Paris Fashion Week: Day 1 Review

The first day of Paris Fashion Week is all about art and movement.

BY Janie Cai | Jun 23, 2016 | Fashion

1 | Walter Van Beirendonck SS17

Designer: Walter Van Beirendonck

"Why is a raven like a writing-desk.” On brutal beauty, future folk and reflection through destruction. 

One of the famous Antwerp Six, Van Beirendonck uses the visual narrative of clothing to convey his emotional expression towards the world around him. This season was all about fragile, brutal beauty. One that fluidly weaved through the lines demarcating what each gender would be expected to wear. Van Beirendonck’s coats and suits celebrated the imperfections, his pieces answered the question of how to regard what would be deemed ugly or imperfect and to create then beauty around that. Holes in jackets were bedecked in grosgrain, making wondering faces out of colored ribbon that had been pleated around like a winner posy. Strait jacket-style buckles found expression in the triple buckle fastening of sharply cut suit jackets and there was a beautiful fragility in his see-through gossamer mesh shirts imprinted with the show’s overriding question about a bird and a desk. A raffia furred suit and trousers reminded us of the designer’s playful side, this aspect was further enforced in the eyelashes encrusted sunglasses some models wore, a collaboration between Fakoshima. Collaboration was key throughout the collection, with the wearable art carried out on the torsos of some models designed by Van Beirendonck and realized by Jacqueline Lecarme of Brussels and the bead-knitwear by Cecile Feilchenfeldt in Paris, whilst the Staphorster stipwerk fabrics were painted by hand by Gerard van Oosten of Staphorst. And though we still couldn’t figure out why a raven was like a writing-desk (maybe they are both covered in ink?), nonetheless, Walter Van Beirendonck’s SS17 collection brought home the fact that overcoming adversity to create true beauty takes more than just the individual. 

Key piece? The tweed suit with the hanging straps. Or the jumpsuit in navy with the leather toolbox purse. Yes, a man-purse, but a beautiful one. Get with the times.

2 | Valentino Men's SS17

Designers: Maria Grazia Chuiri and Pierpaolo Piccioli

Art is at the root of the Valentino collection for SS17. Maria Grazia Chuiri and Pierpaolo Piccioli were inspired by the collection at The Met Breuer in New York, titled  “Unfinished, thoughts left visible”—a series of artwork that explored the theme of the unfinished through 500 years of art history and left its touch on the softly unfinished hems and raw edges of the collection the two presented yesterday evening in Paris. However, it was the abstract hand-painted black jaguars, a key motif this season at Valentino, that brought to mind another art exhibition. The show’s timing coincided with the Henri Rousseau exhibition on at the Musee Orsay and it’s hard to miss the symbolism of the primitive animalistic prints used, or that the fact that the jaguar came from the Valentino archives, a print done by Valentino Garavani back in 1967, it’s style reminiscent of the raw beauty of Rousseau’s Jungle series, and that of the raw, powerful form of the painted predator slinking through the foliage. At Valentino however, the slinking was done across coats in a manner of handworked, tone on tone patchwork, of which the end result read almost like a camouflage print.

The designer duo didn't stray far from their hallmark themes that embedded camouflage, denim and military-style references at the heart of the collection but these core facets of menswear, ones that they have revisited almost every collection, are translated with effortless and distinct finesse. Cue infinitely wearable coats like the bomber, long trench and the short military coat, cropped and appearing in heavy cotton with glass-beaded insignia patches, indigo and an XL camouflage print done in 3-colours. Full on denim ensembles (we're talking top to toe here), strode up the runway, replete with subtle studding and hems left unfinished, imbuing the look with a touch of 'what's come undone.’

Our pick? It’s hard to choose just one but if pushed then the embroidered jaguar coat in olive khaki. 

3 | Carven SS17

Designer: Barnabé Hardy

Not everything is black and white, sometimes it's what happens between the lines which matters. Barnabé Hardy, the young designer behind Carven’s men’s collection, seems to have posed himself that question for SS17. From a surreal and beautifully executed presentation, in which lithe models deftly performed a powerful choreography, dancing both with and through a series of taut navy and white strips suspended from floor to ceiling, the collection provided an anchor that juxtaposed form with function through movement. From seersucker in gravelly shades in the form of a teddy jacket layer over tees to colourful, paneled knits with painstaking textured details, striped jackets and sparkly lurex socks paired with fringed sneakers.

The Carven models sported a serious mien but clothes imbued a youthful air. From light layers of jackets over tees and knits to knitwear that fit the body just so, and shorts paired with sneakers and socks. A printed pattern also made an appearance on lightweight raincoats and windbreakers, forming a fresh look that went together well with the synergy of the performance. 

Our personal favourite piece was a soft, seersucker sports jacket. Ideal for weekend travels that required you pack light. Or dance.