Young designers make a statement at Paris Fashion Week
Tuesday was a hectic day at Paris Fashion Week. Along with much anticipated-shows from the likes of Christian Dior and a range of young brands that have gained visibility over the last few seasons, such as Marine Serre and Koché, a plethora of new up-and-comers also enchanted audiences with their high-quality collections, with particularly strong shows being presented by Anrealage, Afterhomework, Victoria/Tomas, Dawei and Mazarine.
Anrealage may not be the youngest label on the block, having celebrated its 15th anniversary last year, but the brand has undergone a complete rehaul since last season, radically switching gears. After five years focusing on light effects through technological innovation, the label's founder, Japanese designer Kunihiko Morinaga, continued along the path first hinted at in February, going back to wardrobe basics in order to explore all of their possibilities.
On Tuesday, he sent models down the runway in threes. Each trio's looks were composed of a classic, pseudo-"normal" silhouette, accompanied by two contrasting versions of the same piece with new, totally exaggerated proportions – one shrunken, the other oversized. A wide range of classics received this treatment: chinos, sky-blue shirts, navy blazers, t-shirt-and-jean combos, black skirts paired with diamond-patterned tank tops, pastel-coloured cotton shirt-dresses, trenches and polo-dresses.
The designer – a finalist of this year's LVMH Prize – had fun distorting clothes to the extreme, joyfully flitting from a pair of super skinny trousers to its baggy, extra large counterpart, all while cutting them with a new kind of volume, as though each leg had been slipped into an upside-down funnel that splayed out at the bottom. This unbalanced, spherical shape was also used in dresses and skirts.
One downsized navy-blue jacket transformed into a bolero, while some models' heads were lost in extra large collars with giant lapels. As well as experimenting with size, Morinaga also worked with asymmetrical and mismatched silhouettes, which appeared to have been knocked off their axis.
Early in the day, Afterhomework also revealed the latest phase in its rapidly evolving style. Born as a post-homework pastime, the young brand upped its game this season with greater attention to detail and construction, while also managing to maintain its youthful freshness. The label moved away from the flowing forms of gender-neutral fashion in order to sculpt a more defined silhouette, a decision which resulted in a significantly more feminine wardrobe.
The models left their sneakers at home, preferring open-toed stilettos paired with knee-high stockings that were held in place by elasticated toggles. They sported spaghetti-strap dresses, both long and short, constructed with overlapping layers of fabric, including, in one case, cotton handkerchiefs. Bib-like tops left the ladies' backs bare, while the boys opted for a more nonchalant style, donning t-shirts, studded jeans or dishcloth bermudas.
The volume of the clothes was fluid and adjustable thanks to asymmetrical cuts and strings, which hung loose at models' sides or pulled pants and dresses tight through the designers' playful use of drawstrings.
"We sourced old dishcloths and handkerchiefs from the Montreuil flea market. In fact, this collection reflects our day-to-day life in Paris, from the beaux quartiers to the banlieue," explained designer Pierre Kaczmarek, who, along with his partner Elena Mottola, wanted to tell the story of a stroll through Paris this season.
Victoria/Tomas also celebrated the City of Light on Tuesday. This time round however, the French capital, an eternal source of inspiration for the brand, was approached from a different point of view: that of a wide-eyed tourist crossing paths with a stereotypical Parisienne. As usual, design duo Victoria Feldman and Tomas Berzins went all out with contrast, mixing the romantic silhouettes of long pink dresses or retro skirts with laid-back looks combining jeans and hoodies with waterproofs, or shirts with shorts.
The devil was truly in the details, which gave an original twist to the pieces on display. Little gingham dresses were cinched at the waist by thick rope-like drawstrings, while the collars of certain shirts were extended with an unexpected curve and shorts were topped with flapping over-skirts.
Large poplin shirts were elongated into tunics or asymmetrical dresses. Elsewhere, pieces were given a touch of sparkle with metal embellishments, such as snap fasteners, which were sewn down the legs of pants, and rivets, which appeared along the hem of a dress or the strap of a bag.
Indeed, the brand took advantage of its latest runway show to launch its first line of bags. Taking inspiration from totes, the label reinterpreted the canvas classic in a rigid leather version, and also proposed a series of practical pouches, attached directly onto certain dresses.
For its second Parisian show, Dawei pushed forward with its launch, presenting a smart collection dominated by knitwear. Pieces ranged from long-sleeved jumpers decorated with abstract designs and extended with trains, to ribbed sweater-and-skirt ensembles that could be unbuttoned sensually at the shoulder. Other highlights included beige maxi-trenches with blue stripes, bubble dresses in creased nylon and skirts in striped transparent technical fabrics, as well as a series of virginal white outfits.
Mazarine also caused a stir with its off-calendar show at the Palais de Tokyo. Founded by Hélène Timsit and Quentin Poisson in 2015, the brand continued to successfully develop its DNA this season. Having recently settled into the Plan 8 showroom in order to accelerate its commercial growth, the label presented a pared-down and vaguely futuristic collection on Tuesday, skilfully playing with rounded silhouettes.
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