave ombre Shox Mule MR4s, which dominated the line-up alongside classic Air Force Ones as the dancers pounded the floor.
Feng Chen Wang, typically a menswear designer, contributed eye-catching sports bras and leggings in grey and green hues, alongside a jacket comprised of scarves that tumbled from an elevated platform down to fellow dancers, as part of a powerful segment signifying female unity and support.
Later, fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad dramatically sparred with a partner, while Netherlands’ India Sardjoe, the first break dancer to qualify for the upcoming ‘24 games, brought the house down with a spirited performance. Paraolympian Scout Bassett shared her powerful story of being orphaned as a child in her native China to competing for Team USA, before taking to the stage in a sprint, and in a powerful video montage, Sha’Carri Richardson spoke to camera about the mind over matter when it comes to sport and life – a message for us all.
Nike friends and family were obviously in full attendance: alongside the aforementioned Rose, Ahn, and Wang, guests including model Adwoa Aboah, Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, Kyle Luu (who styled the event) and Nike collaborators Simon Porte Jacquemus, Matthew Williams and athletes Chloe Kim and Oksana Masters were all in the audience. And though she wasn’t there in person, for those listening closely, there was even a voice over cameo from Billie Eilish.
The event also provided moments of reflection. Topics of domestic violence, gender fluidity and female friendship felt like breaking new and important ground for Nike in a showing that felt like a true celebration of the enduring female spirit.